Website design can be a fickle thing – one minute you’re supposed to have a certain kind of layout, the next minute, it’s old news! However, this is actually the nature of web design.
The general consensus is that you should do a complete redesign every two to three years to keep across changing expectations from users and advances in technology (and to make sure your search engine optimisation is up-to-date).
So, if 2021 is your year to freshen up your online presence, here are the top five ‘do’s’ to include, and ‘don’ts’ to avoid.
Do focus on user experience
The end-user of your website should be at the very heart of every decision you make. So from the point of arriving on your homepage to navigating through the different pages to understanding what it is you offer – visitors should easily be able to take away what it is they were after. Every step should be clear, concise and user-friendly.
Don’t use generic stock images
Visual aids are important for websites, they help break up text and good imagery can help portray brand themes. But generic stock images don’t. So get your own – it’ll be far more authentic and compelling for those visiting your site.
Do put the customer first
Sorry, but your website isn’t about you. It’s about what you can do for your customer, so make sure your content clearly illustrates what potential customers will benefit from if they choose you.
And don’t be afraid to get personal and use the word ‘you’ – speak directly to them as though they are the only one in the room.
Don’t confuse with too many options
Every website should have one core purpose – whether that is to drive sales, generate leads, or build expertise – but when you offer everything from a free trial to a consultation, an ebook download and a myriad of other options, people get confused. Give them one (or maybe two) things to choose from so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Many good websites will have one option for those who know they want to ‘buy now’ and another for those who need more info before moving forward.
Do design with accessibility in mind
Web accessibility comes with challenges for some people, so ensure your website is accessible for those with hearing or visual impairments.
Don’t make users wait
Fast, responsive websites are extremely important here in 2021 (and beyond). In fact, research has found that around 47% of users expect a web page to load in two seconds or less. And 40% of users will abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load! From compressing images to testing your site speed and checking in with your web hosting partner, do what you can to make everything as quick as it can possibly be.
Do optimise for mobile traffic
With each passing year, mobile continues to slowly release the desktop’s grip on online browsing. Yet when designing a website, many still continue to focus on how they look on a desktop or laptop. Of course, things look a lot ‘nicer’ spread out on a larger screen, but the likelihood is, that more than half of your traffic probably isn’t seeing that version. So design with mobile users in mind. For example, what do mobile users predominantly scroll and click with? Their fingers. Make clickable elements larger, forms easier to fill out and check that any pop-ups don’t have their ‘x’ button lost at the top of the screen.
Don’t only focus on design
If you are doing a website refresh, it is easy to get caught up in how you want it to look. But don’t forget about content. They should actually always be developed side-by-side, (or in some cases, content first) so they can complement each other – instead of the words being an afterthought to fit in where there is room.
Sure, design can make things look great, but it is the words that tell the story and often having them placed first allows the designer to then work to enhance them.
Do concentrate on consistency
From fronts to graphics, colour palettes and more – try not to fall into the trap of having all sorts of different things going on on your website. Consistency is key and this means keeping things simple and straightforward. Remember where we mentioned above about focusing on your website’s core purpose? Having order and conformity makes this clearer to follow.
Don’t forget to test
Technology isn’t always 100% accurate. Things happen. Links can get broken and mistakes can occur in the code of your website. So make sure you test all your web pages and ask others in the business as well. Check that everything works the way it should (and make a note to do this every few months or so). If you have an online store – go through the checkout to ensure the process is without any hiccups or errors.
By Erin Harrison, Guest Blogger
Erin loves all things content and digital marketing. She has been freelancing since for-ever-ago and there is almost no industry Erin hasn’t carefully crafted content for – across both print and online.