5 tips to keep in mind when designing your website

Whether you are trying to launch a website for a new brand or working on a redesign of a current website, there are a lot of factors to keep in mind when (re)designing your company’s website.

Some small business owners are very involved in the process, taking on a do-it-yourself platform to design and launch the website themselves. While others seek out help from web design and development agencies to help manage and bring their brands to life. No matter which path you choose, making sure you keep a few key strategies in mind will be vital to help set expectations as you begin this process but can also impact success of the end product.

Optimal website design and why it matters

Your website is essentially the digital home of your brand. It is the main tool used to communicate who you are, what you do, what you offer and what products you sell to your target customers. Implementing key strategies can save you time (and resources) in the long run. We have worked with numerous clients who are looking to redesign a website that was not done properly the first time. Some have tried the do-it-yourself platforms that promise ease of use and functionality but in the end become a burden to maintain, while others have worked with agencies who promise the world for next to nothing but can’t deliver.

Proper website design and development can positively impact technical website performance and usability, improve brand visibility and awareness and increase ROI. No matter if you are creating your website yourself or partnering with an agency to do so, there are some fundamental website design strategies that should be kept in mind throughout the process.

Top tips for optimal website design

1. Mobile-friendly design

We talked a bit about responsive design and why you should ensure you have a responsive website in a previous blog post. But just in case you didn’t catch that post here is a quick definition:

Responsive design refers to web pages that render well on a variety of screen sizes, windows and/or devices.

Gone are the days of having a separate mobile site from your traditional desktop website. Users expect to be able to access your website from any device, no matter what size their screen is, and they are also expecting that it will be a seamless experience.

If we look at just US mobile usage data, an average US adult will spend just under 3 hours and 45 minutes on their device, according to eMarketer. To put this into perspective, the average US adult will spend 3 hours and 35 minutes watching TV. So mobile use will surpass that of TV this year.

I could throw numbers and charts at you all day long supporting mobile usage trends, but the main goal of this recommended strategy is to make sure small business owners understand the need to have a mobile-friendly website. So when you are either working in the do-it-yourself platforms or working with an agency, make sure you consider the following mobile-friendly considerations:

  • Page speed (how fast does it load?)
  • Image rendering (do images appear normal or do they pixelated?)
  • Scroll depth (is it easy to navigate and click to pertinent info?)

Make sure you test your new website on multiple devices. Scroll through pages, submit test lead forms and play around to make sure that everything is functioning properly, especially on mobile devices.

2. Clean HTML

This tip, admittedly, is more of a catch-all category. This covers things like clear site navigation to on-page SEO best practices.

At a high level, 'clean HTML' refers to semantic markup and clean code. That means HTML elements are organized in a meaningful way, CSS is external and minified, fonts are loading as efficiently as possible, and JavaScript (including 3rd party libraries) aren’t slowing down your page load speed.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices can cover a wide range of tactics but a few key elements are essential to help search engine crawlers properly rank your website and help you reach a larger audience. These elements include:

  • Title tags - HTML element that specifies the title of a particular webpage, and appears as the headline in search engine results
  • Meta descriptions – HTML element that summarizes a webpage’s content and also appears under the Title tag/headline in search engine results
  • Header Tags – HTML element that defines headings of a webpage (H1 through H6 tags in order of importance)
  • ALT text – Alternative text is a word or phrase added to the img tag in HTML to give users a preview of the contents of an image

Whether you are working with a web designer or building your own on a do-it-yourself platform, your new website needs to account for those four elements above at the bare minimum.

There are other SEO elements like internal linking, URL structure and backlinks that are also very important to a full SEO strategy. But those have less to do with the design/development of a website and more so are just good best practices to implement once you are up and running.

3. Clear CTAs

A clear and easily accessible Call-to-Action (CTA) is vital for success of any website. It is a straight forward indication of what steps you want them to take next. Your website will hopefully be full of relevant, helpful content about your brand, what services or products you offer and what you can do for consumers. The only thing missing is what you want them to do after they learn all of this information about you.

Do you want them to email you or call you? Do you want them to fill out a lead form to learn more about them? Do you want them to sign up for eNewsletter distribution? Do you want them to search your product database? Do you want them to add a product to a shopping cart?

You want to make sure that your CTA easy for users to find. Often times, you will find it in the navigation at the top of a page (in a header, perhaps), and also called out in multiple locations within your website’s pages to ensure that no matter what page someone is on, they can take next steps if they want to.

4. Good use of white space (mix of visuals and text)

When building out your website, you absolutely want to make sure that you have a good amount of relevant content throughout the different pages. But you also want to make sure that you don’t overload users. Knowing how to use white space to your advantage will be key to ensure you can keep users engaged with your website content and hopefully take the next step / utilize your CTA.

It is becoming more common to try to 'chunk up' content on webpages, to allow for easier scrolling especially on mobile devices. If there are just paragraphs stacked on top of paragraphs of text on a webpage, users will be more likely to skim and scroll through without taking in the content.

Using the right mix of relevant imagery, videos, text and white space is what can set a good website apart from a bad one.

5. Staying on brand

It can be tempting to integrate in a lot of new features, fonts, imagery and colors when you are building or rebuilding your company’s website. But it is extremely important from a brand awareness perspective, as well as from a consistency perspective, to make sure that you stay true to your brand.

When a website it a bit all over the place using multiple different fonts, colors and branding in general — it can result in a poor user experience. This can undo all of the work that went into your website build in the first place. You need to keep the user at the forefront when making design decisions and remember that consistency is key.

Many companies will 'rebrand' themselves when they launch a new website, which is a good idea. But you will want to make sure that you develop a set of brand rules that you implement throughout your new website so that you use consistent fonts, colors and feel to make for a cohesive user experience when they are on your website.

Keep everything in perspective

Designing and developing a new website can be a very exciting process. Remember that there are a lot of factors that go into this undertaking. At the core of what you do, make sure that you focus on your brand, how you want users to perceive and interact with it, and what end result you want them to take while on your website.

If you are interested in learning more about how we partner with small businesses to design and develop awesome websites, contact us today. Or you can check out some of our recent website design and development work first.

A web design blog post by Krista Becker

About the author

As Humble Meteor’s Director of Digital Marketing, Krista helps connect audiences with helpful brands and their killer websites. With more than 13 years of inbound marketing and paid media experience, she never shies away from investigating a new digital marketing innovation to help bring a client’s brand to the next level. When she isn’t knee-deep in researching and writing blog articles, optimizing campaigns or conducting social media audits — she loves to bake all things yummy and hang out with her family.

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