Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Designing a Successful Website

Web design involves creating the look-and-feel of your website. It requires creativity but don’t engage just ‘any’ graphic designer, or person you know who has a creative edge – you need someone who understands the principles of designing websites which produce results.

A good web designer will firstly give the website the right image to the business to create a positive first impression, but also convince new customers to visit it again.

There are a number of design principles that are crucial to achieve a website that works, namely;

Consistency
Ensure your website reflects the branding of the rest of your business. Many companies have a strong physical business with very strong branding, but then choose a website that does not reflect that branding.

Navigation
Secondly, visitors to your website will need to be able to navigate quickly to where they want to go. If you confuse them you will most likely lose them. Clear and consistent navigation is strongly supported by placing important navigation elements in ‘standard navigational’ areas on the design. You can do this by making sure your website is template-based.

Templates
What is template-based mean? Many companies are adverse to the thought of having their website based on a template. They base that on the fear their website will look just like every other website. What most do not understand is that a template does not determine how a web site is going to look, but guides where the different information is going to be located on the web page. For example; the company’s logo will most likely be located in the top-left corner and that the visitor will be able to navigate using a menu either at the top or left-hand side of each page.

Imagine what it would be like if every time you jumped into a different car the controls were in different places. Templates have helped standardise the web and everyone’s experience of using it.

White Space
Cluttered web sites are both harder to read and to navigate. It is important not to communicate too many different ideas on the same page or to confuse it with too many offers and messages. This comes down the purpose of the web site. If you want your viewer to read the main ‘content’ and then call you for more information, then avoid putting more ‘call to action’ messages on these pages.

Avoid Heavy Images
Try to keep the number of images on the page to a minimum. Designers who know about the use of style sheets will allow them to create something visually impressive without needing images that compromise your websites loading speed and search engine ranking. On average your website must load within 8-10 seconds before it risks losing visitors because the website is too slow in loading. Mixing graphics with actual text from the code will maximize the final result of the website.

Appropriateness
Your website needs to look appropriate for the products or services it is promoting. A website has the difficult job of building trust and credibility with its visitors will immediately give the wrong impression of the quality of your work to your visitors. But be careful, even very expensive looking websites may also put off customers who can’t afford to spend more than the average expected. Make sure your website projects the right image for the target market you are after. It should “look” like it has had some time spent on it by a professional web site designer, the investment is crucial; it is after all your shop window for the online world. Just make sure it draws the attention of those who pass by it, for all the right reasons.

If you have any questions about our design processes please don’t hesitate to contact Art Division.

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