What makes an effective website? It has to look good, sure, but it also has to work seamlessly. Form and function are at the core of web design, but they’re two pretty broad terms, so we’re going to break it down for you. If you consider each of these principles, you’re well on your way to a website that looks awesome, is easy to use and navigate, and engages your target customers.
Does your site fit its purpose?
Obviously you need to love your own site, but you’re not the target audience. To establish if your site fits its purpose, you need to first understand your customers and what they want from your site. Do they want information, to be entertained, or do they want to do business with you? You need to have a clear purpose for each page of your site that fulfils your customers’ needs.
Is your site communicating effectively?
You’ve spent hours crafting your website copy, but research tells us that your customers will only read 28% of it. Sad, right? But that means that what you say is even more important; if people are only reading a fraction of the copy, you need to make sure that you’re communicating your messaging clearly and effectively to give your customer the best chance of picking up the right information.
Top tips for web effective web copy:
- Break text up using headings and subheadings
- Use bullet points rather than long-winded paragraphs
- If you don’t need to say it, don’t
Can your users navigate your site?
Navigation is oh so important; if your customers can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll probably just move on to a competitor’s site, something that you absolutely do not want. Make sure that your page hierarchy is logical, that you have buttons that guide users through your site, and that, despite the number of clicks it takes to get to their destination, your user enjoys the journey.
Is your content in the right place?
There have been plenty of studies that have confirmed that we scan screens in an ‘F’ pattern. We start at the top left, scan right a bit, scan down, then right a bit again, then down to the bottom. The evidence is there, so don’t ignore it; design your site so that your users see the right stuff.
Does your site load quickly enough?
How many times have you got frustrated waiting for a site to load? We are impatient, and we expect the content to load pretty much immediately; 83% of people will abandon a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
Top tips to improve load times:
- Optimise image sizes
Does your site work on a mobile device?
Everyone has a smartphone. Most people also have multiple computers, laptops, and tablets too. Nowadays you seriously need your site to work seamlessly and effectively across all devices and ideally needs to be responsive (meaning that your site will adjust to different screen widths rather than having a separate mobile site). Not only will this make your site super usable for your customers, but Google’s algorithms require your site to be mobile friendly in order to boost your SEO.
Is your typeface readable?
The general rule is that Sans Serif fonts (like Arial and Verdana) are easier to read online. Serif fonts (fancy and decorative fonts) make it much more difficult for readers to pick up on the important information. Make sure your typeface is large enough (around 16px is ideal) and that it doesn’t go super small or super large on mobile. Don’t mix and match your typeface too much either; keep it streamlined by using no more than three fronts and three font sizes on your site.
Does your colour palette work?
Colour palette is probably the first thing you think about when it comes to web design; it is an incredibly influential element when it comes to a good looking site. Make sure your colours complement each other, that your background colour and text colour are contrasting to make it easy to read, and that bright colours are used sparingly to make important elements stand out.
Do your images tell the right story?
They say a picture can speak a thousand words, so you don’t want those thousand words to be the wrong ones. Images on your site will help to enhance your brand image and connect with your customers, so make sure you don’t scrimp on the stock images (free images are free for a reason). If you can’t afford a professional photographer to take bespoke site images, there are plenty of paid for (but not bank breaking) stock image sites that will help make sure you’re positioning your brand in the right way.