First impressions matter and that is true for websites too. It takes just 1/10th of a second for us to form an impression about an individual and this applies to websites as well. It takes about 0.05 seconds for a user to form an opinion of your website and that will determine whether that user will stay around or bounce off elsewhere.
There are several factors that help form a user’s impression of a website and the factors are Colours, spacing, symmetry, fonts used, text, structure, credibility and more.
A research by Google have found that users just love simple and familiar designs and this helps them make a great impression. The simple and familiar appeals to most users sense of what is beautiful and what is not.
Know what your users are paying attention to when on your site. Do you know that it just takes a mere 2.6 seconds for a user to lay his eyes on a part of your website before he forms an impression?
There are also several key elements that a user looks at and which interest him the most. We have to pay attention to these key elements in order to have a site that gets users to come back again and again.
This is something that the user is focused on when he lands your website.
You need a logo that is able to resonate with your audience. Most importantly the logo has to be simple and the viewer is able to get the idea the moment they view the logo.
Users spent a considerable amount of time looking at your navigation menu. It serves as a guide to your users to other pages that are not found on your main home page.
On top of that it helps users feel more secure as they get a basic feel of the orientation of your website. When they reach a level of comfort that your navigation menu provides, you gain trust from your users as your site have been able to differentiate itself from other sites that have navigation menus that are just annoying, frustrating and plain unhelpful.
There is no doubt that content plays a very important role in a successful website. You need to have a clear and effective message on your website. It needs to clearly communicate to your users the real reason why your website exist in the first place. It shouldn’t be a guessing game for your users.
If a site is about teaching others to cook Asian food, then you must tell that to your user the minute he lands on your site.
Avoid the use of jargon and do not go around in circles when you communicate to your target audience. Once you are clear on who your target audience is, you need to talk to them in such a way that it interests them and keeps them reading and wanting to look around for longer on your site.
Quality content is a must have on your site and is also a direct reflection of your reputation as a website site owner. You need to get the content right before you launch your site as first impressions forms quickly and content plays a major role in that aspect.
The footer area is one of the most important areas of your website. It may not be an area where most of the design takes place but it is an area where your users will look for information as they scroll down to the bottom of your website.
The footer area is definitely not an area that you would want to overlook. It will do you good if you take note of some simple tips when you are doing up your footer area.
One thing you should do when designing the footer area is to keep it simple. Again the word simple comes up.
Simplicity or lucidity in the footer area makes a website attractive to your users.
=> Why is that so?
The footer area contains a lot of information and a complex design will just make it even harder for your user to know what elements inhabit your footer area. It is hence best that you keep your footer area clean and spacious, with a sense of purpose in how it’s organized.
Try to also include basic information in the footer area. Include in the footer area your contact details, email address and also your office address.
The best is if you can set up each element to contain links to the contact us page which allows them to email you directly, links to maps so that they know exactly where you are located on the map and links to your social media profiles.make it easy for your users to keep in touch with you and to find you. It will go a Long way for you.
The sidebar on your blog or site is prime real estate and should be given serious thought.
Most websites have their about profile, newsletter opt ins, social media buttons, awards and ads on their sidebar. You can include all these elements in your sidebar but whatever you do do not over clutter your sidebar. It would just become an inconvenience for your user to keep on scrolling down and having to see that the sidebar never ends.
=> Which is better, a single sidebar or a double sidebar?
In my opinion a double sidebar is just too much and it only distracts your user from being focused on the important sections of your website. Keep to a single sidebar and most importantly be selective in what you want to put in your sidebar. De-clutter is the keyword here and you should try to really include elements that the most necessary.
=> What are the most important elements that should be in your side bar?
The elements which I think are important and should be in your side bar includes your profile, signup form, ads, search, featured post and social media follow buttons. Other elements can take a backseat and be placed in other areas of your website.
Thoughtful consideration should be given to your choice of fonts. Select a font that allows easy readability on both the MAC and the PC.
There are thousands of fonts out there but they are mainly broken up into 5 main categories:
The best fonts to use for bodies of text are the serif and sans serif fonts. You would do well to select a font from either the serif or the sans serif fonts.
Serif fonts are characterised by small strokes or lines that extend from the ends of the letters. These lines make the character look distinctive and it makes for an easier read.
If you have a website that is traditional and intellectual in nature, use serif fonts as it has that humanistic element that makes it a favourite for use in magazines and newspapers.
Sans serif fonts on the other hand is known for their simple character and the lack of any lines found in the serif fonts. Sans serif fonts lack the personality that is available in serif fonts and as such are often used in headings and technical based articles. They however work well on computer screens as they absence of lines allow the fonts to stand out well in a white background. They are the most commonly used fonts for use in PowerPoint presentations and websites.
=> What size should I use for the main body text and headings?
For the main body text, 12px is the ideal sized to be used. Main headings should be 16px or 18px while sub headings can be 14px. Captions can be 9px or 10px.
Take Note: Never use anything below 10px for the main body text. Choose the right fonts for your text and be aware of how the fonts affect the mood of your site as well as the user’s overall experience. After everything is in place, sit back begin to look at your website from a distance. If everything looks easy on the eye and you feel comfortable with the site, you might have just made the most appropriate choices for your site.
The graphics and icons that you use on your website need to be top notch and high quality. There is no room for mediocre and ugly graphics on your website.
Use the most appropriate graphics for your site and pay attention to the detail.
You might think that your users might not notice the small little details in your graphics but believe me they do.
Keep the graphics that you use uniform and use icons that come in a set. This will increase the professionalism of your site and if you want to become an authority in a particular niche, it is even more important that you use high quality graphics.
The uniformity in the use of your graphics will also make your site look uncluttered and more organised. This is a good thing as users hate a site that make them go through hoops and which seems to make it difficult for them to find the information that they require.
Website speed matters and is something that you must pay attention to. You must make your site load fast. If users have to wait a Long while for the site to load, they might just click the x button and you will forever be gone from their lives.
One tool that you can use to test your website loading speed is pingdom. If you would want your site to have the instantaneous response effect, you should try to make your site as fast as 0.1 second. If your site takes as long as 1 second to load, users can sense the delay but they will still forgive you as they still feel that they are in control.
Do check out Google Pagespeed to find out ways to improve the performance of your website.
If you are using WordPress, do use http caching or caching plugins.
Another step that you can take to improve your site’s performance is to use cloud based hosting or VPS hosting. Do whatever you can to improve your site’s loading speed. Your users can tell the difference and so can the search engines. They will rank you better when your site loads blazing fast.
Eventually it all boils down to the overall feel of your website. If your site has a great overall feel and all the sections and the elements seem to gel well together, you might just have a website that can prove to be a winner in the long run.
Of course you should not just take my words for it. You should do some test with your friends and ask them to provide feedback about your website.
Sometimes, being the owner of a site, we might just overlooked certain things whereas others could just spot these flaws easily. Most importantly you are able to create a user friendly environment on your site so that users feel welcomed and wouldn’t mind returning for the helpful tips that you are providing.
You can use the above tips to create an awesome new website or you can use these tips to improve on your current website. Take one tip as a time to improve your website. Create a user friendly environment for your visitors and users. Remember the word simplicity and use that as an approach when you are designing your site. Simplicity and ease of use makes for a great site. No one can say no to that.