Designing and maintaining a website on your own presents a bevy of challenges, from choosing a host to filling your new website with engaging content on a regular basis. While much of the content creation process should be left up to your own creative mind, there’s a great deal that can be said about how you visually shape the formless clay that is your pre-launch website.
While many website visitors (and website administrators, for that matter) take for granted the passive effects of a well-designed website, industry experts agree that a visually appealing website can most effectively communicate credibility and brand-based emotional appeals.
As such, prospective website designers should take some extra time to review these 5 tips for designing a website. Though you may not produce a masterpiece on your first try, this list of industry-inspired tips will start you on the path towards producing your most visually appealing website yet.
Tip #1: Create a Vision
In so many words, a “vision” is the summation of what future success looks like. For business owners, a vision might take the form of financial growth and community-driven engagement. For you, as a website designer, your vision should take the form of how you expect a successful iteration your website to perform and visually appear.
Before even sitting down at your computer to choose a website host, take some time alone or with your team to work out precisely what your vision for your website looks like. This stage of development should be broad and should be informed by audience-based outcomes. If possible, try to avoid over-generalizations such as “customers will buy products from our website.”
Some other concepts to consider are what kind of emotions and actions that you want your website’s visitors to feel and consequently undertake after arriving on your homepage. These factors can all inform specific details, such as color choice and page layout down the developmental road.
Tip #2: Select a Robust Web Host
An artist is only as good as their tools, whether they’re working on a physical or digital canvas. As such, you should ensure that you are working with the most versatile web design tools possible by selecting a versatile web host option.
Traditionally, the tools of the trade for website design have involved line after line of HTML or CSS code. While these digital languages can be harnessed for maximum customization, many personal and business-class website administrators prefer the drag-and-drop website builders that many web hosting providers offer.
In general, these web design platforms provide categorized design options through professionally-made templates. While this does cut down on your overall customization, you will find that these options are traded out in favor of imbued visual best practices, including contrast and spacing.
Tip #3: Choose an Effective Visual Identity
Visual identity is an old term that has taken on new meaning in the digital age. Visual identity runs the gambit from simple but pervasive factors such as font choice and color scheme to highly specific details such as logo placement and orientation. In any case, you’ll need an effective visual identity in order to be taken seriously by your website visitors.
Large-scale businesses and corporations often define their company-wide visual identity in a full-scale branding guide. You won’t need to go to such extreme; instead, you should begin by focusing on selecting a color scheme that contrasts well and communicates your personal or business attitudes. If you have a pre-existing logo, be sure that your color scheme matches or compliments the logo.
After you’ve selected your color scheme, you can move onto choosing a font set that is easy to read and easy to implement at several different sizes. Some of the aforementioned website design platforms streamline this process by suggesting color schemes to match your brand and auto-filling empty spaces to create contrast.
No matter how you go about defining your website’s visual identity, remember that consistency is key to keeping your website’s entire visual presence unified.
Tip #4: Keep It Simple, Keep It Focused
Though it often goes without saying, the simplest visual solution is often the most effective for meeting your website’s needs. Website visitors across the spectrum prefer visual simplicity, so the onus is on you to provide a visual experience that meets their expectations and allows them to easily navigate to their desired destination.
The exact nature of “simple” can vary from site to site based on its overarching purpose. For example, an online store should minimize the number of choices per page to maximize each individual product’s visual appeal. Websites of all types can also ditch tracking sidebars, as modern internet users are often distracted by these visually intrusive components.
Tip #5: Prototyping and Live Testing
While your vision may look perfect in your mind’s eye, the end result may be less than stellar. That’s okay because prototyping and live testing can provide you with insight into how to visually improve your website before any real customers see it.
If you’re designing a website on your own, consider asking friends or industry partners to visually inspect a private iteration of your website. If you’re working within a company setting, consider asking several colleagues to act as “test visitors” by providing their initial reactions. In either case, be sure to take note of actionable items from your testing feedback to further improve your website’s visual experience.
Designing Your Best Website Isn’t Easy
Altogether, there is a lot to know when it comes to visually designing a website. Like a full-blown artist, you need to sweat the minute details such as color scheme and font choice in order to turn out a visually appealing final product.
Each of these designing website tips should help to firmly establish a creative process for your upcoming website, from the first spark of creativity to the preliminary live tests. Remember that your website is your canvas, an opportunity to express fine-tuned messages through rich visual mediums. Be sure to maximize this opportunity as your visitors will surely see the difference.
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