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January 25, 2013

Web Design Guidelines to Live (and Design) By

Author: Valerie Baker

We all know there are no “set” rules for designing a website. Like any other form of art (and advertisement), the design is completely subjective. However, there is one thing that ALL websites have in common: the need to get a certain message across. While the end action or conversion may be different (i.e. making a purchase vs. making a donation), each website is trying to relay a specific message to the visitor.

That being said, it’s important that your websites follow some basic guidelines to not only get the message across, but to help increase actions and conversions.

Guideline #1: Make your website easy to scan.

An easily scanned website is always good to have. When I visit the homepage, or any other page, I like to be able to scan it and get a quick overview of what I can find. I’d like to be able to scan the page in a few seconds and get a good idea of what’s there and then move on if it’s not what I’m looking for (which leads to me to Guideline #2).

Guideline #2: Make sure it’s easy to find stuff (organize things simply).

Make information on your website easy to find. Coming from the perspective of a typical website visitor, I can vouch for how frustrating it can be to search for something. If I’m not a brand-loyal customer, I will easily move onto the next website if I can’t find what I’m looking for within a minute or so. Too often designers (and their clients) want everything on the homepage. There’s just no way to manage this with growth and over time. Instead organize your content simply with sections, sub-sections, and pages, that make sense.

Users don’t mind moving from sections to pages, to find what they need as long as things are organized nicely.

Guideline #3: Make the website contents easy to share.

With the rise of social media, sharing has become easier than ever. If I see an article in an online newspaper, I have the option to share it with all my friends, relatives, etc. with a simple click. If your company relies heavily on word-of-mouth, having an easily shared content is a necessity (one quick suggestion I can make is to have all your social media accounts easily accessible from the homepage similar to this website).

Guideline #4: Make your company and staff easy to contact.

One purpose your website serves (among many others) is to be your constant online presence.  That being said, it’s very important that visitors are able to contact you. Whether it’s through listing a phone number, creating a contact form, or displaying an email address, it’s vital that visitors can connect with you.

It’s Simple – Make Things Simpler.

When you wrap your mind around the mind of your desired website visitor, designing a website becomes a bit simpler. That’s how we approach any design: with the end user in mind. What’s easiest and makes the most sense for this person is what we intend to implement – and that’s the very least you should expect from your web designer.

Valerie Baker

Valerie is the Senior Account Manager & Project Manager here at Atilus.

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