By Steve Hoag

website design must-haves

First impressions are everything regardless if it’s for a job interview, your girlfriend’s parents, or team try outs. Securing that good first impression will have ripple effects on all future interactions, and make life much, much easier for you. The same goes for your website! Follow these seven tips for designing your site, and we promise you won’t be hearing crickets from your customers:

Ensure your site is easily accessible.

This is becoming more and more important nowadays. People aren’t only using computers to view your site. They’re using tablets, mobile phones, iPods, gaming consoles, and TVs. Consumers are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you. This means your site must be able to support these different devices. Avoid using Flash and JavaScript, and focus on using HTML5 to ensure that your site is rendered properly.

Include social share widgets.

Social media is the hottest new technology trend of the past decade. Pretty much everyone in the world with Internet access is using it in some shape or form. In related news, people love sharing things they find with others. What does this mean for your site? It means that you need to include social sharing buttons on every single page! Make it easier for consumers to virally share your site and you will be surprised with the results.

Avoid excessive or unnecessary use of gadgets, animations and other media.

The main questions you need to ask yourself are: a) does it support my content? b) is it excessive? c) will it irritate customers like a fly? Everything on your site must support each other. Likewise, including things that sound cool like background music will only succeed in making your site look like a 13 year old’s MySpace page. Make absolutely sure that every image you choose is relevant to your business or area of expertise.  Everything on your site conveys a message to your viewers.

Use colors that synergize with your brand/business, and don’t burn your customers’ retinas.

When it comes to colors, usually going safe is a better option. Try to avoid choosing crazy colors for your site template, or too many colors. Both of these can create a negative viewing experience. Choose 3-4 colors for your entire site to be based around and you’ll be in great shape. Also, keep in mind what each separate color evokes. There are a lot of great marketing theory articles that touch on this.

Use easy to read typography.

I think everyone would agree that cursive writing looks pretty cool, especially when done right. But everyone knows that sense of frustration when they receive a birthday/holiday card and can’t figure out what their grandma is trying to write in cursive. Cool in theory, bothersome in practice. The same goes for websites. Some fonts look really interesting. Who wouldn’t want to try making a website purely in the WingDings font? However, the most important thing is making life easy for your customers. People who aren’t fluent in WingDings are going to have a lot of trouble figuring out you’re a successful lawyer if your whole site is in that font. When in doubt, choose a safe option like Times New Roman, and avoid using crazy font colors.

Create a clear, consistent layout

One of the most important things to do when designing a website is to create a clear and consistent layout for pages. Focus on creating 3-4 templates that are replicated throughout the site for certain pages. For example, one template for your homepage, another for form pages, content pages, and finally landing pages. You want your different pages to flow together so that it doesn’t appear like a different site whenever a link is clicked on. This can be done by keeping the different elements on the page relatively the same from template to template.

Navigation – KISS (Keep it simple, stupid)

Read the subtitle above. Read it again. And again. Third time is the charm right? When it comes to navigation, less is more. Don’t make it too deep; keep it around 3 levels of depth. Also, keep it at the top of the page, and use breadcrumbs so viewers can easily backtrack through the site. Place some nav items in the footer as well, and avoid using Flash or JavaScript for navigation since lots of mobile devices can’t use these formats.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, August 21, 2013 4:51:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB social media web design web trends website


Friday, October 4, 2013 7:14:07 PM

Thanks for the tip! I'll be sure to include that in a new article!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 8:20:20 AM

Great roundup. Having a mobile ready website is now more important than ever. Just to add: it would also be good to have landing pages (for FREE offers, newsletter subscription forms) to engage visitors. 

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