This is where the hard work you did in Step 1 comes into play. Having a clear definition of your target customer will help guide many of your decisions when the specific work of designing your new business Web site begins.
Doesn’t everybody want basically the same things from a Web site? Well, yes and no.
Any visitor wants to know quickly what your site is about, what you have to offer that’s of value to them, a well-designed system to move them through its pages and freedom from sensory assault by unexpected, unwelcome noisy and flashy graphics.
Remember always: Your Web site is there to serve your customers and their needs. If you’re turned off by endless popups, grating audio and graphics that look like they’ve been lifted from the Vegas strip, then you shouldn’t expect your Web site visitors to react any differently.
Your target customer may also have special needs that should be included in your site design. The same features that are meant to serve them may also be just as welcome to a general audience.
We’ll prepare you to move forward with briefings and resources in 3 parts:
- General Design Principles
- Getting Around On Your Web Site
- ‘Seniors’ and Special Needs
This step assumes you’ve already chosen design software (Step 2) or are looking into it. We highlight important considerations for your Web site design, but cannot handle such a complex subject here alone. So we’ve included useful resources and tools at the end of this step to make up for it.
General Design Principles
Don’t be a showoff. That’s another way of saying what we’ve stressed before, and will again: When it comes to Web design, as in so many other things, simple is better.
Of course you want photos and other graphic images to tell your company’s story in the best way. And without some eye candy, any Web page is blah.
But use only what’s needed to enhance your central message and tell it quickly and clearly in an attractive setting. Never make your customers work to get the information they need.
As you move ahead in building your site, stick to these basic design rules:
- Keep it clean. Empty white space on your Web pages is itself a design element. Use enough to keep each page uncluttered and uncramped. Do the same if you decide to use a dark background.
- In the dark. Never use dark text on dark backgrounds, or for that matter colored text on a white background. It must be easy to read. Black-on-white is best.
- Gray blocks. Because you’re already keeping it simple, make your text as concise and straightforward as possible. Don’t waste words – they waste your customers’ time. And break up long paragraphs. What the eyes sees in a split second – about all it takes for a Web user to split from your site – is a big, challenging block of gray. Give it some air.
- Choose colors carefully. You wouldn’t wear red plaid pants with an orange striped shirt (we hope!), and you should use the same design sense in picking the color palette for your Web site. There are free tools to help. You’ll find links below.
- Use successful models. The things you like or hate about other Web sites are probably the same for most other users. Take notes on what works and what you’d like to imitate. Better yet, save a screenshot in your design file. It’s easy:
- With your cursor anywhere on the Web page you’ve chosen, hold down the Alt key and press the Print Screen key.
- Nothing happened? Don’t worry, you just couldn’t see it.
- Now open a blank document page in your word processor, right click anywhere on it and choose Paste. An exact duplicate of the Web page you selected will appear!