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Here are our top ten basic tips for making your website look great:
Space is really important in the layout of a website as it gives the eye room to breathe. If you use a busy background, or cram loads of information on a page, the important information will get lost and your user won't want to take the time to find what they need.
You may have a favourite font, but if it isn't web friendly, or if you haven't used Google's clever font system, the page you're designing may not look how you intended on your reader's screen. If you are really deseperate to use a font that is not available as either, it will need to be done as images. However, this will make it impossible for search engines to read it, so only use it when rthere is no other choice.
Keeping the number of different fonts you use to one or two will keep your website clean, simple and much clearer to read. If people can't read the information easily they won't bother and instead will find another website where they can. It will also give your website a professional look that it wouldn't have if you use half the font book. It's as simple as that!
Colour is a really important part of website design as it plays a major role in how the design is perceived by your audience. Using a simple colour palette when designing your website will give it a classy feel and if used correctly will lead your viewer's eye easily around the site. Trying to make your website stand out by making it fluorescent yellow will only make you look unprofessional!
Navigation is what is what gets your user around your website so it needs to be logical and easy to understand. What's the point of having lots of great content if your user can't find it? Spend time before starting to design your website thinking about how the navigation on your website will work and what is the simplest way of guiding your users to where they want to go, with the minimum of steps.
When someone visits your website they don't want to be overwhelmed with pages and pages of text. A smaller amount of well written text, presented in a clear and concise way, will make a reader far more likely to actually read it. Explaining things through photos, illustrations or even videos is a much more interesting way of conveying complicated information than huge amounts of copy people won't want to read. Better still, tempt them with something interesting and then get them to contact you to find out more.
One of the most important things to think about is who will be visiting your site. The tone and feel of a website will be very different depending on who it's aimed at. For example a website for children will be playful and visually stimulating, however a website like Amazon needs to be a lot more about conveying a lot of information in the clearest and simplest way.
Animated text is harder to read than static text. Text that moves so fast that you can't read it is pointless. Flashing text that constantly distracts the eye from the rest your site is even worse! There is only one thing that should be considered when using flashing or animated text and that is, is this enhancing the readability of my text and the message it's trying to convey? If the answer is no then it's just a distraction and it doesn't need to be there.
Centred text is harder to read because the starting position of each line changes, making the reader have to work much harder to find where each line begins to continue reading. Numbered and bulleted lists should almost always be left-aligned as well to aid in quickly scanning the list.
If you take nothing else away from today, this is the one to remember!
If readers like what they see on your website, and are interested in getting some more information, they are going to look for your contact details and making these visible and easy to find is really important. Not all users will spend time searching your site for your contact information, again if they can't find what they are looking for they will go elsewhere. Make sure your number and email are on every page, preferably in the same position (top right works best). Also don't forget to add a call to action wherever it is applicable – i.e "call us now to find out more!"
Social media can be a very powerful tool for communicating with your audience, letting them know what you are up to, telling them about special offers, or just giving them useful hints and tips. Done correctly it will help draw more traffic to your website and encourage customers to engage in a relationship with you and your business. Want to know more? Then keep an eye out for our Twitter workshops
Sam has been running Hot Sand Design (formerly the Studio) since 1999.