Fantastic! Your link has gotten hits and people are viewing your site. Don’t relax just yet: the hard part isn’t over.
Keeping visitors engaged enough to stay on your website is a new task in and of itself. Web design has become so integral in creating content that you can now major in it. But before you go spending big bucks on digital design classes or hiring an expensive expert, check to see if applying these five essential elements can improve the quality of your website more quickly and affordably.
1. Effective web page navigation
Your website is likely composed of many different pages, and your homepage should provide a place where the user can easily find what page they are looking for.
Having a navigation bar at the top of the page with your major web pages will enable visitors to quickly find what they’re looking for and avoid becoming frustrated and leaving your site. Need an example? Take a look at what Michael Capiraso has done with his personal website: At the very top of the page, there is a simple but effective way of traversing through his site’s information.
2. A theme that fits the purpose of your site
Running a website that helps your local animal shelter find homes for dogs and cats? Maybe you should ditch the gunmetal gray background and jpeg flames on the sidebars. The color theme and font give a strong impression to all your site’s traffic. Large hot pink calligraphic titles may be suitable for a jewelry store’s website. However, it would be better to choose something more nuanced for the home page of a law firm.
This isn’t to say you can’t get creative with stylizing your website. Rather you should try to keep a consistent and appropriate theme throughout. Take a look at the site created for Merriam-Webster. The simple font and cool color tones are exactly what you would expect from a dictionary.
3. Appropriate use of images and blank space
No successful website can be made up of just text blocks or images. The key is to not only create a balance between the amount of text and images, but also to make sure that those texts and images are correctly formatted on your page.
It is typical to have margins on either side of your website’s pages so that text is not running from one end of the page to the other. However, these sidebars don’t always need to be empty space. They could be filled with images, or even ads if your website is getting enough traffic.
The core content of every page should be located in the center, and sidebars should be reserved for less critical information.
While your website’s pages should have an appropriate amount of content, try to pack information too densely and your site will start to feel cluttered. Mobile users and desktop browsers both can scroll, so don’t hesitate to use vertical space to reduce busyness.
4. A “Contact Us” page
It’s a bold assumption that your website will work flawlessly from the get-go and an even bolder assumption that it will satisfy the specific needs of each visitor.
Having a point of contact available for your visitors gives assurance that there is a human working behind the scenes if problems arise with the site. This is especially important for websites that allow for commerce: As soon as monetary transactions are present on your website, it is critical that you give visitors a way of reaching out. Not only does this give customers peace of mind, but it also can help rectify issues that come up during purchasing.
Contact information doesn’t always need to have its own separate page. You can include contact details in the “About” section of your website also. For example, The Wall Street Journal has multiple ways for its visitors to reach out to someone behind the scenes, depending on what issues are present.
5. Evidence of frequent use
If your site has a blog section that hasn’t been posted on for years, it won’t draw visitors in and may make your site look outdated. Similarly, if none of the products listed in your catalog have been reviewed, potential customers may be wary of your page’s legitimacy.
Make sure to keep all information on your site current and see that pages with low traffic are updated, deleted, or modified accordingly. The trustworthiness of your website can hinge on evidence that other users are frequently interacting with it.
Certainly, there are more ways of improving your website, and maybe you will eventually want to further your education in web design. For now, though, making sure that your website has these five essential elements will not only increase the time visitors will spend on your pages but will also improve the quality of their experience.