This blog often deals with many new technologies and ideas circulating in the web design industry. But sometimes, we like to remind our readers of some more traditional points. Web design, at its core, hasn't changed much in the last ten years. While the technology has certainly progressed, the key components of a ten year old site are still just as relevant today. If you're looking to design a site from scratch, or redesign an existing one, you are going to want to adhere to these main ideas.
Content: Remember the last good book you read. Why did you enjoy it so much? Its content was engaging and compelling. You cared about what you were reading and it didn't feel like any words were wasted. Now think of the last bad book you've read. Chances are, it was overly wordy. Whole chapters were unnecessary. Websites and books are very similar entities. Any novel gets good reviews because of its story, because of its content- not its cover or sturdy spine. While a book does need a good jacket and decent font, its most vital quality is its words. The same applies to your website. When your site is built, look at every individual page. If a paragraph or a page seems useless, get rid of it! It'll improve the overall quality of your site, which will in turn draw more traffic.
Stay Focused: If you think your website can benefit from some flashy animation, sounds, or video, be very careful! It's incredibly easy to mess up an interactive site. When it's rarely done right, it does look good. But we've seen way too many sites fall victim to distracting motion and other "exciting" flash animation elements. If you're new to the web design game, its best to stay away from these elements. Remember, a user can be easily overwhelmed by overly complicated webpages. But no one ever leaves a site's homepage in disgust because things weren't moving or flashing enough.
Don't Weigh Down Your Site: Large images and videos, gratuitous text, and animated files are all big files. The bigger the files, the longer your site takes to load. While many of today's internet users have great connections that can handle just about anything that's thrown at them, there's still a big demographic of users with very poor connections. Try to keep your site's load times down, which will ensure a smaller viewer bounce rate.
Keep It Easy To Read: Don't make your website look like a poorly contracted high school kid's power point presentation. Blue font on black background is so frustratingly hard to read that no visitor is going to return to a site that has it. You may have the urge to give your site its own flavor, and we do encourage that. Uniqueness is a powerful feature for a website. But, don't fell like black text on a white background is too simple. When it comes to websites, there's no such thing as too simple.
Navigation Is Important: Any good site needs to be easy to traverse. Page tabs should be listed clearly at the top or side of a page, and there should be multiple ways to return to the home page. A site map can't hurt either. Navigating a website should be easy, not a chore.
Learn From The Pros: If you're curious on how to construct a great site, don't be afraid to visit some popular ones to learn from best. The best sites are easy to understand, navigate, and find. Take pointers from these megasites, as they've been in the business for a very long time.
Your site may only have five pages, but if you follow the rules above, it'll be better than half the stuff out on the web now. That's a great starting point for a new site, and there's always time in the future to personalize your site and give it its own personality. And remember, design choices for your site ultimately go to you, the paying customer, not the web developer. You wield more power than you realize; utilize it correctly!