Web design has become more complex since the Internet was invented. Gone are the days of simple text-based sites; new sites are expected to keep up with the latest concepts in web design. Your site should be visually appealing and user friendly at the same time. The following fundamentals will help you design a great site that will appeal to your visitors and keep them coming back to visit.
* Text, Font & Color – Keep your entire audience in mind, and choose fonts that are easy to read. Italic fonts may be pretty, but many users have trouble reading these types of fonts. In addition, make sure the color of the text contrasts with the background enough so that it is easily read, but not so much that it gives your visitors a headache. White text on a black background might look nice, but it can cause issues for elderly visitors or those with vision problems. Likewise, don’t choose font sizes that are so small that your guests have to change their computer settings to make it large enough to read, and don’t choose HUGE in-your-face font sizes that scream at them. A “happy medium” is always the best choice, as Jason Santa Maria demonstrates for us.
* Graphics – There are several things to keep in mind when you are designing the graphics for your site.
First, you want to grab your visitors’ attention without giving them a seizure. Choose graphics that are large and colorful enough to stand out, but not huge and in the way of the meat and potatoes of your site. Also keep in mind that not everyone who visits you is going to have a screaming fast Internet connection; there are a large majority of computer users that stil access the web via a 56K dial-up connection. There are also many different web browsers on the market, so make sure your site can be accessed from slower connections and multiple browsers. If you need inspiration, Incion has put together an amazing site with beautiful graphics that is very user-friendly – check them out!
* Navigation – Make your site easy to navigate, so users don’t become frustrated and click away to other competing sites. Put easily visible links to other pages and information within your site in visible areas. Likewise, consider an easy-to-use search function that is located near the top of the page so your visitors are able to find what features they are looking for if they don’t see it at first glance. A site map is always a good idea; many sites have a link to this at the bottom of each page, but you can link it in your header or sidebar as well. If you need ideas, SEOConsultantsDirectory has a fabulous example of a site map and site search tool.
Once you design your site, the most important thing is to test it, and then test it some more. Enlist the help of friends or colleagues and load each page on different web browsers to make sure everyone can access your information in a timely, frustration-free manner. Keeping your visitors happy is the best way to keep them coming back and get them to refer their friends to you. And we all know that more visits equal more revenue and a bigger reach into the global market.