Eight principles of good website design

It would seem that when it comes to website design, we have come full circle. Gone (or should be gone) are the days of things flashing across your screen just for the sake of it, or those annoying navigation menus you have to roll over to find out where the links go.
Your visitors want content; information about you, your products and services. So why distract them with non-essentials? Stick to these eight principles, and you’ll be on your way to a sound, strong website presence.

1. Site Organisation

  • A well laid out site is better than a fancy site. Users want fast, easy, logical access to your information. Yahoo! may not be pretty but it works. That being said, of course, proper brand execution is also critical, as long as the organisation is maintained.
  • ‘Know Thy Audience’ is the foremost commandment of web design. Site structure should be determined with full consideration of the site’s purpose and target audience. The same information can be organised in more than one way, depending on the proposed usage and audience.
  • A typical small business information site should have between 8 and 10 main links at maximum (make good use of sublinks).

2. Navigational Structure

  • The way people find their way throughout your site should be clearly indicated throughout the site. Your goal is to ensure that a visitor is never more than two clicks away from anywhere else on your website.

3. Content is KING

  • People are looking for content in the end. If it’s difficult to find the information you’re shooting yourself in the foot. If your site is well-designed, this should be a transparent experience for the visitor.
  • Resist the all-too-common urge to place absolutely everything about your company on the site – it won’t be read.
  • Try to use bullet points and less content. Studies show that people are much more inclined to read short chunks of information as opposed to paragraphs (think of newspapers).
  • Black text on a white background is always ideal
  • Avoid jargon that won’t be understood by your customers and prospect

4. Design does matter

  • Look and feel should promote and enhance the brand you have (or are trying to establish)
  • The graphical display should be consistent throughout the site, including colours, fonts, and general layout.
  • The design doesn’t only refer to graphics but also how intuitive a website is. Always think from the perspective of your visitor. Is this piece of information easy to find? Are the items I want front-and-centre correctly positioned?

5. Branding

  • How do you want to be perceived? What ‘face’ do you want to present to the public? Consider this when selecting a design.
  • Move your feature products/services by putting them up front. Don’t bury them.
  • Make your sales pitch immediately. Don’t let visitors guess what kind of business you’re in. Use images and words that relate to what you do to convey a clear message.

6. Own the user

  • Don’t send users off your site unless it’s completely necessary.

7. Fast loading

  • If your site doesn’t load within 8 seconds, 33% of your potential visitors will leave.

8. Keep your website current

  • Use a content management solution that enables you to update your website in real-time, from anywhere.