Whether you’re a client with big ambitions and a tight budget or a designer with only the vaguest of briefs, deciding on the look of a website can be a tall order for even the most creative of minds. Below you’ll find a few tips to consider that may just help to make the process smoother for all concerned.

Some clients know from the starting block how they want their site to appear and function. Some don’t have a preference until they’ve seen the first proof, while others are happy as long as it’s sleek and professional. It’s a good idea to come armed with a plan, however vague it might be, so that we (or any design team you choose) will have a better understanding of the project overall.

Consider your audience and the competition.

Browsing the internet for companies similar to your own can be a great way to find inspiration and learn what it is that potential visitors will expect. The true enemy of good web design is a lack of customer focus, so be sure to think about how these successful, established brands are pulling in their viewers and converting them into paying customers.

Colour and image preference.

Having viewed the competition and noticed how they seem to have a strong sense of identity, there’s a good chance you’ve already decided on a colour scheme. Most people know that they shouldn’t be splashing bright greens and pinks all over their web pages – what’s more difficult to know is which direction to take in terms of imagery. We advise you to browse sites such as Shutterstock where you can purchase high-res imagery for around £7 each, which is a paltry sum for something that could make a tremendous impact in the long run. As mentioned in a previous post regarding photography, you can’t just swipe pictures from Google – broadly speaking, that’s actually illegal.

Homepage layout…

It’s important for every page to look presentable, especially as you’re never quite sure which page any given visitor will see first, but the homepage remains by far the most important. This is essentially where the selling is done – selling yourself, your business, your product, or simply where you capture the reader’s attention.

A main slider is a great and popular way for your site to make a big entrance. You may want to keep things as simple as possible (and we’d certainly agree that simple is good) but there is something to be said for a little flashiness to engage your audience. In small doses, fade-in animations and sliding photos can take a static website and turn it into something that holds attention for longer. A header that changes in size as you scroll down is a clever piece of web trickery that can help make your site look top of the range, and is often seen on the sites of web designers themselves.

… and homepage content.

One thing that we see many times is a lack of meaningful content on the homepage, relegated instead to specific pages. it’s understandable you’d need more pages to convey your message or sell your product, but outright ignoring a major part of your business on the main page won’t be doing you or your consumers any favours. You’ll also want to include a means of contact and some sort of call-to-action. In other words, try to ensure your homepage has all the bases covered.

A responsive site is a modern site.

There is one area where you won’t have as much control as you’d like, and that comes from mobile responsiveness. The modern ways of web design dictate that a site must be easily read and used on a mobile device, be it a Kindle, iPad or mobile phone, each with their own specs and screen sizes. This puts functionality before visuals and so may not appeal to someone with old-school tastes. It’s now a necessity however, as search engines will now put a responsive site ahead of an older model. This leads onto our final point…

User experience first. Personal preference second.

The number one rule is that your website is designed for visitors and should be as easy for them to use as possible. The best sites balance fancy elements with a simple interface, meaning they’re visually attractive and simple in their design. You may have your heart set on having your price list a particular way, but if it’s hard to read then it’ll only work to the site’s detriment, and in turn the detriment of your business. When in doubt always go with simple, clean and responsive. It’s the way of modern web design for a good reason.

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