Effective Website Design

Nevermind what great design you have, no matter how up-to-date your well written content is, or which carefully considered functionality you offer on your website — if your targetted visitors don't understand how they can get from Point A (a page on your website) to Point B (their goal), then they won’t get the most from your website.

Remember! A visitor has clicked through to your website for a reason - they want either your product, your service or your knowledge — so you have to lead them to it.

  • Every effective website consists of:
    • header — your logo and/or your descriptive strapline
    • navigation — easy to follow and logical paths to areas of your website
    • content — using short and concise sentences to deliver your message
    • the footer — links to the important pages in your website, an address and confirmation of all your contact details
  • Your website needs to be obvious and self-explanatory. Your strapline and first sentence needs to inform exactly what it is you do. A well designed logo can help deliver this message too.
  • Your website needs a clear structure, sprinkled with visual clues and easily recognisable links or buttons which help visitors find a path to their goal. Visually appealing 1-2-3-‘done’ steps are extremely effective ways to lead visitors through your website in a very simple and user-friendly way.
  • Your website content needs to be written in short and concise phrases.
    Don’t forget! Visitors don’t read, they ‘scan’ — so use bulleted lists wherever possible. Stay focussed too. The moment your content deviates from your message, so will your visitor.
  • A ‘call-to-action’ statement or button to satisfy ‘what do I do now?’
    Examples of how call-to-action’s are presented, include;
    • a phone number in the header of your website
    • a ‘Buy now!’ button
    • a ‘Learn more...’ text link
    It is common practice to have more than one call-to-action per page.

Not so effective web design

  • Paragraphs of text on dark backgrounds — makes pages difficult to read
  • Multiple fonts families in multiple text sizes — renders a badly formatted page, difficult to visually ‘scan’ the webpage and pick out useful content
  • Clashing colour schemes — an unprofessional approach to website design
  • Blinking text or adverts — very distracting and often repel visitors
  • Having too little information to read — your visitor must not leave your website unfulfilled or underwhelmed

The Assemble Online ‘Top 5 Website Design Dislikes’

  1. Pop-up windows
    Almost every modern web browser uses a popup-blocker to prevent pop-ups (usually adverts). Firefox, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer make use of it — therefore using pop-ups to present any form of content should be very carefully considered.
  2. Dropdown & fly-out Menus
    Yes, a drop-down menu may save large amounts of vertical space thus pushing your important messages further up the screen. However, if you do need to use drop-down menus, use no more than 8 selectable items in each drop-down menu. Avoid second level ‘fly-out’ navigation (unless very well thought out and designed) as we web users find it much easier to control the up/down movement when using a mouse. Moving sideways encourages erratic mouse movements and we often ‘fall off’ the menu and have to start again.
  3. Too much 'visual noise'
    Less is more. Visual noise is probably one of the most typical problems a visitor has to cope with. Good web designers leave space between the various elements which make up the web page which allows the web page to ‘breathe’. There is a reason for the scroll-wheel on our mouse and we are happy to use it to read well presented content.
  4. Unfriendly content
    Text may be too small to read comfortably, text may be misspelt, text links are unclear (text links should be a different colour to the main text with an underlined styling), links which do not go anywhere (dead links), content which publishes ten lines of padded out content to describe what can be done in two lines of well edited content. We do not like unfriendly content.
  5. Unnecessary demands
    Try and keep our requirements minimal. Why expect a us to enter an email address just to view a demo of your product(s) or service? Allow us to find out as much about your product(s) or services in the shortest amount of time possible. This gives us more time to pick up the phone or email for more information.

To view examples of effective website designs, please visit the Assemble website portfolio page.