The best websites provide useful information to the user. When designing a website for a client, you must understand their audience and what they would expect to accomplish on their site. You can achieve this by learning about your client’s business, their audience, and their top competitors. When you combine this with the latest web design trends, you can create a website that is functional, relevant and beautiful.
As you dive into creating new websites for businesses and organizations, here are five questions to ask yourself.
Does the website provide visitors with useful information?
Always look at the website from a user’s perspective. At the very least, the site should include an informative homepage that explains what the business does and why it’s different (value proposition). It should also include a contact page so that people know where to find the business. Good websites also have a services page, a pricing page, social media buttons, and testimonials.
While the website should have a good knowledge base, you don’t have to be an expert in your client’s field to write good content. Your client can add more in-depth content to their blog. Otherwise, the rest of the website should explain what the business is doing, what makes it unique and how to become a customer.
Is the website easy to navigate?
When putting a website together, consider the navigation and how a typical user would expect things to go. Generally speaking, the most important content comes first and is easy to find. You might want to put this information above the fold or directly on the homepage. Avoid overloading users with information, but don’t make them dig for the things they would want to know.
To ensure that the pages follow a logical order, web designers typically create a flow diagram. As you set out the pages, make sure that users are able to complete actions in three clicks or less. Any more than this makes them less likely to follow through with the desired action. Calls to action should be visible and clear, with users knowing what they get in return.
Are the layout and design consistent?
Consistency is key when designing a functional website. By maintaining a reliable design, users know where to find information. They also don’t have to second guess what to do, giving them confidence in completing the desired actions.
Here are a few tips for keeping things consistent in a website:
- Design for user expectations. For example, users expect websites to scroll vertically, important information to be above the fold and links to be clickable. Don’t stray away from these basic expectations.
- Re-use similar elements. Keep all elements – colors, drop shadows, bullets, boxes, rounded corners – the same across pages. This lets people know they are still on the same site and moving through the buyer journey.
- Make navigation simple and intuitive. The navigation should be user-friendly and flow in a logical order. Include great copy that lets users know what page they are on and what they are going to learn.
- Keep branding consistent. Brands should have a consistent and familiar digital footprint across all channels. Ensure that the site aligns with other branding materials.
Is the website easy to read?
Choose fonts and typography that read well on all devices. If users have to scroll, zoom in, zoom out, etc. to read the text, they probably won’t stay very long. Make things effortless by choosing an appropriate font. We recommend simple typefaces such as serif or sans-serif. These fonts are crisp and clear and show up well on all devices.
For subheadings, change the font or bold the text so that it stands out, but always stick to the same font family. Utilize H1, H2 and H3 tags, and stay away from italics or compressed fonts. Finally, pay attention to color contrast. Reading dark text on a light background is most comfortable, but some parts of your site may have the opposite.
Does the website offer opportunities for social engagement?
Websites are excellent informational tools, but they should also be created with social interaction in mind. When people like what they see and read, they are more likely to share it with others. Not only does this bring more exposure to the brand, but also it positions them as a thought leader.
Include icons for your client’s social media profiles so that the content can be easily shared. Social proof is equally important, so gather genuine testimonials and reviews from customers, along with a name and a picture.
By asking yourself these five questions, you can continue to create beautiful, functional websites that rank well in the search engines and are enjoyable for people to use.