by: Christine Swartzendruber, Chief Technology Officer
Obviously you want your website to have a great design. You want the colors to work well together and have a modern feel. You want easy to find links and navigation, and you choose images that will draw in your audience. All of these things are important but there are other design techniques to use when you are designing for the web.
Understanding “Below the Fold”
Over the past few years, it has become increasingly more prevalent to design home pages and landing pages “above the fold”. This means that a user will not have to scroll down to see any of the page’s content. Many will tell you this is a best practice, but is that true? Maybe not.
Some marketing analysis shows that calls to action can actually work better if they are below the fold. It’s more about motivation than placement. How motivated is a prospective buyer to click that button? If he or she has taken the time to read through the content on the page, probably more motivated. The point is, don’t get hung up on cramming everything into a space. If a user is interested in what you have to offer, they will scroll to find more.
Becoming Flexible With Responsive Design
When I’m curious about something, I pull out my cell phone and google it. The worst thing that can happen is selecting a link for a site that is not mobile friendly. I have to awkwardly scroll and resize just to read the tiny text.
Responsive web design responds to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size. In other words, no more tiny, unreadable text. If you haven’t started designing pages responsively, now is the time. My favorite resource for getting started, is Responsive Web Design, by Ethan Marcotte
Less Is More, Keep It Simple
It’s important to know where you want to end up when your design is complete. It’s equally important to go back and make sure you got there. When you think you’re done, go back over everything and define pieces that you can simplify or do without all together. Typically it is said that 20% of website elements get you 80% of your desired results. Get rid of any unnecessary elements on the page.
Make Sure Your Content Is Organized and Concise
Page content is what will drive traffic to your site. Disorganized content is a fail. Search engines won’t hop all over the place to put the puzzle together. Make sure your content is clear.
- Put enough white space between elements on the page.
Be consistent. Use a standard template for every page of the site. Don’t move common elements around so users have to search for them.
- Make navigation clear and use textual descriptions for all links. Never use “click here” to redirect a user.
- Keep your forms simple. Don’t ask for information you don’t need.
Consider creating a comprehensive, detailed wire-frame before you start designing. These are just a few principals of great web design that go beyond just a color scheme or photo choices. Consider these things when you begin the design process. The results will be a better experience for your users.