What is the Best Custom Website Design?
A Website for Visitors and You
As all businesses are not alike, neither should their websites be. Nevertheless, the best websites adhere to principles of good design. As a website owner, it pays to know what features you should expect in a custom website design – features I pay attention to.
Provide a Good User Experience (UX)
Users will leave quickly if they cannot figure out how to find what they are looking for. The navigation menu and search box should be easy to see. Make their use intuitively obvious.
First-time visitors want to know what the site is all about. Use informative headings, well-written articles and summaries, and short suggestions with links to related products and articles. The more helpful your content and navigation, the more likely your visitors will stay awhile.
The home page is a good place to summarize your site, but do not assume that all visitors come to your home page first. (Google probably took them straight to the page that fit their search terms instead.) Be sure that every page tells the visitors where they are now and how to get to key pages such as the home, contact and about pages and your online store if you have one.
If your site is full of helpful information but text is hard to read, many people won’t bother. Be sure the text is surrounded by adequate white space and helpful images. Use contrast rather than color difference alone to help text stand out from the background color. Remember that about 4.5% of the population is colorblind (and for men the percentage is 8%). Many people with poor vision also benefit from greater contrast. Use font sizes and styles that are easy to read.
Responsive Design that Engages
“Responsive design” simply means the design adapts to–is “responsive” to–the size of the device. For example, a grid of four images across on a large computer screen may be a much smaller grid of four images across on a tablet and a really tiny grid on a cell phone. However, that is not a good responsive design. A better one (depending on the images involved) may involve changing the number of columns on smaller screens so that, for example, on a tablet you see three columns of images instead of four and on a phone there is just a single column. Assuming that all the images are meaningful and not merely decorative, you would have the same number of images on the page regardless of screen size, but the layout and sizes of the images would likely change in such a way that both size and position are optimized for the screen size.
You do not want your site to be difficult or impossible to use. A design that is not responsive (or poorly responsive) is likely to have buttons, images and text disappear off the edge of a small screen.
Even if users can scroll horizontally back and forth to find them, they might not figure that out, and even if they do, they will likely be annoyed. Worse, they may be unable to see important navigation links or buttons unless they zoom out. Again, many site visitors will be clueless about the need to do so, if they even realize they are missing something.
Confused, annoyed or frustrated site visitors have plenty of other websites to visit. They will leave quickly without even a ‘goodbye’.
Sell with Style
Convey your business personality with your branding: business slogans, colors, images, videos, etc. Stick to a color scheme. Choose a set of fonts to use for headings, paragraph text, etc. A mishmash of colors and too many different font styles looks sloppy.
Even if you put up a website to sell products, make it more than that. A well-designed website, personalized to your business, can inspire confidence in any products you sell. Tell people why you sell the products you do. Show them how to use your products. Explain your return policy. Tell them how to contact you. How are your products making the world a better place? How do you show that you care about your customers?
Easy to Add Timely Content
If you need more than an unchanging Web-based business card, the best website design allows you to add and change content quickly without having to pay a developer to do it for you. This will be easy once a content management system (CMS) is designed and set up for you.
The CMS I use for myself as well as my clients is WordPress. WordPress began as a blogging platform, but it has since grown to include a huge variety of features which can be added or not, depending on what is needed.
Many images below are links to the very pages that the screen shots show. Links to website names in the text below go to the home pages instead.
WordPress appeals to developers and non-coders alike for many reasons, some of which I have listed below. Because WordPress is so flexible, it will be able to accommodate changing needs far into the future.
A large, supportive community of developers and end-users often provide free help and documentation. Community members frequently share code examples, documentation and expert advice. When that is not enough, there are literally millions of experienced WordPress developers you can hire. According to W3Techs, over 43 percent of all current websites run on WordPress.
Open source means the underlying code is available for anyone to look at and even modify. This has a number of advantages, some of which are covered below.
A Huge Number of Well-Tested Plugins
Many plugins (sometimes called extensions) have a thousand or tens of thousands—some over a hundred thousand—installations. Plugins that are well-used and open source have their code examined and evaluated by many developers and users. Problems are identified quickly here.
Low Cost of Development
Unless you do all the work yourself, WordPress is not free (and you have to pay for web hosting besides). But for what you get, WordPress is relatively inexpensive. For one thing, the supportive community helps keep costs down. Even if some of what you read in support communities is geek-speak to you, it helps lower your developer’s costs and thus what charges get passed on to you.
Another cost-saving factor is the aforementioned plugins, which are often free or inexpensive. Even the more expensive usually offer features well worth paying for. Your developer could create the same functionality from scratch, but a plugin will get the code into the website quicker and usually save a good deal of money.
“The software doesn’t do that” is rarely applicable to WordPress. WordPress can be customized to do most anything.
For whatever you want to do, there is likely to be a plugin that someone has already written. If the plugin does not do it well enough, your developer can write custom code. Even when WordPress is not the best platform for one area, WordPress may provide part of the solution, given the large number of integrations already available.
WordPress sites often include:
- Online stores.
- User groups and members-only areas.
- Events with calendar integration.
- Appointment reservations.
- Social networking integration.
- Database integration.
- And much more.
WordPress is the most-used content-management system in the world today. It has not only withstood the test of time, but the community keeps improving it. Unlike some platforms, WordPress is not going away anytime soon.
For More Information
Do you want to fix, improve, or start a new website? Do you have questions?
I am happy to discuss your needs and give you answers. Just contact me.