The two principles of website design that business owners must know
As a business owner, you will already know how important a website is to your commercial success. Even if you don't sell online, your site will act as your shop window to the outside world - communicating who you are, what you do and how to connect with you.
This is hardly news - the vast majority of businesses already have an online presence. Therefore simply having a website is no longer enough. You need a modern, quick loading site which works on all screen sizes and is designed to reflect your brand and provide the information your potential clients are looking for in a swift, consistent and intuitive manner.
If you're thinking of designing (or re-designing) your website, there are key design elements you should consider to ensure you produce a modern, fit for purpose site. However, before we get to those, there are two overriding principles that we need to address first as they should form the basis for every design decision you make. Use these simple two principles at all times in your website development and the site you produce will be more effective than the majority you find on the web.
Two overriding principles of great website design
1. Clarity of purpose
“If you don't know where you are going,
you will probably end up somewhere else”Lawrence J. Peter
It might seem overly obvious but the single most important step in developing a successful website is understanding what you are trying to achieve. What key message are you trying to convey the instant that people visit your site? What information / reassurance are your website visitors looking for? What do you want them to do once they visit your site?
Whether you are working with a designer, using a website service which includes free designs or doing it yourself, having a clear understanding of your website objectives is critical. Spend time and effort developing your site objectives and write them down. Keep them physically where you can see them so you have a visual reminder of what you are trying to achieve throughout the process.
2. Your website is for your visitors, not you
“When we shift our perception, our experience changes”Lindsay Wagner
The 2nd thing to consistently bear in mind is also obvious but often forgotten - you are not designing a site for yourself, you are designing it for your visitors.
Information that is obvious to you may not be obvious to the people your site is aimed at. Things that you find fascinating and interesting may be irrelevant to your visitors.
Look at every design decision you make through the prism of your visitors and test your new website by asking for feedback from clients / potential clients. Is it clear who you are and what services / products you are selling? Is your content easily understandable or full of jargon? Is your website intuitive and easy for visitors to use? Can they access the information they require quickly?
Simply keeping these two overriding principles at the forefront of your mind throughout the process will lead you to make good design decisions and get you 80% of the way towards an effective corporate website.
So now that you have a prism through which to make and evaluate the design decisions you are faced with, the next thing to consider are the actual elements of the website itself. Specifically, what are the key design elements that every effective business website should contain.