Website design is a very important element of running an online business or a blog. Even if you’re not a designer you still need to be familiar with some of the principles and best practices in this field. Without this kind of knowledge you won’t be able to pick a good theme or know whether or not your contractor did a good job.
This is a guest post by Kate from mbaonline.
Although content is supreme and colors and graphics are definitely important, the layout of your website is a crucial part of getting hits. The layout of a website, more than anything else, determines the user-friendliness of the experience. No matter how powerful or life-changing the content of your website may be, if the layout is not inspirational as well, your readers will be turned off and may go elsewhere to have their lives changed.
What constitutes a good layout as far as a web page is concerned? Although there are many parts to a brilliant layout, all well-designed websites, without fail, make the reader feel welcome, invited, and comfortable. Good layouts are usually organized well and allow the content to be easily accessed and read with little eye strain.
Besides the bread and butter of organization and accessibility, great layouts usually distinguish themselves in some way from all the other websites out there. They may offer a completely new idea or simply a new twist on an old one. They may follow a well-loved web trend while adding their unique flavor to it, or they may attempt to start an entirely new one.
In the vast majority of occasions, the less cluttered the design of your web page, the better. Especially when it comes to the home page, cluttering it up with too many cool ideas can actually detract from its value. Of course, if the theme of your website has something to do with clutter, overflow, confusion, or a related topic, you may want to pile up the clutter in heaps just to illustrate your point.
More often than not though, a cluttered website will alienate its viewers and create a barrier in their minds that will make them shy away from coming back. Visitors who leave a site confused and perplexed have a very low return rate. Make sure your site has a very obvious purpose, one that is easy to grasp for both the casual passerby and the hardcore fan.
You can usually accomplish this by building your home page around one main idea. This can mean one main, carefully-selected font that both says and embodies exactly who you are, or it can mean one giant, memorable image that encapsulates your site’s purposes within its lines.
It can also mean one novel idea that is crafted with a number of techniques. It may take a few grainy images or decorative fonts to make your site look like a newspaper from the 1800’s, but visitors will have that one novel idea emblazoned in their minds and will keep coming back for more.
Great web layouts contribute to the communication value of the web page or site. Just like great content communicates a novel idea to the reader, great web layout contributes to that communication, turning out to be, in the end, more than just a pretty face. While you may be able to get by with just a pretty, organized layout for your site, what will really set it apart and make it unforgettable is a layout and design that says something.
Make sure your site is easy to use – links should be highly visible, content should be easily accessible, and there should always be a way to get back to the home page. Try to make your site so simple that a child could find his way around it. The easier your site is to navigate and the more accessible your content is, the more likely your visitors will be to return.
Here are 20 great examples of inspirational websites that use their brilliant design to help them get web hits.
Although there are definite guidelines about what looks good on a website and what doesn’t, no specific rule is unbreakable. Some techniques that would be expressly forbidden in most circumstances have worked in certain occasions, gleaning hundreds of thousands of hits and causing a maelstrom of success.
It’s good to be familiar with the guidelines, tips, and rules stated above, even if you plan on breaking them. If you do decide to take a swing at a new idea that is contrary to everything you are learning about design, be sure that there is a definite purpose to your actions then go for it, and you might just make history.
About the author: Kate Manning didn’t expect to find herself at the intersection of business, marketing, and the Internet, but with sound writing and editing skills, she makes the most of it with http://www.mbaonline.com/.