Designing Better Websites

Since many business owners come to the web with a defined sense of who they are and what their product is, creating content can be easy. But creating a web site that visually compliments that content can be a bit vexing. This isn’t to say that you can’t have a great looking web site . . . YOU CAN! However, you should keep a few things in mind whether you decide to design your own web site or you hire a designer to do the job. With that said, here is a short list.

10 Essential Design Tips!

  1. The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts. Consider the ideas or values you want to convey through your web site or blog. Make a list! For example, is it important for clients see you as professional and serious, or can you afford a little sense of humor? Do users see your product/services as dynamic, fresh, and youthful? When you determine these values think about how to represent visually, to provide a cohesive statement about your product or services.
  2. Less Is More. Edit! Edit! Edit! Having a good editor makes for great design. Don’t make the mistake of trying to jam everything . . . I mean EVERYTHING! onto your web site. Be succinct and get to the point. Allow space for good design to happen.
  3. Let Your Width Out. Still stuck at 750px? Most users screen size and resolutions can accommodate larger sites. Try expanding the width of your site up to 900-1,000px.
  4. Control Your Color Palette. Controlling your color palette is critical in composing a site that looks uniformed and well thought out. Most of the sites I design start with two primary colors and one accent color. I may add a few shades (primary color plus, black or white) for variety, but don’t overdo it. Use your accent color to add a little pop!
  5. White Space and Lots of It! White space is important. Having a web site with lots of white space keeps the user from being overwhelmed and makes your site more user friendly. Increase you body font size and your line height (space between lines) for greater readability. Also, provide plenty of space between design elements. Reading from a monitor can be tiring but adding white space will make your design easy on the eyes.
  6. Group Things. Strong design is a process of organization. The key to organizing is the careful grouping of elements. Look at your overall design and make sure similar items, ideas, and themes relate to one another. Use design elements and spacing to correlate relationships.
  7. Create a Clear Center of Interest. Create a visual hierarchy that adds interest and pulls the user to certain areas of your page. Avoid designs that have an all over feel. Decide what’s most important and make it larger, bolder, and more prominent. Use other visual cues to direct the user to secondary elements.
  8. Use Strong Images Nothing kills a good design faster than bad photography and visuals. Make room in your budget to hire a professional photographer or illustrator. Don’t rely on your brother-in-law Sal just because he will do it for FREE!
  9. Don’t Forget the Details. Adding small design elements to your pull quotes, list items, category listings, and so on will add the final bit of polish to your site. Don’t overdo it, but a few well placed graphical elements can go a long way to giving your site a professional, well thought out appearance.
  10. Finally . . . Avoid Things that Flash, Scroll, or Blink. It wasn’t long ago that almost every web page on the planet had some kind of flashing, blinking, or scrolling going on. These effects (including copious amounts of Flash animation) maybe effective at first. But users soon tire of the Flash animation that plays every time they reload a page and an element that once created interest, NOW becomes plainly annoying!

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