Square buttons, round buttons, flashy buttons, orange, yellow, pink headings ... will they match my shoes, my handbag or my tie? Are you stuck in a maze of buttons, headings, bullets, sub-headings and colour schemes? Don't worry you are not alone.
Take a deep breath and read some practical tips for professional looking websites.
- Select a colour scheme and stick to it.
If your company has a logo or preferred colours on its stationery that's a good start. For those of you starting from scratch, choose two or three complementary colours and stick with them - don't change colours on every page.
The most common colour schemes include:
- Red, yellow and white
- Blue and white
- Red, grey and white
- Blue, orange and white
- Yellow, grey and white.
If you're not sure what colour scheme to choose, surf the internet and find a website that you like. You can then model your colour scheme on what already exists. Still can't decide? Why not speak to your family, friends and colleagues to see if they have a preference or if they know of any "good looking" websites.
- Use templates.
Can't find a website you really like? Another option is to choose a template. There are many templates or pre-set designs. These come as part of your web design software (such as FrontPage) or you can check out some websites that specialise in designing templates. Simply search for "website templates".
These templates can be customised to suit your business. Templates are great, as they allow you to see what your website will look like before you spend any money.
- Provide an easy to use navigation system.
This is one of the most important issues to consider when designing a website. You need to ensure your visitors can find what they are looking for easily. Most websites either display their navigation bar on the left or at the top. And since most people are used to this type of navigation, it's best to stick with it.
Please make sure your navigation bar is on every page, as visitors may not arrive at your website via your homepage. Because most Search Engines index your webpages by their content, one of your secondary pages may rank higher than your homepage. And if you don't have a navigation bar, your visitors won't have anywhere else to go.
It also helps to include your navigation bar at the bottom of each page to save your visitors from having to scroll back to the top.
- Don't go overboard on special effects
Whilst it is ok to have one or two special effects to jazz up your website, spinning graphics and logos often distract your visitor from the content, not to mention they can take too long to download. Your visitors may click away even before your spinning logo finishes loading.
If your website contains special effects that require extra software to be downloaded, you can be sure that 99% of people will not bother and will leave your website immediately.
When including pictures and photos, please ensure they are the smallest possible size so that they download quickly.
Ensure your visitors can read the text on the background, ie. no black writing on dark blue background or yellow on white. Also be careful that your links are visible before and after being visited. The default for links in most programs is blue (before being visited) and burgundy (after being visited), so if you have a dark background, ensure your links are light.
Stay away from busy backgrounds that distract from the content. White is still the most popular choice for background and it is so for a reason.
- External Links
It is a good idea to open links to other websites in a new window. That way your visitors can easily return to your site when they are finished browsing the external link.
- Content is King
While it is important that your website looks clean and professional, it is far more important that you concentrate your efforts on the content and promotion. Don't spend too much time worrying about whether Betty Jones will like your buttons. She has come to your website for the information, not to criticise your buttons and headings.
Ivana Katz makes it easy for you to get your business on the internet. If you're looking for a professional and affordable website designer, visit http://www.web4business.com.au and download a free website plan.