Designers are unique individuals. Although every designer will have their own unique plan to building and designing websites, they share a common checklist. There are basic elements that a website should have in order to be effective.
Where to begin
While visual design is important for a website, the utility and usability of a website are what make it a failure or a success. The users of the website decide whether the website is a success or failure. The design should therefore be centered on the users. After all, if a feature can’t be used by the users, then it is useless and your website would be better off without it.
In order to avoid usability nightmares, you should begin by considering how users think. Remember that online users are not much different from customers in a store. They often glance at the content on the page, scan the text and then click on the aspects that happen to catch their interest. This is quite similar to customers rambling through a store. With this mindset, you can ensure that your website is effective.
Design elements of an effective website
The following are key elements for professional web design.
- Keep it simple
Every website requires navigation. However, not all navigation is good. In fact, simple navigation is better than that which is complex.
It is important that users are able to easily identify and use the navigation on your website. Making users think too much will overwhelm them. Since usability is our guiding principle, then for better usability, web pages should be self-explanatory and obvious.
Simple navigation should set the foundation for building the website. The architecture of the website should be intuitive. Clear structure, links that are easily recognizable and moderate visual clues will help users find what they are looking for easily.
- White space
Space is vital for web design. It dictates the flow and readability of the web page. Spaces allow you to create focal points. Texts or images surrounded by white spaces stand out more than those in crammed locations.
White space is not necessarily white in color. It may consist of the background color of the website or texture selected for the background.
Ensure elements on pages have white spaces between them. Consider elements such as buttons and navigation menus. This will help them stand out more.
- Search functionality
This is an important element especially for repeat users. Users may be interested in older information that may be in your archives. Search functionality makes it easier for users to dig up information on topics that interest them.
When including a search box, ensure that it is unobtrusive. Use the standard magnifying glass which is easily recognizable to users all over the internet. Ensure that the search box is placed at the top right hand corner of the website as this is where most users expect it to be.
- Clear call-to-action
In most cases, websites are a means to a specific action e.g. a sale, information provision or gathering contact information. To ensure that the users fulfill this action, it is important to include a call to action.
Call to action should be obvious. It should be placed in parts of the page that are highly visible. Contrasting colors ought to be used and the words should say exactly what the user should do.
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