As a Front-end Web Developer at Walpole Digital Media, I am involved with a variety of aspects of projects, from the initial client meet and requirements gathering, producing designs, bringing them to life and turning them into a website.
Although each project is different, I’ve learned that there are several universal tips that can be applied whatever the challenge. Below I share my top 10.
- Avoid carousel image sliders
They may look like a showcase piece, but there aren’t any studies that suggest that sliders are a good idea. When designing a website, I always insist that we avoid using a slider and point people to http://shouldiuseacarousel.com/ when wanting to explain why we should not use a slider.
And here’s why:
- Only 1% of the people actually click on a slide, which almost always was the first slide;
- People simply ignore your slider, because it triggers banner blindness;
- They slow down your site, negatively impacting your SEO and conversion rate;
- They don’t always work well on mobile devices,
- They push your content down, which Google recently mentioned yet again is not smart;
- It dilutes your message, because suddenly there are multiple messages on your homepage.
- Use images
So what should you fill the carousel-void white space with? A relevant and professional image that fits the style and theme of your website will be much more effective. This gives your user a single focal point. It doesn’t need to be boring either; a good web developer will know great ways to display imagery, just have a look at enrola. There’s a lot of focus on images, and we can see some images move and fade into position, some are fixed and as you scroll you see different parts of the image and some are static.
- Care for content
In the initial stages of a project, I usually insist that we design content first – this simply means that the client provides all the website content before we design. Although the content may change over time, it gives the designer a good idea as how to best structure the content, how headings will be used and displayed and the overall design in general. It may seem like a small thing, but it goes a long way in helping the designer get a feel of the visuals.
- Keep it simple
In 2011, well renowned usability expert Jakob Nielsen published an article about how long users stay on web pages. He says users won’t stay on your website for very long, often leaving within 10-20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer.
Your website visitors are on your website for a reason, you don’t want to make them work too hard to find what they’re looking for. Your website design should be simple and not overly complicated; if it’s too difficult to understand then your users will lose interest and move on. Aside from design, you should keep your navigation and page structure simple. Users want to find what they are looking for in as few clicks and page loads as possible.
- Use white space
On more than one occasion I’ve had clients say to me that there is too much white space in my design and the space needs to be reduced so the screen is filled with more content.
I understand it’s important to get the user’s’ attention straight away, and you want to show them as much as possible above the fold. However, white space is essential to good design. It makes your content more legible and gives it breathing space. When content and parts of your website are too close together, the user is more likely to lose focus.
- Use attractive Calls to Actions
Most websites will have a Call to Action (CTA), whether it’s getting your visitors to read an article, sign up or even to contact you.
There are some things to consider when designing your CTA, such as:
- Design – it should look attractive, eye catching and enticing.
- Wording – short and concise with the correct possessive determiners. Studies have shown the use of ‘my’ in a CTA is far better than using ‘your’.
- Colour – the button should stand out from the rest of the page and recognised as a clickable button. There isn’t a specific colour that you should go with, as long as the rules above apply.
- Size – make the button too small and it won’t be visible, make it too big and it looks like you’re trying too hard. A bigger button isn’t automatically better, so be sure to find the right balance.
- And positioning – usually CTAs will be placed above the fold, which is great! But it really depends on what you are trying to sell. If you have a complex product, having a CTA at the top may not help as users will not know what it is until they scroll down to read about it, resulting in the CTA being placed afterwards the more logical option.
- Make sure your website is mobile friendly
With the virtual world easily accessible from the palms of our hands, it’s essential that your website is mobile and tablet friendly, also known as ‘responsive’ in web terms. You will often realise that the layout of the website changes when you view a website from your laptop and come back to it later on your mobile or tablet – this means the website is mobile and tablet friendly.
Furthermore, Google disapprove and discredit your website in their ranking system if your website is not friendly for devices other than desktop or laptops. If you want to get onto the first page of Google, then this is good start. After all, who doesn’t like being on the first page?
- Keep your website consistent
Keeping your design consistent is about being professional. Inconsistencies with headings, styling, fonts and more are like having spelling mistakes in an essay. They lower the perception of quality.
It’s important to keep elements on your website fairly consistent and when users browse through your website, they expect things to be the same.
- Get social
If you haven’t set up social media accounts for your website, do it now! Keeping your social media account active and interesting can help boost your business and lead to traffic on your website. You can’t expect users to be coming onto your website everyday, but you can expect them to follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook. Once you’ve got their attention, you can reach out to them with regular posts and updates to keep them interested.
You can also link your social media accounts to your website by adding widgets.
- Hire a professional
And finally, it may seem obvious, but you should always hire a professional. Sure, we may know that friend of a friend, or an individual who is offering their services for a very small amount on a Facebook group, but before you go down that path – think about what is being represented. Your brand. Your identity. Trust.
As I’ve mentioned already, users will take a few seconds to immediately judge whether they trust your brand and website, and if they don’t, then they have no business doing on your website. And this will be a recurrence.