Top Tips For Designing A Website
Designing a website is a very opinion based process. What one person thinks looks great, another may not like so this can cause some problems when designing your website. With that said, there are some universal tips you should use when designing a website that will help with SEO, user satisfaction and conversions.
In this article, we will look at the top tips for designing a website and advise why these should be implemented on each and every website you design.
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Website speed should be your #1 priority
Speed is the most important aspect to consider when designing a website. Users will quickly close web pages that take too long to open and you will have lost that potential lead or sale. It does not matter if you have the best website, the best products and the cheapest prices if you have a very slow website as it is likely that visitors will leave your website before they get a chance to see it.
Although using good web hosting such as our NVMe Shared Hosting is a good start, there is much more to having a fast website than simply good hosting. Too many website owners add a template or theme, edit the information to meet their needs and then just leave it as is.
You should take great care with the optimisation of your website and there are many things you should do, free of charge to help speed up and optimise your website. We will go through these in detail below:
Using optimised and correctly sized images
One of the main contributors to a slow website is images and other media such as videos. The most common mistake people make when designing a website is to add images as they are and not to optimise these for the web page.
If you have a space on your web page for an image of 500×500 pixels, there is no need to upload an image of 2500×2500 pixels. The file size will be much larger, therefore it will take more time for the browser to download the image to show to your visitors.
In order to correctly optimise your images you should always:
- Use images that are sized correctly for where they will appear on your website. There are many free image resize tools available online to help you.
- Use jpg and png files where possible. These image files are much smaller in size than other file types. Unless a transparent background is needed, you should always use jpg as these are the smallest file size.
- Compress your images. Even after you have resized your image and made sure it is a jpg or png file you should always compress the file. This can be done in a few ways depending on how you are building your website. There are many plugins available for WordPress or you can use an online tool such as TinyJPG to do this.
- Use lazyload on your images. This means that the browser will only need to call this data when an image has been scrolled to and can be implemented using various plugins and modules.
There are additional premium and paid options available, however, in most instances, you will only need to use a free version to get good enough results.
Use page caching on your website
Page caching is extremely important to help speed up your page loading times. When designing a website this should be high up on your priority list. Caching means web browsers do not have to download everything from a web page each time a user visits as the information is already “cached” in the web browser. This means your website will load much faster.
There are various ways to use caching on your website and often depends on how you are building it. For example, WordPress uses plugins. The are various plugins available, both free and paid and you can test which one works best for you.
Minification can be a great way to improve website loading speed. It works by removing unnecessary or redundant data in your websites code so the web browser can read and fetch the information more quickly.
The minify option can usually be found included on cache plugins or can be done using online tools depending on how your website is built.
Use a Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network or CDN is a large platform or servers that helps to minimise the delay in loading web page content by reducing the physical distance between the server and the end-user.
For example, if a server is based in Germany, the same web page will load more quickly to a German user than a user in Australia as there is much less distance for the information to travel from the source server to the user’s browser.
A content delivery network uses different servers based all over the world to serve the web page from the closest server to the end-user meaning the page will load more quickly.
There are many different CDN options available, both free and paid, however, we find for most users the free Cloudflare option is usually good enough.
Reduce or remove the use of image or video backgrounds
As with web page images you should also use the same principles for any background images. Only use an image that is the correct size for what you need and try to avoid background videos where possible. Although these may look good, they can have a negative effect on your website speed and there are often issues with the videos playing, especially on mobile devices.
It is always better to stick to simple images or even background colours to help reduce the loading speed of your website.
Avoid large layout shifts
By large layout shifts, we mean contact that moves around as it becomes visible. For example, an image or text block appearing from the side of the page. Some people like the visual of this, while others hate it. As with most opinions on designing a website, they are just that, opinions.
One thing that is not an opinion is that using these layout shifts adds extra code to your website meaning the web browser has to fetch more code in order to load the web page.
By removing these layout shifts, it helps to improve your page loading speed. Research also suggests that it is harmful to your user’s experience when browsing your website so it is better all-around to avoid these on your pages.
Learn about 4 free ways to speed up a WordPress website.
Less is more
What we mean by less is more, is that users generally see a flat, simple design as more appealing than something that has a complicated layout. You need to keep it simple when designing a website so your visitors feel at ease on your pages.
Your website needs to be easy to navigate, yet helpful so you visitors feel they know how to use it and where to find the information they need.
Many web designers are constantly thinking of ways to improve user experience and avoiding distractions such as sidebars and non-relevant content and material is a great way to keep your visitors engaged on the content that drove them to your website in the first place.
Other useful tips
Let’s take a short look at some more useful tips for designing a website:
Use descriptive headlines
The headline or keyphrase at the top of your pages needs to be descriptive as this is one of the first things a visitor will see. Making sure this headline shows the visitor they have arrived at the right place so they are more likely to continue to view your page.
Use call to actions throughout your page
Although every visitor will any calls to action at the very top of your page, you should spread these out throughout the page using any relevant content. This not only provides your visitors with relevant content as they view your page, but also helps with conversions as they will be staying on your website rather than going elsewhere.
When designing a website it is extremely important to try and keep your visitors as if they leave, they may be gone forever.
Use longer pages
Studies have shown that when designing a website you should look to include as much information as possible on every page. Rather than sending your visitors to multiple pages to find out bits and pieces of information, answer as much as possible on any relevant page.
Visitors are much more likely, up to 30% more, to purchase your product or service if all the information they need can be found on one page rather than them having to search multiple pages to find what they need.
Avoid carousels and rotating sliders
These are still very popular when designing a website, but it seems their time may be starting to run out. One problem with rotating carousels and sliders is they can be resource heavy, meaning a web browser will need more time to fetch the information for all items on the carousel or slider.
Although this may not sound too bad, it can affect page loading speeds, but the main issue is they are generally useless and the resources they use are wasted.
Studies show that less than 10% of visitors see the 2nd item on a carousel or slider and that figure can be less if it is a call to action.
When designing a website the best thing to do here is to use a featured image and if necessary, use the rest of your page to promote what would otherwise be in the other slides. This also works well with the tip above as you will be creating a longer page with more information for your visitors.
Keep it simple, don’t use jargon
Website visitors like to consume content they understand and the more simple your wording, the easier it is for your visitors. When designing a website it is not about “dumbing it down”, it is about using simple wording and language that everyone can understand. Basically, simple wording works for everyone so avoid using too many over-complicated words or jargon when you don’t have to.
Get more from your website by using these free online tools.
In this article, we have covered some basics about designing a website and using these top tips you will be well on your way to a faster, more user-friendly website the will rank better on search engines, help with conversions and retain customers.
There are of course many more technical aspects to building and designing a website, however, we feel if you get the basics right, the rest will follow.
Remember to check out our great value 100% NVMe shared hosting plans when designing a website for your next project.