"Everything is designed. Few things are designed well." said Brian Reed, a well-known front-end developer. Nowadays, even a 5-year-old can design you a website on any of the do-it-yourself website platforms, but it probably won’t be designed to the level you need.
There is no doubt that some websites are designed better than others. Take this one:
This is a real, live-as-I-write-this, website. It’s difficult to imagine what was going on in the head of the person who designed it. Needless to say, I’m not going to recommend you try to emulate it.
It’s hard to say what makes a design 'good', since design is subjective. In the world of websites, it’s better to stick to measurable and objective metrics. Does your website encourage people to stay on the page, or leave right away? Do people want to explore what your site has to offer?
Of course, the issue here is that there is more than just the design factor at play. Did the site load quickly? Is the content well-written? Is your site easy to navigate?
While you can’t please all of the people all of the time, when it comes to design, there are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t end up with something that actually turns people away.
Poor colour choice and no whitespace.
Depending on your brand design, your website design may lend itself well to blocks of colour and / or whitespace. Picking colours that don’t play well with each other means a clashing effect, while not enough whitespace makes things feel crowded. Like them or hate them, Google uses whitespace well.
Again, this is often guided by brand considerations, but a poorly designed site will very often go wild with fonts. We’ve all been there, faced with that massive list of fonts that appears in modern software packages. Like a kid at Christmas, we pick the first one that takes our fancy, then change font again a few paragraphs down for a new heading. It leads to a confusing mess of fonts that is downright difficult to read.
Making things hard to find
Ever wondered why most websites put menus on the top right? Or why they have a single, simple call to action front and centre? Or how come they have social buttons and a clear 'contact us' in the footer? These are the places that people expect to find these items and putting them somewhere else only makes them harder to find. Guess what happens when visitors can’t find something? Yep, they go and look elsewhere for somewhere to spend their money.
No support for mobile
Your site might look like the freshest thing to hit the internet, but if it looks horrid on mobile, you’ve got big problems. Mobile has now taken over from desktop as the most commonly used device to access websites. If you’re throwing away over 50% of traffic to your site because of poor mobile support, then it’s hard to see you getting massive value from your website.
Poor image management
Images are great, as the old cliche goes, they tell a thousand words, so they impart powerful messages quickly. However, poorly selected, generic images that are at odds with your message won’t do this, they’ll just alienate your visitors. Likewise, if you use too many or make them too big or small, they will lose some of their power to engage the viewer. Good website design uses the right images and in the right place and format.
Website design and development is not a simple matter of a few clicks, despite what some website builder platforms would have you believe. During my time as a freelance website developer in Bristol, I’ve been involved in creating some fantastic websites, and if I can help you in any way, I’d be delighted if you got in touch.