In this day and age, it’s pretty clear that a website is one of the most, if not the most, important parts of your digital presence. A lot of times, it can be the first and only touchpoint you get to impress your potential customers. So how come so many websites still load funky on mobile devices or completely ignore the rules of aesthetics?
What can you do to not be that person with a weird, flash website?
It’s best to enlist the help of a professional designer. Yet, if you feel brave enough to conquer the laws of design, remember these rules.
1. Make it fast
A modern website needs to be designed for the modern browsers. Not only does a cleaner site create a better user experience, it also improves its functionality. One of the most important things to constantly monitor is the speed of your site.
Did you know that 40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load?
It’s hard to resist installing all the coolest software, and making some money displaying ads, but these things slow down your site. Your site speed might really suffer, and you’ll lose your readers along with it.
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2. Make it responsive
I don’t need to tell you that a lot of site traffic will come from mobile devices. If your website is still not responsive, you have to take care of that right now. It is a horrible experience when a website takes too long to load, the text appears way too small to read, and your fingers are too fat to click on one thing instead of three. Guess what? People won’t tolerate this. They will simply leave your site.
Additionally, Google now penalises sites that are not mobile-friendly. Forty-eight percent of consumers start mobile research with a search engine. So you’re losing out on potential sales in more ways than one.
3. Make it stylish
Be clear on what mood and impression you want to project, and what colour palette will help you achieve that. Select a palette, and stick with it. It makes people think you have bipolar disorder, when different pages have inconsistent background colours. It’s generally a good idea to have one neutral colour and one bright colour to balance the two.
4. Make it legible
Select a font that will complement your overall imagery and that will be easy to read. Please don’t use Comic Sans or Times New Roman. While there is nothing wrong with those fonts, they don’t convey an image of a polished, well-defined brand.
5. Make it easy on the eyes
Just because you’ve got so much space on a screen, doesn’t mean you have to use it all. Nicely space out text and images, and employ the power of white space.
It makes reading easier and creates an overall pleasurable experience; whereas websites that are too crowded create a sense of information being crammed onto website and pushed onto readers.
6. Make it easy to navigate
Your navigation should be as minimal as possible. You neither want, nor need every single page to be represented under the navigation tree.
Instead, it might be a clever idea to have a general page underneath each option that further directs traffic with various links or buttons.
If you can’t decide among all the pages you have, you can gain a great insight into how your traffic flows through your site by visiting Google Analytics and selecting behaviour.
7. Make it clear
When people visit your website for the first time, make sure you screen them out with a clear mission or even a slogan right up front. This way, only people, who are looking for the types of information you provide, will stick.
One way to see if you’re doing a good job at attracting the right kinds of readers is to look at entry rates, exit rates and bounce rates for individual pages.
If a page has a high number of entries, but 80 percent of that traffic is bouncing, there is clearly an issue with the page.
8. Make it focused
It’s ok to have varied interests and be knowledgeable in more than one topic.
Yet, you have to narrow in on a couple of topics or less. You may select wider topics such as “digital marketing” instead of “social media marketing.” But it goes back to being useful to a very specific group of people. Drive that focus and usefulness home before taking on any more topics.
9. Make it valuable
Provide value all the time. Provide value with your blog, your online sales and your copy that not only sells but educates. Make visitors want to stay on your website for as long as possible.
Remember, your company’s website is your first and last chance to impress website visitors. Make sure it’s a pleasant experience – with clean copy, a well-defined objective and a relaxing experience.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.