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Design Features of Successful Websites

Though designing a good website takes work, it does not take a lot of training to know what is needed and to use that information effectively. In fact we all know sites we like better than others. Try and pay a bit more attention so you can explain why. That will automatically teach you the design features to use or not to use on a site. This article briefly reviews what is needed to get started. Otherwise, much has been written about this topic in both electronic and print formats.

A website is just an integrated set of effective web pages. For a page to be effective it needs two things. Pages need to be well designed and professional-looking so they are respectable and attract and maintain attention. Pages also need to easily execute any tasks or interactive features on the page.

Designing attractive pages

  • Color Scheme
    • Use colors that represent you or your business as much as possible.
    • Try to limit the number of colors that you use to about three main ones. Use them in the proportions so it is clear which are the primary, secondary and accent colors.
    • Select colors that look attractive together.
    • Limit the amount of color used on a site.
    • Use “non-colors” such as shades of whites, blacks, grays and possibly browns to fill most of the page.
  • Text and Fonts
    • Select fonts that are easy to read. San serif fonts are the most common recommendations for online text. Save fancy fonts for titles and headings.
    • Make text size and spacing easy to read.
    • Be sure the font color and background contrast sufficiently to make the text stand out.
  • Images
    • Images are important for making pages attractive, but only usse images that are directly relevant to the information on a page.
    • Don’t use too many images on a page. Use a rule of thumb of no more than 2 to 3 images per page unless the purpose of the page is to show images.
    • Be sure the images are high quality
  • “White” Space
    • Space helps readers find things just as much as content does. So consider space to be of equal importance to content.
    • Use space to bring relief to the impact of images and text.
    • Consider organizing textual content into sections with space in between to allow readers to easily see where information begins and ends.
  • Overall
    • Keep designs simple on a page.
    • Consider adding more pages to add more information rather than trying to cram it all into the same page.

Designing relevant content

  • Relevance
    • Individuals who look at your site are primarily there for 4 reasons.
      1. They are looking for information
      2. They want or need to make a transaction (purchase something or make a payment / donation)
      3. They are interested in being entertained
      4. They want / need to be part of a community
    • So be sure each page on your site satisfies at least one of these reasons. If not, consider leaving the page out of your website.
    • Be sure information on a page is well written and helpful.
    • Writing directly to the reader by using “you” helps information seem relevant.
  • Accuracy
    • Verify that information on your site is correct.
    • If information is about you company, keep it up to date.
    • If information is from other sources, verify that is faithful to the original information.
  • Length
    • Most users don’t want to spend much time reading. Keep text compact.
    • Break information into short paragraphs
    • User shorter sentences than you might use for other writing.
    • Use lists or other devices to break up information so it can be grasped quickly.

Designing user-friendly interfaces

  • Usability
    • Make sure pages are easy to use, understand and navigate.
    • Consider the needs of users who will be on your page and then design your pages for them.
  • Loading Speed
    • Be sure your pages load as fast as possible.
    • Have your site hosted on as fast a server as you can afford.
    • Limit the use of unusual fonts, many images or videos, complex features or lots of data on pages. They may slow down how long it takes for a page to load.
    • Use caching wherever possible to increase loading speed.
  • Simplicity
    • Simple features mean that a user can quickly understand how a page works so they are more likely to use it.
    • Only offer choices where they are relevant.
    • Limit the number of layers in choices.
  • Navigation
    • Design your menu so it can be easily found and used.
    • Make buttons or hyperlinks available throughout your pages to take users to other parts of your site.
    • Try to reduce the number of clicks required to go to places on your site to as few as possible.
  • Functional Features
    • Use customized features that help users find information they are looking for and move through your site quickly.
    • Use buttons, radio buttons, checkboxes, drop downs and other standard webpage components to help users manage your site for their needs.
    • Make sure these features work as expected. Check them periodically.

Making your site "visible"

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
    • Help your site to rank highly on searches so you site can be found more often. Follow the recommendations of your developer to optimize the probability your pages will be at the top of the list.
    • Write unique and original content. Do not plagiarize.
    • Use keywords several times in your content.
    • Be sure any links on your pages are working as expected.

Attention to these features when designing a website greatly improve the chances that the site will attract and retain visitors and then, depending on the nature of the site, convert them to paying customers. Website developers should be able to help you with all of these ideas.

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