How to Create Good Web Design
There are many different types of web design, from those built using website templates and ‘build your own’ site building applications to complex content managed and e-commerce web designs such as those used by big brand names like Amazon, eBay, and Tesco. Some companies, even some big-name companies, have unprofessional looking and badly designed websites. Some have amazing looking websites but because of their high graphical content and minimal text content can take an age to load, are not user friendly, and do not provide what the visitor wants.
Good Website Design
Though many aspects of website design differ from site to site, many things remain the same throughout the majority of websites on the internet. Most notably is the navigation or menu. The way in which a website’s menu works and looks is very important, as ultimately, visitors to a website are looking for certain criteria that will make them either stay and interact or leave. This ability for a website to keep visitors interested is sometimes referred to as stickiness. Visitors want an attractive visually exciting experience, but perhaps more importantly, they want ‘ease of use’. Website usability is a key factor for websites that want their visitors to stick around, make an inquiry, and ultimately complete a transaction and order a product or service.
Easy to Use Web Design
Internet users tend to prefer easy to use websites because they do not want to have to learn how to use a website every time they find a new one. They should be able to use a website after only a few seconds of looking around a homepage, and they will leave and browse elsewhere. The need for fast user interaction is vital and therefore having a fast loading website is also important for a website to succeed. Even with faster internet connections such as broadband, internet users don’t want to wait around.
Just imagine, if you go to a shop on the high street and are totally ignored by shop assistants at the counter for 5 minutes, even after you have made it clear you want help. There is a correlation here to how an internet user may feel when they arrive at a website that has been poorly designed, is difficult to use, unfriendly, and slow to load. Making sure that a website has been well thought out and designed with the user in mind, displays a company’s unique selling points within easily recognizable eye catching calls for action, and has a clear, easy to use menu is key to its success.
Flash Web Design
With recent web design advancements, such as the introduction of Flash animation and high definition video content, impressive websites have been produced to take advantage of much higher levels of visual effects and interaction. However with this ‘high end’ web design, comes a price, more often than not, web designs that rely heavily upon Flash content are often ridiculously slow to load. They often have a progress bar, which slowly goes across the web browser to signify when the website will finish loading.
This is much like the progress bars that you may be familiar with if you use video editing or 3D rendering software, or if you use games consoles where they are displayed whilst you wait for games to load. Internet users on the whole do not want to wait 3 – 5 minutes for a web page to load even if it does feature high-resolution images, animation, or video. They want fast informative content-rich websites. If they wanted to watch an animation or video they would watch TV.
Good Flash Web Design
This is not to say that Flash animation is all bad news and shouldn’t be used in web design. If used subtly and in small amounts, it can make a website more visually appealing without slowing the load time down too much. Suitable uses for Flash animation in web design are things such as; Flash banner advertisements, Flash video, and interactive Flash forms for online questionnaires or business presentations.
Using Flash for a whole website design, however, is not such a good idea. It slows the user’s experience down because they have to wait for elements of it to load. Also, sites totally developed in Flash tend to use unfamiliar menu structures and features. This can confuse visitors who just want to quickly interact with the website and not be amazed by the way the menu animates. Just because you can do these things in Flash, it doesn’t mean they have any real working value in the real world. They may look pretty, but if they are not functional and only irritate the visitor then they have no real value.
Flash Web Design & SEO
Another argument against using Flash to create a whole website is that it dramatically reduces the effectiveness of your websites’ Search Engine Optimisation. Flash web designs are made up of one main file within a web page which search engines find difficult to index. This is because the text within them is usually graphical text and therefore is not usually accessible by search engines. Some recent developments allow some text to be displayed for search engines in Flash websites, but this is nowhere near as effective as text content within traditional HTML based websites.
Don’t Write Off Flash in Web Design
Although Flash does have its limitations it also has its good points if used correctly. For instance; Flash animation is usually smaller in file size than traditional gif animation and because of the way it is made the animation flows smoother than gif animation too. Having said this, I would recommend only using Flash in small areas within a site to compliment other imagery that makes up the overall design. Finding a balance between minimal graphical elements, imagery, Flash and good quality informative text is the key to a successful user-friendly website. This isn’t to say that web design needs to be boring. By working with quality web design companies there’s no reason why you couldn’t have a visually exciting, well-designed, easy to use, and successful website.
