How first impressions count
You only have a short time to grab visitor's interest on your website. Failure to do so will result in visitors leaving and probably never returning, potentially losing a sale. This is where your website design is so so important.
- Use the right colours
If your company has a brand then use the colours, or colours that compliment the brand. Avoid harsh and bright colours and provide enough contract between the colour of the text and the background colour, especially if you want users to spend any time reading the content of your website. Avoid using an overly busy background pattern under text as this can be very difficult to read.
Animations and motion in general can be irritating and get in the way of what users want to do by distracting them from the main content of the page. Always use animations sparingly and only when they add something to the page, for example an animation can be used to show more content when a user clicks on an item.
Entice the visitor to read on by placing the most important content at the top of the page. This also signals to search engines that this content is important. Use headings to break content up and avoid making the page to busy with too much content, users can find this overwhelming. Bullet points are a great way to display information and allow users to quickly skim trough content to the areas that interest them.
A consistent look across all your pages is essential, this makes sites easier to use and easier to get around, for example if the main navigation is at the top of one page a user will find if difficult if it moves to the left hand side or has different menu items. External consistency is also important - keeping your site in-line with other sites helps visitors understand how to use your website. Whilst it is good to have a site that stands out from everyone else's this should not be at the expense of usability, users have a certain expectancy of certain conventions. For example hyper-links are underlined - having text that is styled as underlined but is not a link will have many users clicking it and may become frustrated.
99% of websites really on the written word to portray informaation to the visitor so it is vital that fonts used are clear and readable. Keeping the number of different fonts used on one page to a minimum - under 4 ensures the page has structure and looks professional and san serif fonts are generally regarding as more readable on screens. Use the right size text, too small makes sites difficult to read. Use mixed capitalisation, whole sentences in capitals are very difficult to read and does not look professional.
High quality images are essential, using clip art or the over used stock imagery can ruin an otherwise good looking site. Picture that relate to the content are the best, using pictures of real people such as staff members work better than stock photos of generic people. Pictures of products are essential, everyone likes to see what they are buying.
Spending time on the look of your site is essential to get a well performing website that makes your visitors keep coming back for more. It is always a good idea to get an experienced professional web designer to offer advice whenever you have any doubt.