Articles/Getting Started/Tips & Tricks - Site Building

Best Design Practices

Renaldo
posted this on April 07, 2011 14:30

Powerful Tips For An Attractive, Professional Website

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You don't have to be a design expert to create a beautiful website for your business. If you're signed up with Webs, most of the work is already done for you!

The key to making your site stand out with potential customers is conveying a sense of professionalism and expertise. You can do this by making the right choices for the look of your site as well as your site's content.

Think of your website as the office where you meet and greet clients. Just as in any office, you want the surroundings to be clean, attractive, and efficient. The following tips will encourage your site’s visitors to take you seriously!

In this article we will discuss:

 

IMPORTANT: These are only recommendations and you are not obligated to use any of the advice provided here. Do what works best for you and your site!

Preparing Your Content

Many webmasters worry about how their new site will look, but the most important aspect of your site is the content. As the old adage goes “content is king” and your site’s design is secondary. The look of your site should support the written word, not the other way around.

The main reason your content is most important is that the words used on your website are what drive traffic via search engines. More than that, well-written, polished content is what will make you look more legitimate to your visitors. You want to make sure the information you present to your customers and clients is easy to read and free of grammatical errors and misspellings.

Tips for content:

  • Make sure your content is compelling, informative, relevant and original.
  • Proofread your content for clarity and to avoid grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Online readers have shorter attention spans and more specific wants. Keep your site’s pages short so that visitors won’t have to scroll several times to find the information they’re looking for.
  • Avoid typing up huge walls of text by including images where appropriate and using short, concise paragraphs, as well as bulleted lists.
  • Give your visitors a reason to keep coming back by using the Blog application to update regularly.

If you're ready to start using the Blog application to keep your site’s content fresh and updated, check out this helpful article elsewhere in our Knowledge Base:

 

Choosing Templates & Color

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The kind of template you choose for your site depends on your site’s purpose. Is your site personal or business? Do you have an arts & crafts store or a photography portfolio? Most of our templates can be chosen based on these questions, but you may want to go a step further by customizing your site with color.

Deciding on color is just as important as every other choice you make for your site’s appearance. This is because different colors convey different ideas and feelings, and some color combinations work better together than others. For example, blue, green and purple are “cool” colors while red, yellow and orange are “warm.”

A combination of blue, white and yellow can make a visitor think of the beach (water, clouds, sun), which is why many websites for vacation resorts use this color combination. A site for baby apparel will most likely use powder blues and pinks. Most restaurants use warm, inviting color combinations like rich reds and soft browns. Sites that are about electronics and cars use colors like black, grays and blues to give the impression of speed and metal.

Tips for color:

  • Try to use only a handful of colors and make sure they compliment one another. These colors make up your site’s “color palette.”
  • Make sure there’s enough contrast between background colors and text.
  • Try to use harsh or really bright colors sparingly or only as accents, not in large doses that may be distracting to your visitors.
  • Make sure your site’s colors compliment the purpose of your website.

For an in-depth look at template customization, check out these helpful articles elsewhere in our Knowledge Base:

 

Perfecting Your Images

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The best images to use on your site are original photos that you own, especially if your business relates to a product. Own a catering business? Use high quality, attractive images of your delicious dishes. Selling apparel? Make sure you use photos that really show off the lines and details of your designs.

It is recommended that your images are high quality but a quick-loading file size. Try to avoid using the BMP format, as it is a heavier file size and can slow down the load time for your page. The JPG/JPEG format is the most widely-used and reliable format for including images within your content.

Be mindful of the dimensions of your images. It's always a good idea to have images that are the same dimensions (width and height in pixels) to give a sense of consistency.

Tips for images:

  • Most of the time, the JPG/JPEG format is your best option.
  • Use images that you own or have rights to.
  • Edit your images prior to uploading them to your website.
  • When re-sizing your images, always go from big to small to avoid pixelation.
  • Images should support and enhance your written content, not overwhelm it. Avoid weighing down your page with images that load slowly or distract from your text.

For more on using images on your website, check out the following article elsewhere in our Knowledge Base:

 

Formatting Your Text

 

Your text should be consistently formatted and easy to read for your visitors. This means deciding on one font, color and size for your main text and sticking to it. Consistency is key!

The following example shows two different versions of the same About section for a website. The screenshot on the left demonstrates clean, consistent formatting while the one on the right has entire paragraphs that are center-aligned with different fonts, colors and sizes.

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Which one looks more professional?

Tips for text:

  • Try to only use all-caps for headers and titles, not for huge blocks of text like paragraphs.
  • Avoid centering entire blocks of text. Left-aligning or full-justifying your text makes it easier to read for your visitors.
  • Only use bold, italics and underlines to enhance or stress certain words, not entire paragraphs.
  • Make sure the color of your text contrasts nicely with your background images and colors.

The principles we’ve employed here can be seen all over the web on some of the biggest sites, including Webs! Not only do we adhere to these guidelines on our own website, we build them into our templates so that you can have a professional looking site of your own.

Finalizing Your Navigation

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How many pages you’ve created and the kind of template you’re using will affect the look of your navigation menu. It is generally recommended that your navigation only contains a handful of items. This is especially helpful when your layout has a top horizontal menu.

The Home, About, and Contact Us pages are standard, but depending on the purpose of your site there are several other pages you may consider adding.

  • A Blog can provide your visitors with regular updates that keep them coming back.
  • A Web Store is an obvious choice if you’re running an e-commerce site.
  • Location information is essential if you have a physical location for your business.
  • Testimonials or reviews are a great way to attract new customers.
  • FAQs or Frequently Asked Questions are a great resource for your visitors to find answers to any common questions about your product or service.
  • Terms of Service is a great way to outline all of your business practices and usage guidelines.

All of these pages can be created instantly using the powerful applications in our App Store. For more on adding applications to your website, check out this helpful article elsewhere in our Knowledge Base:

 

If you have several site pages you may want to consider using a “nested” navigation or “sub-pages.” Or, you may want to hide certain pages from your navigation. All of this done through our Site Manager. To get started, check out this article in our Knowledge Base:

 

Tips for navigation:

  • Don’t overcrowd your menu.
  • If you plan to have several navigation links, consider using a template with a side, vertical navigation instead of a top, horizontal one.
  • Display the most relevant menu items and tuck others into a sub-menu.

Other Helpful Tips

Be open to criticism.

No one wants to hear a negative opinion about their work, but criticism can be accepted as a tool for improvement rather than a personal insult. Make sure that when you ask friends and loved ones for their opinions, that you're ready to accept that feedback won't always be praise.

Don’t expect perfection the first time.

Webdesign is trial and error, so it may take several tries before you get things looking just right. Don’t let it discourage you!

Look at what other sites are doing.

Taking note of what successful corporate sites are doing will give you a general idea of modern, accepted design practices that earn the trust of customers and clients.

Keep it simple.

Using basic practices will put you on the right track to earning the trust and respect of your visitors. There's no need to worry about over-embellishing your site or adding too many features. Keeping things simple is key!

 
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