Websites flourish or flop for many different reasons. But two things that the best, most successful sites have in common are simple design and intuitive navigation. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that simplicity comes easy. Focusing on the most important elements and appearing effortless is one of the toughest acts to pull off. It requires diligent research and thoughtful decisions. After all, cutting to the chase means avoid unnecessary information and distracting clutter.
Before you start playing with templates or talking with programmers about web design services, take some time to think about what you want your site to accomplish — and why. Consider the audience you hope to attract and what they need from you. Anticipating their information needs and delivering accessible solutions to their problems can make it easier for customers to purchase your product(s).
As part of your research and preparation, also think about the specific types of content and features you want to provide on your website and then loosely group similar components. This exercise can help you get a sense of the volume and balance issues you may need to address before you get into the waters of web design.
Deciding what to feature on the homepage of your site and how to organize all the other content and features you want to offer your visitors can be tougher than connecting with tech support after hours. The goal is to provide the right amount of information and depth so users find value without crossing the line too much. Too much information causes people to get overwhelmed and leave your website. Figuring out what constitutes the right amount of information, however, is harder than it may seem.
Based on your target customer, start by determining what they’ll consider a positive experience when they visit your site. Here are a few basic elements to consider when you’re making decisions about web design for your small business:
- Advertising: No one wants to be assaulted with a screen of blinking ads and annoying buzzers, so find a discrete way to incorporate advertising if you must include it on your site. Avoid advertising on your website if you can.
- Graphics: Use graphic elements to help users understand a concept or reinforce a positive feeling. Just keep in mind that graphics require a longer load time than text, so use this element properly. Fundamentally, that means compressing images and not placing text over graphics.
- Navigation: Be sure to include a way back home on every page of your site and include a full menu, too, so users can get where they want to go no matter where they happen to be.
- Text Formatting: Use appropriate line spacing and a legible size of type to ensure that users can focus on absorbing the information on your site and are not distracted by formatting problems.