Optimized Webmedia’s Website Design & Development Best Practices
The web design and development processes are complex and multifaceted process, and it’s vital to have the right specialists on board to create a website that meets your business goals and objectives. Since your website functions as an online branding tool and is one first online impressions that your business will make with your prospective customers, it’s important that best practices are used in User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design, branding, and development, i.e. screen resolution, mobile compatibility, navigation, and website architecture.
Website Design Best Practices
1. Know your audience
One of the most important insights in the design process is understanding your intended audience and target market. Storyboarding, market research, competitor and customer analysis are important tasks that need to be conducted. Having a customized website design which incorporates all this data will enable you to differentiate and stand out from the competition.
2. User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI)
It’s important to understand how UI plays into UX, as mentioned in Elegant Theme’s article, 10 Rules of Good UI Design to Follow On Every Web Design Project. User experience is the internal experience that a visitor has as they interact with the website content. UX involves the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and brand loyalty through improving the ease of use, usability, and the pleasure that is provided as the visitor interacts with the website. User interface is the series of screens, pages, and visual elements, and it includes the presentation, look and feel, and interactivity of the website. Both UX and UI are crucial to a compelling website design.
3. Keep it simple, fresh, unique, and consistent
The fundamental of a strong UX/UI is having a design that is simple, fresh, unique, and consistent. If your website appears like all other websites or appears as an off-the-shelf template, you’ll miss the opportunity to create unique impressions with your visitors, which may negatively impact your sales revenues.
4. Compelling layout design
The elements of the website interface help visitors focus on various areas of the site. One technique to help achieve this is to make the focal point element larger, and ensure to make good use of white space. Having an attractive layout ensures that the design catches the attention of the visitor and maintains it. Examples of good design layout practices include having a consistent header, logo and navigation, a good contrast of text and background, and a good balance between text, images, and white space.
Font has personality, and it should speak to your audience. The size, style, and color are important. You can make a huge impact and connection with your audience by considering typography in your overall design strategies.
6. Colors and contrast
When choosing the right colors for your design, you should consider the psychology of colors and color contrasting. Colors can be used to convey visual hierarchy, elevate your designs and keep your visitors engaged on your website, as well as establish a relationship with visitors. You’ll want to maintain uniformity, convey visual cues, and keep your color scheme relatively to a minimum.
8. Content is important
Search engines such as google, indexes websites based on the quality of the content and links. The more quality content is on your website, the more attractive that your website becomes for search engines. Ensure that you have high quality content throughout your website and blog section. If your website has content that is old and outdated, and have poor content, your visitors will most likely bounce which will negatively affect your google rankings. Also, ensure that there is a good balance of graphics, and multimedia, such as video content within your website.
9. Downloadable content and call to actions (CTA)
Smashing Magazine defines CTA in its article, Web Design Elements: Examples And Best Practices, as “Call to action in web design — and in user experience (UX) in particular — is a term used for elements in a web page that solicit an action from the user”. Webinars and downloadable content such as eBooks, white papers, and case studies, are very useful to elicit a call to action and engage visitors within your website. The downloadable and viewable marketing assets can also serve as the basis of your digital marketing efforts to drive more traffic to your website, and generate quality leads. Your website can serve as the central hub for all your digital and social media marketing initiatives.
10. Showcase your products and services
You only need a few seconds to make a first impression that is professional and differentiated. Ensure that you use high quality and clean graphics to best showcase your products and services. Ensure also that solid descriptions that matches with the images.
11. Simplified forms
Contact forms are typically the main methods through which your website visitors interact with your company to submit inquiries about your products and/ or services. Ensure that your forms are simple and doesn’t detract your visitors from completing the form.
Website Development Best Practices
1. Website development steps to consider:
(a) Production: Who will manage the process, i.e. Project Manager or Champion; who will be the content experts; who will be the liaison with the outside contractors?
(b) Technology: Operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux), browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer), network bandwidth, programming language, Content Management System (CMS), domain name and hosting.
(c) Web support.
(d) Budgeting: Staffing costs, hardware and software, server, training, outsourcing fee.
2. 301 Redirect Strategy
If you are redesigning your website, you need to have a 301 redirect strategy for SEO. As per HubSpot’s article, What is a 301 Redirect, and When Should You Use One?, “A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. 301 redirects send site visitors and search engines to a different URL than the one they originally typed into their browser or selected from a search engine results page.” If you launch a site with this in place, then you could lose a lot of website traffic. Ensure that 301 Redirects are a part of your overall project scope.
3. Site definition and planning
This is the initiation and planning stage of the web project. The goals and objectives of the website will be collected and analyzed, where then budgets and timelines are assessed. The project scope, Content Management Systems (CMS), interactive functionalities, and technology integrations are also defined.
4. Information architecture
At this phase, the content and organization of the website are organized, and aligns with the UX/ UI design steps. The architecture of the website is usually prototyped using wireframing techniques – InVision is a popular tool used today in the design realm.
5. Website design
The look, feel, and overall brand is designed. In the UX/UI design phase, market research, persona identification, writing, organization, assembling and editing are all crucial steps. Images and content are collected at this stage and the output will usually be in the form of a vector file or wire-frame.
6. Site construction
At this stage of the web development process, the finalized design gets coded into the website. The deliverables at this stage are fully programmed web pages with content, graphics, and database components in place. Once the design and development are complete, it’s important that the website goes through a rigorous Quality Assurance (QA) testing to ensure that the coding is clean, functional, has optimized loading times, and the website is responsive on all browsers, devices, and operating systems.
7. Website marketing
If you are hoping to use your website more than just an online brochure, then it should be an integral part of your marketing campaigns and corporate communication programs. When configured properly, your website can act as the central hub of all your digital marketing initiatives such as lead generation activities, and social media marketing. The idea is to generate traffic to your website, which will ultimately convert to sales revenues.
8. Tracking, evaluation, and maintenance
“Customers do not come to a site to admire the visual appearance. They are there for some actionable reason – to find certain information or to accomplish a particular task”, as mentioned in 1st Web Designer’s article, Web Design Best Practices for Reviving a Stagnate Website. It’s important to have a good understanding of your website visitors, such as where the traffic is being generated, bounce rates, which browsers and devices they are using, and which variables within your website is the most effective. This can be achieved by integrating Google Analytics with your website. The data that is generated can be used to optimize your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies.
This post was published by Donald Kim at Optimized Webmedia. Optimized Webmedia is a customer centric, 360° Digital Marketing agency, specializing in SEO, AdWords, Content Writing, Social Media Marketing, and Website Design. To learn how Optimized Webmedia can help optimize your website to attract more visitors, book a free consultation and ask for our free SEO Site Audit.