There are few things that bother me more than a poorly designed web site. We have all seen it: bevel effects on everything, clip art from the 80’s, overcrowded layouts that look like the content is having a riot, the list goes on and on and on and… You get the gist of it.
Conversely, there are few things on the web that I like more than a web site design that inspires me to push the limits of my own designs. A good website design is akin to good art. While I plaster my refrigeration with my children’s art, I wouldn’t pay thousands of dollars for an original. I am not a ‘Rembrandt’ nor am I a ‘Da Vinci’, and consequently I still have both of my ears. Still, I strive to produce the cleanest designs with the most intuitive user interfaces. A great website design is not only art, it is an engendered representation of your client and or their business. A great website design is both art and reflection.
1) Blend in… or Stand Out!
It is important to go with the flow. You do not want to build a site that is so different from your client’s competition’s sites that their end users feel uncomfortable when they go to the site. That will, in effect, be more likely to be detrimental and could potentially drive business to their customers. The look and feel of a site should be unique, and yet have familiar elements that will engender a sense of comfort to its end users.
Are there and exceptions to the ‘blend in’ rule? That should go without saying. But if you need it spelled out, then the answer is ‘Of course there are!’. If all of your client’s competitor’s sites look like a pile of poo, then a vast departure from the look and feel of their sites to something more modern will likely drive business to your client and away from their competitors. Think about it in terms of paternal advice: if all of your friends jumped off a cliff (presumably with out a parachute, or without being strapped into a harness attached to something that would save their life…), would you follow them? I will leave the answer of that question up to you. If you get it wrong, I suppose the herd could use some thinning anyway…
2) Communicate Quicker with Images and Icons
The human brain processes images and icons faster than it can process words. It does so without cognizance. Common icons are universal, and the brain is trained to respond to them as such. For example, a paperclip is synonymous with attachments, a three sided arrow pointing to the right is synonymous with the ‘play’ action, etc. There are a plethora of icon libraries. I suggest using a single library per website in order to… well… in order to maintain order of course!
3) Color as a design element, not as decoration
Color makes all the difference, especially as our screens get better on our phones and tablets. It’s a facet of design that can be a really key part of the story your website wants to tell. Just use color to support content, not decorate a page. And often if you’re using a photo, the colors in the design should be sampled from the photos used so your design has a nice unified feel.
As for images, make sure to use the alt and the title attributes. Not doing so is a demerit for Search Engine Optimization, and is in the words of Deadpool, “a total dick move” toward the vision impaired. Don’t be ‘that guy.’
4) Do not be a Font Whore
You read that right. Pick a font, or two, or at the very most three. As for the fonts you pick, pick something that will be legible. If the users can not read your font, there is no point in having content. Simple enough, right?
5) Clean and Concise
Content is key to Search Engine Optimization. But too much content kills a good web design. If your site has a very large amount of content, use jQuery or Bootstrap UI elements to help contain and even restrain the content until the user is ready to read it. Do not go overboard with the fun UI tricks though. Too much bling turns a work of art into a tacky car salesman of a web design.
6) Alright Meow
Fort Collins, Red Feather Lakes, Livermore, Colorado, Web Design, Web Development, Graphic Design, SEO, and Branding. Search Engine Whore. Not to be a black hat, but to get a laugh. Move along meow.
7) Have a Good Day Meow