As the saying goes, the first impression is a lasting one. When a someone navigates to your website, they don’t absorb the actual content at the same time they absorb the colors and overall design. One of these actually takes effort to interpret, and it isn’t the latter. Within just a few seconds, the visitor should be able to learn what the website is about and where they can find the information they’re looking for. It is the job of the webmaster to make this as easy as possible. Remember, a visitor sees everything as a whole before settling down to read what the page says.
The first objective in creating a good website design is basic structure. Most sites will have more than one page, making it crucial to have a small section dedicated to navigation. Each page should have a title, allowing one to quickly and easily determine the type of content they might find on that particular page. Then, of course, the content itself; this is the actual information that visitors probably went to the site to read or look for. It’s a good idea to also have a header at the top of each page, reminding guests of what site they’re looking at. The title should appear close to the top where it stands out from the content and navigation section. This should be the first thing they read as they enter new pages. As for navigational links, they should be easy to find, and consistent throughout the whole site. Just because you’re on a certain page doesn’t mean you cannot have a link to it in your navigation! It’s quite a nuisance to have the navigation bar’s links shift or switch places on every page. Navigation typically takes the form of a bar or strip of links near the top, or in a list along the side. These locations are ideal because the user will not have to scroll to find where they need to go. Now, your site visitors know what they’re looking at, where they are and where they can go. Mission accomplished.
However, getting around the site is only the beginning. The next step in a good design is the overall look and feel. Even if your site isn’t about something professional or business related, you at least want your visitors to think you’re intelligent and take you seriously. It’s not advisable to use gigantic, brightly colored font in all caps, even if it is for a title. It doesn’t take a lot to make something stand out. A simple change in color, or making something bold will do the trick quite nicely. An overuse of graphics, especially unrelated, is unnecessary, unpleasing and adds to the site loading time, as are songs or sounds playing in the background. Don’t waste your time! Simplicity really does work wonders. Keep it simple, but aesthetically pleasing.
Adding color is a great way to implement style or theme specific to your website’s content. For example, if your website is about plants or trees, using dark greens, browns and tan colors would create that smooth, nature-like feel. Play around with hues and shades to avoid using too much contrast. If this page you’re reading had a bright pink background with green text, it’s guaranteed that your eyes would not be very happy. At the same time, trying to read yellow text on a white background will also prove to be painful, even though they contrast less. The main factor to consider with color is whether or not your guests can read the text against your chosen background without straining their eyes. They’ll remember the site, but want nothing to do with it ever again.
Before you begin a website, take a look at some others and evaluate their layout and color choice. See what works and what doesn’t and use your discretion to pick up some new ideas. Keep in mind that consistency is a key term in a website. What’s more bothersome than having only navigation links switch places between pages is having the entire layout seem like its thrown into a blender on each click. Keep everything but the page content and titles the same throughout the entire site and it will be a breeze for users to navigate. Make their first impression a positive one, and they will be more likely to refer your site to others and revisit it themselves.