When you walk into a store, what do you see? Aisles full of products, each one different than the next. Is there a visual hierarchy in place that makes it easy for you to find what you're looking for? Are there helpful signs directing you where to go next? Do they help you understand the difference between similar items? How does all this information fit together? It's a lot to take in at once. As web designers we know how important good design can be, especially when it comes to navigating websites.
The same principles apply to creating a beautiful website. Take time to lay out your pages in an organized fashion. Use visual cues to guide visitors through your site and keep them on track. This will make their experience much more enjoyable. The following tips should get you started on the right track.
1) Keep your homepage simple and clean. This is the first page people see so give it extra attention. You want to grab their attention quickly. If you have too many elements on the homepage, it will be difficult for them to focus on any one item. Make sure everything has its own distinct role. For example, if you have a blog or newsletter sign up form on the homepage, put it toward the bottom. People aren't going to stop scrolling down to find out about your product or service just because they need to fill out an online form. Make sure that important information is located near the top of your webpage.
2) Don't overwhelm your visitors with too much text. Let your website speak for itself. Avoid using long paragraphs of text that are hard for them to read. If you must provide a bit more information, break it up so it doesn't look like a wall of text. Use bullets and lists to help readers quickly scan your articles and get a feel for the overall layout of your page. Keep it short but informative.
3) Create a clear visual hierarchy on your homepage. Make the most important information stand out. This means putting the most important links, buttons, and graphics at the top of the page. Make sure everything else follows in order from left to right, starting with less essential parts of your website. This helps users easily identify where they are on your site.
4) Include navigational tools and directions throughout your website. Make sure that your navigation bar is visible on every page. That way, people who don't use Internet Explorer can still access everything on your site. When people don't have enough information or directions, they may decide to leave your site altogether. Including arrows pointing to other sections of your website are also helpful for those not familiar with your site.
5) Make sure your site is easy to navigate. This goes hand-in-hand with having clear directions on your home page. Remember, you only have one chance to convince someone to stay on your site. If they have trouble finding what they want, they'll likely lose interest before they even finish reading your content. Give yourself plenty of room to create a visually appealing menu system. Your menu should include all of the main categories and subcategories as well as links to frequently visited pages. Make sure that your links are large and bold, so they stand out against the rest of your website.
6) Ensure your website is mobile friendly. Your customers won't be able to enjoy your site on their smartphones and tablets if it isn't optimized for smaller screens. Make sure your site looks good on these devices by including additional features such as larger font sizes and more white space. If you're designing a mobile responsive website, consider adding a "m" tag to your URL so that it reads differently on mobile devices. Your website will load faster for mobile users and your search engine rankings will increase.
7) Stay true to your brand. It's tempting to add unnecessary bells and whistles to build your website. However, remember that your primary goal is to attract new customers. Adding too many features can turn off potential customers or confuse them. Make sure that you clearly communicate the benefits of your company without making your site overwhelming. Keep things uncluttered and simple. You want to show your customers that you value their time and attention, not spend it scrolling through a cluttered site.
These seven tips will help you organize your website and ensure that it appeals to both new and returning visitors. Once you've taken the time to implement some of these changes, you'll notice a major improvement in your website's performance. Not only will it be easier for you to reach your target audience, it will also be much easier for your customers to locate specific information on your site.
For more great tips on web design check out our article, 7 Ways To Improve Web Design With These Simple Ideas.