Over the past few years, web design and related technology has arguably redefined the way people communicate, buy and sell goods and services, socialize, as well as consume information. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 2.7 billion people, which representing 39% of the world’s population, use the Internet. In addition, fixed-broadband prices have dropped by as much as 82% between 2008 and 2012. This has made it easy for a large number of people to access the internet and businesses are busy designing and putting up websites to reach them.
Traditionally, putting up a website guaranteed a business steady traffic. However, this is not the case anymore as businesses use all manner of techniques to ensure their websites rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs). One way of ensuring your business’s website stands out is by sticking to web design best practices. This includes:
Usability and Accessibility
This is a vital aspect of web design mainly because many Internet users do not have the patience to figure out how to navigate around a website. This means that navigating around your website should be easy even for someone who has never visited before. To achieve this goal, the rule of thumb is to use navigation aids such as site map, search bar, breadcrumb, and skip navigation link. If you use images as a navigation aid, make sure you add text links in the footer section of that particular webpage. Additionally, remember to add captions for each video or audio file you use on your website. If you use color to highlight a particular piece of text, ensure that is has sufficient contrast with background color. Make sure all internal and external hyperlinks work. Web users are likely to head elsewhere is they keep encountering broken links all the time. If you fail on the accessibility and usability front, traffic to your site will trickle down to a few visitors every day.
Web design also involves testing your site on all the popular web browsers such as Internet Explorer (IE), Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. The aim is to make the browsing experience of web users as smooth and enjoyable as possible. In addition to desktop-based browsers, you should also consider your websites compatibility with mobile device browsers. Take note that this can be challenging because the number of browsers used by mobile device owners is considerably higher. Use an HTML validator to ensure your website renders properly on all browsers and devices.
Videos, photos, graphs, and infographics can enhance your site’s stickiness factor. Research carried out by Nielsen found that online consumers tend to pay close attention to images. In addition, figures published by Forbes magazine show that 60% of web users prefer video content to text. As a result, businesses that use video content benefit from conversion rates as high as 65 % according to a study carried out by iYogi Insights. However, this does not mean that you can use any image or video and expect traffic to your site to increase automatically. A study published by the technology website Mashable found that stock photographs put off web users.
When it comes to web development best practices, the layout of your site’s pages is an important factor. You must ensure that you use color, graphics, page alignment, and white space to evoke interest from site visitors. In fact, a study carried out by a researcher from the Simon Fraser University found that the majority of web users require only 50 milliseconds to decide whether a web page is appealing or not.
To ensure site visitors do not leave in a huff, make sure the header and navigation bar of your site’s homepage occupy anywhere from a quarter to a third of browser space at a resolution of 1024×768. The rest of the space should consist of carefully laid out graphics, text, and white space. Remember to have good contrast between text and background color. You do not want site visitors to squint in order to read content on your site.
Page Load Times
Figures published by the ITU show that at least 700 million households have access to fixed broadband connection. This means that a website’s pages should load within a relatively short time preferably in less than five seconds (Website Speed Test – Click HERE). On dial up connections, your website should not take more than 10 seconds to load. However, some poorly designed sites take long to load leading to waves of abandonment as web users head elsewhere. Statistics published by the Consumer Response to Travel Site Performance show that 57% of web users are likely to abandon a site if takes more than three seconds to load.
Most web users visit websites for two reasons:
- to carry out information research or to engage in a specific action, for example, buy a product, service, read news, socialize, or watch video content.
- In addition, search engines use complex algorithms to index content on websites in order to provide web users with accurate and reliable information. This means that you cannot afford to ignore content presentation when carrying out web design.
On the font front, it is best to stick to common and popular text fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial. There is no need to reinvent the wheel if it works. Furthermore, make sure site visitors can easily find content such as blog posts, press releases, and articles. It is advisable to provide useful, unique, and informative content. You can also include hyperlinks into your text so long as you link to other websites that provide quality content. Remember the quality of incoming and outgoing links plays a big role in determining your site’s search engine results pages ranking.
After the web development phase is over, you need to carry out extensive and thorough testing. Invite real people such as your friends or family members to visit your site. Use the feedback they give you to fine tune and iron out any problems or issues that might make visitors leave.