This article was originally published in 2011 and has since been one of our most popular articles. The web, however, has changed considerably over the last 2 years, so we have decided to update our guidelines to better reflect the internet in its current form.
Our top 10 rules for best practice web design now take into account the massive upsurge in mobile traffic, along with changes in the search engine industry from the last 2 years.
Create a website that impresses both your target market and Google
Your website, if designed and managed correctly, can be the most cost-effective salesman you ever employ, working 24/7 to bring you more business. In modern marketing, a good website needs to appeal to two key audiences:
- Your target market
- Search engines such as Google
Best practice web design requires you to strike a balance between technical and SEO functionality, design aesthetics, navigation and layout.
Our *Updated* Top 10 Techniques for Ensuring the Best Practice Website Design
#1: Design for Different Screen Widths
We now live in a world where websites are being accessed via a wide range of different devices. As of April 2013, on average, over 23% of website visits came from either a tablet or a mobile. That’s almost 1 in 4 of your visitors. If you are not providing a separate experience for mobile and tablet users, you could risk losing business. Ideally your website should automatically resize to allow for different screen widths, or you should provide a different version of the website to allow for different devices.
#2: Design for Different Browsers
Make web-pages for multiple web and mobile browsers – Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera etc. so that pages display without any viewing problems. Browsers are becoming increasingly ‘standards compliant’ so this issue will become less relevant, but it is still an important thing to remember.
#3: Keep it Simple
When someone goes to your website, they want to know 2 major things:
- Can your website help me?
- Where should I click next?
Make it obvious what you do and avoid confusing your visitors with too many ‘options’. Only add in features that contribute to the visitor doing what you want them to do.
Remember to utilise white space – this makes for a visually appealing website and makes whatever you are saying easier to read. Don’t feel the need to use every centimetre of every web page.
#4: Keep it Consistent
Consistency in design is very important. If every page on your website uses a different template, different colours, different navigation, different fonts etc., you will confuse your visitors and they will probably leave. Pick a style and then stick to it across all pages.
#5: Guide Your Visitors
Understand your target markets’ behaviour by defining paths of interaction, then set clear calls-to-action which are ultimately what converts a visitor into a sales lead. Take a look at your website. Is it obvious what the visitor should do next?
#6: Use Static HTML with Semantic Code
Label everything within your source code accordingly – Titles, H1s, H2s etc. Semantic code assists search engine optimisation (SEO) as it’s faster for crawlers to index the site, it’s also faster for browsers to display your web pages and it allows for easier editing. Avoid using technologies such as Flash – it is often hard to edit and hard for search engines to crawl.
#7: Use Google Analytics
When it comes to evaluating browsers, screen resolution, connection speed and buyer behaviour of your target market, nothing else gives you an insight into best practice web design like Google Analytics. It’s free to use and the data will influence design for the better.
#8: Update Regularly
Regularly updated content isn’t just great for search engines; it is great for users too. By regularly publishing new, unique, helpful information about your industry, your services, or your products, you will keep people coming back for more.
#9: Monitor for Errors
Proofread for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in content and routinely check your website through Google Webmaster Tools to ensure long-term site integrity.
#10: Consider Legal Issues
With scraping and duplication rife on the web, it’s important to protect your asset. Include relevant and up-to-date privacy, copyright and legal disclaimers where necessary across the site. If operating in international markets ensure you are compliant with local laws.
Bonus Point! #11: Keep Testing
One of the most common mistakes people make with their website is that they set it up and then forget about it. Your website is often the first impression someone will get about your business. Keep trying out different calls-to-action, marketing messages and special offers etc. to ensure you really get the most out of your website.
Amateur Web Design Means Amateur Results – Get More Leads with roi.com.au Website Design
At roi.com.au our team of skilled web designers has proven ability in creating quality websites, mobile websites and landing pages. All roi.com.au web design products are crafted with customer conversions in mind, drawing on a vast pool of SEO and pay-per-click knowledge to create the best websites for sustainable and comprehensive marketing strategies. See how we’ve helped businesses across Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and Adelaide with our SEO services tailored to Australian businesses.
Have some more tips you want to share with us? Let us know in the comments below.