One. Ask: What is the WHY?
Why do you need one? Follow this by asking WHAT? is the intention? Keep your business vision or mission statement as your GPS as you plan and structure your site.
Two. Use a site map.
Design a site map if the website is more than 5 pages.
This provides a visual road map that gives a clear picture of how each page, and the content within, links together.
To build a site map online:
Three. Make a great first impression.
You have 5 seconds to create a good impression on the Home page before the viewer decides whether to stay or leave. A well designed site captures interest. Follow this with a consistent message. Create a sticky point – the part of your website that prompts the viewer to ponder and come back to your site. Your design must align and communicate to your market – the people who will buy what you offer. Designing a site for younger audiences, for example, will use very different fonts, colors and images, resulting in a very different design presence than an older demographic.
Four. Clarity + Continuity + Consistency = Credibility.
Clarity. We are bombarded by data everywhere. Stuff that demands our attention. The use of white space as an element in design offsets the "noise" on the site and allows the viewer clarity to better understand your message.
Continuity. Use fonts in the same family. Maintain flow between pages. Don’t open internal links in a new window. The logo and web banner should be repeated on each page in order to establish continuity throughout the site.
Consistency. Repetition = Consistency. Put your nav bar and logo on the same place on every page. Test your outside links then regularly test them to make sure they continue to be active.
Five. Use the KISS Principle.
Keep it Simple, Stupid. Less is more. Create big impact with less. Ensure ease of navigation with flow. This builds credibility.
Keep your lines of text to less than 600 pixels wide to ease readability.
Six. Create a mood board.
A mood board is a blank canvas using image software such as Photoshop that is used to explore visual options. Place pictures, fonts, textures and colour on an online canvas that you want to include in your site that align with the client's own vision. Add and subtract images as the design evolves. This is the gold of a good designer. Add a second canvas if another theme or tone beckons, then compare them. Get feedback.
Seven. Choose the right colours.
The colour scheme and font choice sets the tone of the site. Your logo is the “beacon” of your business, so choose a colour scheme around it so it “pops.” For more info on colour psychology, check out:
Another excellent resource is Adobe’s colour combination site:
Eight. Compress your graphic files.
Optimize gif and jpeg for faster downloads. Some free examples to optimize images are:
PC: GifBot, HVS GifCruncher and JPEG Wizard.
Nine. Learn the CSS Golden Rules.
Learn to code using cascading style sheets. HTML is limited. Maintain font size hierarchy. Use exclamation points and capital letters sparingly. To make a point, use italics, boldface, or a shade of the same color. Compliment your predominant font color with another font color for emphasis.
Ten. Give a reason for your visitor to return.
Give your viewers information they want to know. Spark curiosity. Keep an updated blog with what you know in your field of expertise. Create newsletters and RSS feeds to your blogs.
BONUS TIP: enjoy the journey! Design is an act of discovery. Stay open to those unexpected insights and AHA moments as you problem solve and brainstorm throughout the process. The final intent with good web design is a site that makes a positive, impacted statement about your business and invites trust and rapport with the people with whom you want to do business.