It’s no secret that a good website design leads to good business. Customers and visitors who are able to easily navigate your website and enjoy all of its features, without regard to device, browser, or operating system, are the people you will establish as loyal repeat clients. If you’re designing a website for your business or just for yourself personally, there are a few essential guidelines to follow that will ensure your site is accessible and usable by the largest number of people.
Pay Attention to Formatting and Standards
In the early days of web design, websites used so-called “tables” to organize information into rows and columns. The code was highly inefficient, with multiple lines of HTML needed to specify just one column’s position, width, and other formatting details. Furthermore, tables were never designed to be design elements — they were designed to hold numbers and raw data.
Because of this, designing a website with tables has fallen out of favor and is no longer supported by the Word Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – web design standards body. In lieu of tables, the W3C prefers that websites be designed with CSS-implemented coding that styles HTML elements like the tag. This ensures that your website is styled and displayed uniformly across every operating system and web browser.
Using XHTML and CSS coding, instead of traditional HTML coding that doesn’t adhere to standards, its a good idea for more than just your page’s layout. It’s the preferred method of determining background and font colors, font weight, emphasis, and every visual aspect of your website’s appearance on the screen.
Use Page Templates to Create Uniformity
For user reference and convenience, you should design every page of your website using the same basic template.That means that the page’s header, navigation, sidebars, and footer should be in the same place on every single page. Additionally, every page should have matching colors and styling in order to create a consistent user experience that a client can adapt to and become comfortable with.
The content within this basic template that dictates the look and feel of your site can certainly vary on each page, but that content should always be in the same place — and look the same — no matter which page it is placed on.
This is especially important for ecommerce websites that need a similar template type website. Browse through Bigcommerce.com’s online store software to see various designs that they offer.
Pay Attention to Navigation
There are multiple reasons to keep your site’s navigation at the forefront of your design. First and foremost, the dominance of search engines means that customers will rarely enter your page from the homepage. Sometimes, they’ll land on your “about me” page first, and they’ll need a way to get back to your site’s main page.
Your navigation should always include a prominent link to the homepage that identifies it as “home” in a textual way. And the navigation buttons or menu should be uniform on every single page. This is part of the necessary template system that will keep your pages easy to navigate and understand for a wide audience.
Make it Readable
Finally, it’s essential that your choice of colors allows your content to be easily read by all of your visitors. Remember that the internet has as many young users as old ones, and the older ones will need more stark color contrast to be able to read your content easily. It seems like the most basic of tips, but it’s one of the most common errors made among designers.
When designing your website, remember that you must balance that which looks good with that which functions well. The internet is essentially function over form: make sure a user can read and engage with the website successfully, and then worry about how well the design looks from a purely visual standpoint.