Blog Post

Website design best practices


A lot goes into designing a website--it can become a little overwhelming. In this video chat between HubShout CEO Chad Hill and President Adam Stetzer, the two talk about what some website design best practices are that you should implement for a sales-oriented website. Enjoy and don't forget to write in the forum about a topic that you'd like to see a video about!

TRANSCRIPTION:

Hello, and welcome to our website design best practices video. I'm Chad Hill, and I have Adam Stetzer with me today.

Hey, good afternoon, Chad. I think I'd like to talk to our viewers about the best practices during a web development project, and hear your thoughts on what are website design best practices in constructing a very engaging well-converting website.

That's a great question. The first thing-- and there are really three things that I look at when talking about website design best practices. The first one is the website development and design itself. And there's a couple things that have evolved with website development and design over the last few years that really make a modern website stand out from one that's a couple years old.

First website design best practice is that there's a really strong use of sliders today. And the purpose of those is when you come to a home page, most businesses have a couple main points they're trying to make. And a slider is a great way to provide a nice big space to communicate a couple messages.

So there's a slider that may talk about product A, product B, and product C. And it rotates through there. So that's a really good website design best practice.

Another web design best practice is looking at the top part of the website, the header and the top nav. And what we want to see are some consistent, nice drop-down menus to allow you to very quickly navigate to parts of the website without having to click through multiple levels. And also to have things like phone numbers and ways to find out how to contact you also in the top of that area, in the header area.

And the final website development thing that I would mention as a website design best practice is there are really the use of images and the overall design itself. You want it to be modern and have nice textured drop shadow type images so that it looks well-- nicely put together. But images do a large part of that. So having a nice, consistent set of images with textured, with maybe drop shadows around the side or that fade in or out and blend into the website really make a big difference between a website that looks just very much put together with stock images, and one that's been cohesively put together.

I thought it was interesting that you said modern a couple times there. And so for some of our viewers who may not have redone a website or followed as closely the trends in website development and design, it's probably important for them to know, when thinking about website design best practices, that the definition of modern really does shift. Because what you saw 10 years ago is drastically different than what you see today. And I can even sort of spot websites and know, oh, that looks like what was in maybe three years ago or five years ago, as things have shifted in their width, the size of the image on the page, the colors, even the background colors. So that's something interesting for people just getting into this to understand as well.

Right. And under the covers, a lot of that is really driven by advances in CSS and some HTML5 and other things that most people really don't need to worry a whole lot about. But using those technologies and those standards is what allows people to do more dynamic things with their website.

So the second website design best practice that we wanted to talk about is making sure that you have very good, clear call to actions on your website. And again, a couple years ago, a lot of what people would do is focus on just one call to action-- fill out my lead form or call my phone number. Today, the big push is to have what are called micro-conversions, having lots of different ways to potentially interact, because everyone is at a different point in the decision process.

So if you are ready to contact sales, of course you want to have that lead form. You want to have the phone number. But if you're just getting started in researching an area, things like Twitter, social media icons that allow people to go follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook or the ability to sign up for a newsletter, these are things that are really important for allowing a customer who comes to your website and is there, but maybe isn't ready for that one big conversion, to take a baby step or a micro-conversion towards engaging with you.

You might be showing your bias as a marketing professional there, because there are probably website design guys out there who say, oh, that's not really a website design best practice. That's really a marketing issue. But I agree with you.

Because when people go to buy or build or rebuild a website, and they're looking for best practices, it's not because they're trying to make an artistic expression. It's because they're trying to get a customer to contact them. So I think call to action and micro-conversions are very much in the best practices handbook and need to be considered right up front when you're designing or redesigning.

That's a great point. Actually, and it's funny you say that Adam, because I have a friend, one of our partners, great designer, he loves to make websites that only have pictures, no text. So I think adding on to the idea of website design best practices is make sure that you don't just have images. You have images, but you also have text, because in today's world search engines matter. And search engines have a real hard time reading images.

So the final one to mention is maintainability. Because this is something that maybe you don't think a whole lot about upfront, when you're working on your website design best practices. But you do want a website that's built in a CMS content management system that is supported by a large community. We use WordPress at HubShout, because it is probably one of the most widely, or is the most widely adopted CMSs. And so it has a very big following of people adding to the platform.

And the other one that you want to really consider is making sure that you don't building anything from scratch. Again, with the websites today, the way website development is constructed is that they're very modular. And you can bring functional blocks that people have built in different places, through plug-ins and other ways to add things into a website.

You want to use as much of those as possible and not reinvent the wheel. Because if you reinvent the wheel, you have two issues. One, you have to pay for it upfront. And two, you have to support it. No one's making changes or updating it over time. So those are three things that I would think about when working on website design best practices.

And that last one's really cool, because we really live in a very awesome time, in terms of design capabilities, using these module tools that just didn't exist a few years ago. So it actually expedites the process too. Well, thanks for joining us. And leave us some comments. We'd love to hear from you.

Comments (5)

  • Nick Reply

    I love sliders. Both on websites and on little buns with cheese. :)

    When I think back to the websites that have really engaged me most, they've equally met both criteria -- being beautifully designed and graphically or artistically engaging, while still allowing me to easily get more information (see portfolio samples or photos, connect through social media, read about their company/history/mission, etc.). You can achieve both -- WP is a great way to do that, I think, with all its templates and plugins.

    Anyway, that's my two cents as an end-user.

    01/18/13 at 09:35 AM
  • Jesse Reply

    @Nick - good call. I love sliders, especially if they're buffalo sliders!!

    With regard to website design, I think WP is one of the best options that may get overlooked too often for a more custom design. Custom designs can be great, but they could also cost much more than a company is looking to pay for.

    Have two or more call to actions is also a great thing for people to consider.

    01/18/13 at 11:00 AM
  • Matt Reply

    I cannot tell you how many sites I have optimized that do not have lead forms and o phone numbers on the home page

    01/18/13 at 05:04 PM
  • Chris Reply

    One of the easiest ways that non-professionals can evaluate their own sites is to compare with sites that you like personally. Easy-to-use sites that accomplish goals smoothly and quickly.

    There have been numerous studies that relate time-on-site to user frustration and subsequent site departure. The average that I remember is roughly 5% / second. Meaning, if it takes the average visitor 5 seconds to find something on your site, 25% of the visitors will leave before finding what they wanted. 10 seconds and you have lost half your audience.

    01/22/13 at 12:06 PM
  • Paul Reply

    Great comment, Chris! 5% a second... I'm going to remember that one. Thanks!

    01/25/13 at 02:07 PM

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