Full disclosure: I’m not a website designer or developer by any means, I just have experience when it comes to navigating various webpages and formulating an opinion about what works and what doesn’t. Have you ever stumbled upon a website and were looking for something in particular—contact information, reviews, etc.—and it was nowhere in sight? Or did you have difficulty reading the content due to the wonky font or colour choice? If you’re creating or redesigning your current website, below are a few things to keep in mind during the planning process. You should note that you don’t necessarily have to work with web designers as there are a lot of low-cost alternatives out there (such as buying pre-made and customizable templates), but if it’s in your budget, don’t be afraid to approach a few reputable designers and see how they can help bring your vision to life!
- Define your goal. If you’re looking at providing basic information about your product or service offerings and your brand, make note of it. If you are looking at selling products online, ensure that’s your focus. Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s easily defined and be sure that each page on your site serves its purpose.
- Identify your audience. You must know who you are trying to reach before even designing your website to be able to create content that is appealing to your audience. What’s the point of creating a website that your target market isn’t interested in?
- Ensure your site is easy to navigate. Taking one of the above points a step further: it’s absolutely crucial that visitors can easily navigate the website. I know that when I visit a site and can’t find what I’m looking for, or if I have to click through 5 menus (and what feels like a labyrinth) to get to the page I am looking for, I will just abandon the website completely. Use simple drop-down menus, anchor tags (clickable links that can help visitors jump to a specific location on the page without having to scroll endlessly), search bars, etc., to ensure individuals can navigate effortlessly.
- Choose colours carefully. Colour plays a huge role in the overall look of your website. Pick colours that match your brand, logo, graphics, and avoid those that clash. I have visited many websites with yellow backgrounds and white font, rendering their content illegible.
- Figure out the font. Choose a simple font with good readability. While some of the fancier, custom fonts look really nice, they may not load across all devices correctly. When in doubt, use a basic font such as Arial, Verdana or Calibri.
- Get social! Don’t forget to link your social media accounts to your website and vice versa. This will ensure your various accounts receive traction which can lead to an increase in engagement!
- A picture is worth a thousand words. Choose high quality, stunning photos. Purchase stock photos if need be. If you are selling products/services, ensure that the pictures you (or a photographer) take are the best possible representation of your product.
- Make it mobile friendly. The number of individuals who access the internet from their phone surpasses those who access it using their computers/laptops. If you’re not able to reach your audience through a mobile version of your website, it may easily dissuade them from visiting your website in the future.
Web design can be a very simple or complex process depending upon your capabilities and creativity. If you’re stuck, reach out to your network or visit a company’s website whose design you admire; most of the time the designer is listed in the footer of the webpage. Ask around and compare designers before settling for the first one you speak with, and don’t be afraid to be involved in the process from start to finish—it is your website after all! Good luck!