Visually Stimulating Web Design
When visitors first arrive at a website, they want to be impressed and engaged with what the website has to offer. This will be determined by the ways in which the web designer has laid out the website’s content text, images, and features. Arranging elements such as imagery, text, graphics, flash, and video in such a way as to keep the visitor interested in the website is the key to good web design. If a website has poor design and doesn’t grab the attention of the visitor in the first few seconds, then it may well be dismissed as just another average website. This ultimately means the visitor will go elsewhere to spend their time and, more importantly, money.
Good Web Design Layout
A lot of time and money is spent making sure that the right elements of websites are positioned in the right places. Companies spend large amounts of money conducting research into how internet users use their websites. This type of research shows where their visitors’ eyes concentrate the most, which elements of the website they click on first, and generally how they interact and use their websites. Most internet users will look primarily from the top left either across the page or down the left-hand side of the web page through an internet browser via a computer, mobile phone, or TV set.
I would hazard a guess, that they are looking for the company’s name or logo, their main selling points or slogans, and then what the website has to offer in terms of what is featured in the menu. After which their eyes are probably drawn across the page content and over to the right-hand side. Successful web design usually takes this into consideration and will ultimately affect the way a website looks.
There are of course rather famous exceptions to this rule, for instance, one rather well-known search engine has a web design that is quite different. The main focus and core functionality in their web design are located right in the center of the page. This, however, isn’t any ordinary website with tens or even hundreds of pages of products and services to display, its main focus is its recognizable logo and of course its search box. It does however feature a small minimal menu across the top of the web design, which flows from left to right.
So even they have taken on board some of the research undertaken into internet users’ habits. If you go looking at websites after reading this article, I can guarantee that most of the web designs you’ll see, will have a left-hand menu and a defined header bar with a company logo and slogan across it.
Importance of Website Maintenance
Website designing and development gives shape to the website, and to sustain and enhance that shape, website maintenance is required. It is not only sufficient to design a website, program it, and host it, but continued maintenance is crucial to keep the site updated, glitches free, and performing at its optimal level.
However, one should not mistake maintenance with redesigning the website. Website maintenance is more to do with on-going support to change content, images, or update information.
Additionally, the activities under site maintenance include fixing bugs; correcting broken links; wrongly spelled text; page titles; adding new web pages; checking whether all the programmed forms are working; and more. Without dedicated site maintenance support, the website can malfunction regularly, and it is credibility can be affected.
For example, transaction-oriented websites such as ticket booking sites have to perform accurately all the time, and without the support of the maintenance team, this is not possible.
Most of the big companies have their own in-house web maintenance team. However, for small and medium businesses (SMBs), it is not possible to afford a separate team and it also may divert their attention from the core business. For these businesses, it is a good idea to outsource their website maintenance task to companies that specialize only in such services.
Also, most of the web designing and development companies offer maintenance services too, and one can continue with them if the initial work has been satisfactory.
There are a number of companies that offer web maintenance services. However, one must evaluate these companies as incompetent maintenance can lead to multiple problems. A regular chain of communication should be opened when one sign-ups with a website maintenance service.
It is not only enough that the hired team is monitoring and maintaining the website, but the website owner should also check if the work is being done properly or not.
5 Important Rules in Website Design
When it comes to your website, extra attention should be paid to every minute detail to make sure it performs optimally to serve its purpose. Here are seven important rules of thumb to observe to make sure your website performs well.
1) Do not use splash pages
Splash pages are the first pages you see when you arrive at a website. They normally have a very beautiful image with words like “welcome” or “click here to enter”. In fact, they are just that — pretty vases with no real purpose. Do not let your visitors have a reason to click on the “back” button! Give them the value of your site upfront without the splash page.
2) Do not use excessive banner advertisements
Even the least net savvy people have trained themselves to ignore banner advertisements so you will be wasting valuable website real estate. Instead, provide more valuable content and weave relevant affiliate links into your content, and let your visitors feel that they want to buy instead of being pushed to buy.
3) Have a simple and clear navigation
You have to provide a simple and very straightforward navigation menu so that even a young child will know how to use it. Stay away from complicated Flash based menus or multi-tiered dropdown menus. If your visitors don’t know how to navigate, they will leave your site.
4) Have a clear indication of where the user is
When visitors are deeply engrossed in browsing your site, you will want to make sure they know which part of the site they are in at that moment. That way, they will be able to browse relevant information or navigate to any section of the site easily. Don’t confuse your visitors because confusion means “abandon ship”!
5) Avoid using audio on your site
If your visitor is going to stay a long time at your site, reading your content, you will want to make sure they’re not annoyed by some audio looping on and on your website. If you insist on adding audio, make sure they have some control over it — volume or muting controls would work fine.