An awesome design is essential to a respectable website. You can easily do this yourself by customizing a theme, finding one already designed or even by hiring a professional web designer.
But 99% of people screw up their design!
How? Well what makes a good design? After all, you want to make sure that if you’re putting all your time and effort into creating this ultimate online resource then you want to get it right. You may think you need:
- Graphics that catch your eye and make you think ‘Wow, golly gosh!’
- Cool sliders and Animated Widgets
- Fancy & Expensive looking Features
- Unique & Creative Layout which immerses you into an ‘experience’ not just a website…
What’s Wrong with all of this? It’s too much!
But people everywhere are constantly packing these things into their layout.
This process is taking the purpose of their website and putting it behind the maze and visual mess all this crap creates. So here’s what you need to do for an awesome web design.
Get a small piece of paper.
1.Define the Purpose of Your Website
Yeah, your website needs purpose.
I’m not talking about saving an endangered species or curing world hunger, but there has to be defined goal. Some ideas might be:
- To gain email subscribers
- Make a Sale
- Motivate someone to contact you
- Get them to click on an Adsense Ad
- you get the idea
While I have listed a few above, you need to choose a top priority. For most marketers it’s the Email Subscribers, while people trying to make money with Adsense will want the clicks and so on..
So write it down – ‘the main purpose of my website is ____________’ .
Purpose and substance is important to a website’s design.
Remember, “design is about service, not pixels” – as put by Chase Reeves (Co-Founder of Fizzle.co).
2. Establish Who You Are
So what’s you theme or niche? Are you an individual or a business?
If you are presenting yourself or a business you need to determine how to best represent yourself and give the readers of your website the ability to figure it out in an instant.
This means simple but effective branding. A logo, a photo of yourself, and a certain visual style (colors, fonts, etc) that match what your website is about.
You get about 3 seconds to make an impression on new Website visitors, so make it count. – Tweet This Quote
Once you know your niche and who or what you are promoting, write it down next to your site’s purpose.
3. Figure Out What People Want
In most cases they’re looking for information to better their lives or a choice they’re trying to make – but not in every case.
Sometimes people surfing the internet are looking to be entertained (YouTube proves that one!), find a community to get some help (eg. forums), or a list of the top foods to lose weight – it could be just about anything!
The common theme is that people aren’t going online looking to fulfil your goals.
So you need to to figure out what people searching your niche are looking for. Then deliver.
But what does that have to do with design?
It’s the medium. What’s most important to a website layout is the medium being used. It could be written content, a forum, social network or something interactive. If so, you need to make sure your design supports this medium and makes it easy to access and use.
On your little piece of paper, write down what medium of content you’re putting into your website.
This is when you put those 3 things together…
Pick up that piece of paper, those 3 things you wrote down are the most important elements of your design – especially the content. Keep it handy for reference when designing.
The content of the website is delivered through a medium which the design must carry. You have to give people what they want, and leave them wanting more. Then offer them more in exchange for a call to action! The design makes all of this flow easily.
A good design makes it easy and natural for the reader to connect with the content quickly and easily.
The design’s secondary purpose is to help the person on your website identify who you are and then point them toward a clear call to action. This call to action usually involves offering more of that terrific information/content in exchange for you goal – eg, subscribe to the email list, buy a product or contact the website owner.
Ultimately, a good design is like good special effects in a movie – you don’t even notice it’s there.
So the secret formula behind an awesome design?
..to aid in identifying who you are and making delivery of content effortless, guiding the reader to a clear ‘call to action’.
A good website design doesn’t surround the content, it delivers it. Tweet This Quote
How do you make this happen?
Get rid of distractions. Don’t crowd your layout with images if they don’t serve a purpose. Get rid of the useless information and pretty, flashy widgets and animation. Clean graphics tend to be less distracting then eyesores.
I like how Derek Halpern of Social Triggers (who is a big influence on on this article) put it:
With widgets, plugins, social media profiles, and other junk like that, it’s easy to overload your website with a bunch of garbage you don’t need.
Remove the Barriers. Make sure your website loads quickly, your content is easy to find (starting above the fold in most cases) and can be read easily. If anything stands between the reader and this then remove it.
Aim for Simplicity. Get your brand colors and logo on the page somewhere, keep your navigation close to it and then a make way for the content. The call to action can be placed on a sidebar, below or above the post or even in a pop up lightbox (yeah I know, that’s technically distracting – but for a purpose).
Speaking of Purpose…
…I had one behind this post, to make a clear point about how to not screw up your website’s design.
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Thanks for reading!