As a Melbourne digital marketing agency, we've seen our fair share of poorly designed websites. With our web design services, our #1 goal is always to ensure that our clients' websites are highly usable and encourage visitors to click through and make contact, rather than bounce.
Here are our Top 5 web design best practices that we always follow, and highly recommend that others take to heart when building websites as well:
Make It Obvious What Your Site Is About
As soon as someone clicks onto your site, they should be able to glean exactly what it is that your website is about. Every extra second you make them spend trying to figure it out is time they are increasingly likely to use to leave your site instead. Don't make them work for it - hand it to them straight away!
Keep Important Content Above The Fold
The term "above the fold" is web speak for the top part of the web page that is visible without having to scroll down. A lot of WordPress themes and website designs these days implement a large banner or scrolling slider at the top of the page, with the bulk of the content falling below the image. Sure, it might look cool if you have a snazzy photo sitting there, but it might be an annoyance to some site visitors who are just looking for information quickly. If all they see upon first glance is a non-descriptive photo, they might not know what your web page is about and may not stick around to find out.
Would you scroll down to read more?
There have been heated debates about whether people bother to scroll down past the banner image to read the entirety of a page. The verdict is still out, but why play with fire? We say it's better to be safe and ensure you have at least some copy above the fold. Even if it's just a header, as long as the header is descriptive enough to let visitors know what the page is about and hopefully inspire them to scroll down to read more.
Use Calls To Action
Sometimes people need a little encouragement. Your site visitors are no exception, so be sure to include subtle commands throughout your website for them to contact you. Buttons and links that read "contact us today" or "find out more" and click through to your contact page are very effective at turning casual visitors into leads or customers. You could also say "call us today at..." and include your business phone number right there so that they don't even need to click to find out how to contact you.
This site uses numerous "find out more" calls to action.
Make It Easy To Find Content
Usually when someone visits a website, it's because they're looking for something specific. And if they don't find it right away, there's a very good chance they'll leave and search elsewhere.
You don't want your site visitors to bounce, do you? Give them one less reason to by making it easy to find content within your site. Include a search bar near the top of the page that they can use to look for content (most WordPress themes include this, but you could also download a WordPress plugin). Categorise your blog posts and pages and implement a drop-down menu hierarchy at the top of your site that spells out the most important content on your site.
Equally as important as making content easy to find is making your contact information readily available. This is especially vital for businesses whose main goal is to convert site visitors into leads and customers. Consider including your email and/or phone number in the site header, sidebar, and/or footer. You should also have a dedicated Contact page that includes all your methods of contact (including social media handles), plus a location map. The easier it is for someone to get in touch with you, the more likely they will!
Use Headers and Subheaders on Each Page
Headers and subheaders should be used throughout each web page to keep your content organised and easy to follow. In HTML, headers are specified by h-tags: for example h1, h2, h3. The overall page name should be contained within h1 tags, your major page sections should be within h2 tags, and so on, with h1 tags being the largest in size and each subheader slightly smaller than the one above it.
There are two big reasons why you should utilise headers on all of your website's pages:
- It makes it easier to read through the page. Headers and subheaders break the page content down into digestible sections, which is better for readability and allows those who can't be bothered reading the entire page to still gain something from your content.
- It's better for SEO. Using header tags (that preferably include your keyword phrases) helps Google get a grip on what your website is about, which in turn contributes to your search rankings.