5 Golden Rules of a Well Designed Website: Part One
This post is part of my '5 Golden Rules of a Well Designed Website' series. You can read all five parts right now, in addition to some extra resources, by downloading my guide and workbook.
PART ONE: GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY CAME FOR
When a professional web designer begins a new project, the very first step is obtaining and understanding the client’s brief. My own clients fill out a detailed questionnaire and we talk on Skype before the build commences to make sure I know exactly what they need their website to be saying about their business and what they want their customers to feel, find and most importantly do when they get there.
You, dear DIY-er, need a brief too. Get super clear on your ideal customer and more importantly, what they’re most likely looking for when they arrive on your site. Is it a portfolio? Service and pricing information? Details of your location and opening hours? It could be a number things, but if you really think about it, there’s probably only one or two specific things that 80% of your visitors have come looking for. Once you’ve worked that out: give it to them. Make sure that the information is easy to find right off the bat, either by placing it on your home page or making a link to it clearly available above the fold.
Above the fold is a term originally stemming from when we got all of our information from a daily newspaper. Anything on the top half of the front cover was all that could be seen when the paper was on the news-stands or being hawked in the street. Nowadays, web designers use it to refer to anything that can be seen in a viewer’s browser when they land on your page before scrolling down. I highly recommend having your navigation, logo, business name, an appealing image and perhaps a link to something special a visitor may have come for (Spring Sale! Sign-Up For The Course! Book Tickets Here) above the fold, but the ‘power of the fold’ is somewhat of a myth in today’s world. Everyone scrolls. The key is to have your ‘above the fold’ looking a) attractive and appealing, b) recognisable and on-brand and c) clear and intuitive. It’s your first impression. At time of this post going to press (see what I did there?), I’m planning a future blog post all about the importance and/or myth of ‘the fold’ – come back and check it out.
Though you’re probably screaming internally that I’m telling you to make your site look like everyone else’s, the truth is that making a user’s visit to your site intuitive and pain-free is the name of the game. No one should ever have to go searching through pages, guessing which navigation link to press or using /shudder/ the search bar for basic information such as your new vegan café’s address.
This is your time to stay inside the box.
You’re unique and brilliant and so is your businesses, but switching up basic website design and layout conventions is not for you. A frustrated user does not become a customer. Period. Let them feel comfortable and at home on your site. Stick to what they know.
Squarespace helps in this regard because basic conventions are built in automatically such as having your navigation menu clearly displayed at the top of all pages and a logo that links back to your home page when clicked. <<< You might never have noticed you do this one, but admit it, you just instinctively know how to get home on any site – just click the logo!
This isn’t the place to push the boat out and show how crazy and unique you are: that’s for people who think its ok to mix pineapple and pizza (sorry), or whoever the Dark Lord commanded to design Windows 10. You know how you pick up a TV remote and the red button at the top is always ‘on’? Imagine if that button changed the channel or controlled the volume and the ones further down with arrows on turned it on and off. You’d be confused, frustrated and totally annoyed with that TV company. Don’t be that TV company.
Give the people what they came for.
I'll be posting Part Two as a follow-up in the coming weeks. If you'd like to be notified of new blog posts, product and service launches and subscriber offers you can sign-up using the form below.