More than half of the people on the planet have access to the World Wide Web, and with the internet being declared a basic human right, it is a fair guess that the other half of the globe is bound to catch up eventually.
As a result, seeing as we have a stage to address the entire world, it is more important than ever that we learn the best practices for web site design and development.
If you have or run a business, you want your website to tell your story in full. In fact, you need your website to be an extension of your brand, at which point how your website looks and feels matters just as much, if not more than how it functions.
So, How Should Your Website Look?
In order for your website to help with the branding of your business, there are a few basic principles you need to keep in the back of your head:
1. Simplicity is The Ultimate Sophistication
By opting for simplicity, not only will you make it easier for your visitors to remember your business and your brand, but you will also make it easier for them to perform the actions you want them to, whether that is to subscribe to your newsletter or buy something from your store.
2. Consistency is Key
Once you’ve settled on certain elements, such as the colors or fonts of your brand, you need to make sure you use those same elements throughout all of your branding, be it online or offline, and this uniformity will make your brand more memorable.
3. To Sell is Human, to Be Personal is Divine
In all your interactions with your audiences, strive to be personal and to stir the right emotions within them.
One way you could go about this is by showing the human side of your business, i.e. making your business seem more human.
For example, by showing images that portray your company’s culture, especially if you have a fun, vibrant culture, you could let people know what it is like to work for your company and what it takes to produce your kick-ass product or service.
4. Being Unique is Better Than Being Perfect
You want both your brand and your website to stand out from the competition. Also, you want your customers to remember you and to think of you whenever they want to make a purchase.
With all of that in mind, you are better off with a unique but imperfect website rather than a perfect but a derivative one.
How Should My Website Actually Look Like?
Having covered the basics, we can now move on to the nitty-gritty details of web design.
Before deciding on the look of your website, you need to figure out the style that is most suited to your brand. This is purely a strategic question as you are trying to figure out what kind of style is congruent with what you are selling while also being unique and memorable.
Hence, you might opt for a clean, modern look, whereas another business might feel that an eclectic, creative style is more suited for their purposes.
And, what you will at some point notice is that each type of business lends itself more to a particular theme or style more than others.
For instance, if you were building a website for a fitness brand, the themes you’d use would be completely different than if you were building a website for a legal company.
Bearing this in mind, you will have a much easier time choosing the colors, fonts, logo, and images of your site.
Let’s take a look at each.
You want to choose colors that express your brand’s identity and send across its personality. Therefore, you want to take into account the psychology of color and think about how different colors elicit different emotions in people.
A case in point is how a color like red can get you feeling energetic and passionate, while a color like blue brings with it a sense of authority and intellectualism.
That said, try to refrain from putting every color in the rainbow in your website, instead, opt for two contrasting colors that work together well and that make your website an easy read.
Just as you did with your colors, you need to choose a font reflective of your brand’s personality.
This should make intuitive sense because fonts are also capable of sending emotions to your readers, and you need to figure out which font works best with the theme and colors you have chosen.
If you ask anyone on the street what the Olympics’ logo looks like, they’ll probably be able to describe five rings and their placement. However, if you ask those same people to tell you the colors of those rings, odds are they won’t be able to.
Similarly, even though your company’s colors will leave an emotional imprint on your customers, your logo is one of the few things they end up remembering. Therefore, you need to make it memorable and unique.
Also, you should decide on the size of your logo and be consistent throughout; otherwise, you risk confusing your customers.
It is important that you use lively images that convey emotions.
For example, you might want to upload an image of your team having fun in the “about us” page or a positive picture of one of your customers when talking about who you serve.
Show People Who You Are
Speaking of the “about us” page, you need to always make it easy for your audience to know who you are and what you do. You should invest in your “about us” page and make sure it answers all your audience’s questions.
Also, you can convey your brand’s personality through the voice of your copywriting and the tone used, which is something that should permeate all your interactions with your customers.
In fact, you can change the tone of your writing depending on the customer at hand.
Before you can figure out the layout of your website, know how people view websites in the first place.
Building off of that, you need to make your website easy to scan as nobody is willing to invest time in reading something unless they know that their time will be rewarded.
Also, to aid with the scanability of your site, make use of white space, a.k.a. negative space, and leave plenty of it.
And, What Happens After You’ve Made The Tough Choices?
Once you’re done coming up with a design, the only thing left for you is to actually build your website and start testing it with your customers.
Also, put down all the elements you’ve chosen, be it the colors, the font, or the logo, in a brand style guide, a document that will help direct the creative and marketing teams moving forward.
This will ensure their efforts remain consistent with the vision you place for them, regardless of whether these efforts are expended creating a Facebook page or sending out snail mail to potential clients.
About The Author:
Jen McKenzie is an independent business consultant from New York. She writes extensively on business, education and human resource topics. When Jennifer is not at her desk working, you can usually find her hiking or taking a road trip with her two dogs. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie