WordPress Web Design 101: 10 Do’s and Dont’s for Beginners
I visit a lot of websites every week. For the most part, the majority of them are well put together. Others…not so much.
I get it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But…in the world of web design, there is one rule that I try to stick to when I am designing websites for my clients. And it’s pretty much this:
I don’t know about you but I have heart palpitations whenever I visit a website where there is too much going on.
You know…sites that have a gazillion pop-ups, flash, animations, videos that show up out of nowhere.
I don’t know what people think they are accomplishing with this kind of web design.
But in truth, it takes away from a visitor’s web browsing experience and will drive them away from your site.
Case in point:
A few weeks ago, a business owner reached out to me asking for help with updating his website.
I headed over to take a peek at his current website. Sure enough, I was confused.
There was too much going on. The site’s design was all over the place, the text was hard to read and so forth.
What are the Characteristics of Good Web Design?
In my humble opinion, good web design is effective and leads visitors to a desired action.
You can have the best looking website on the internet, but still have issues with conversions.
Your colors can look great together. But that doesn’t guarantee that it will produce any results for you or your business.
Which leads me to 3 characteristics of good web design:
- Function – meaning how well does your website work when visitors use it? Does it work as expected or are there some things broken? Is it easy to view on mobile devices?
- Usability – does your website make it EASY for visitors to take the desired actions that you want them to take? Or does the design leave people confused and not sure what to do next? Does it take forever for your site to load?
- Design – Is your website aesthetically pleasing? Is your branding consistent throughout the site?
My Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of WordPress Web Design
#1: Use a simplified navigation menu on your site
You don’t need 10 menu items on your website to make it functional. You only need around 5-8 max.
If you find yourself running out of room on your top level navigational menu, then use sub-menu’s to your advantage.
Here’s a perfect example from Mark Schaefer of BusinessesGrow.com. Mark’s top level menu only has 8 items on it.
As you continue to browse around his website and click on the menu items, you will see that they will take you to corresponding sub-menu items that you can navigate to.
#2: Use a consistent color scheme and design throughout your site
Using too many colors, fonts, and etc on your website can make it look amateurish. Whenever I work on a design project, I use a few colors consistently in the design and font choices too.
When I designed the Turns and Choices blog for my client Delandria, we worked together to choose a color combination that she loved and could use on her website.
I think the results are nothing short of amazing. The purple and oranges are used consistently throughout the site.
Goes to show…that you don’t need to use 10 different colors on your site to make it look good.
#3: Make it clear what you do and who you do it for
Ahh yes! This is one of the biggest web design mistakes that I see all of the time. Using brochure speak and “jargon” on a website is a huge no no.
Your goal is to make people want to feel like they are in the right place when they visit your website.
This is something that I helped a client with recently. Before, it was a tad bit difficult to understand who they were and what they did.
After the redesign, I wanted to make sure that when people landed on their site, that they knew what they specialized in helping businesses do.
#4: Use fonts that are easy to read
Have you ever seen an article on social media from a blog, clicked on it. Then when you landed on the blog to try to read the text , you felt like you needed a magnifying glass to do it?
In my humble opinion, font sizes (specifically for content) should be around 12px or so. It will make your content easier to read.
#5: Use high quality images on your site
There is nothing worse than going to a website and seeing fuzzy and blurry images, logo’s on it.
Anytime this happens, it means that your images are too small and you need to use a larger one so that it presents a better quality.
#1: Use too many colors that are distracting
Alright picasso….I love colors too and lots of them. But it doesn’t mean that I will use them on my website.
My rule of thumb for web design is 2-4 colors max. No more than that. Again, using too many colors is distracting and will cause sensory overload.
#2: Difficult Navigation
A few weeks ago I was on someone’s website trying to read an article. The post was great. So I started browsing around the website a little more but got frustrated super fast.
Because the navigation was terrible.
If you make it hard for people to find what they are looking for on your website, trust me, they will leave.
Simple as that.
What you can do is ask a few of your friends and peeps to take a test drive of your website and note the feedback. You would be surprised at what you find out.
#3: Cramming too much information on your home page
Your home page should serve one main purpose: to lead people to a desired action that you want them to take.
Please, don’t make the mistake of trying to cram too much information on it.
Think of it as a guide.
You are simply guiding people to take specific actions. Maybe it’s to click to read about the services you offer, or to call you for a consultation.
That’s pretty much it. Don’t go overboard with it.
#4: Flash animation (or sliders)
Flash animation went out a long time ago peeps. Google doesn’t like sites with flash and neither do I.
These days though, sliders have taken the place of flash animations. I’m not really a fan of them because they are friggin annoying!
Plus, did you know that using sliders lowers your conversion rates? Ouch!
Shane Melaugh and team from Thrive Themes had this to say about using sliders on websites:
Sliders to DO not make websites better. They make them worse, lower conversion rates, and make for a bad user experience.
I guess the short of it all is to avoid using them like the plague. I know that I do.
#5: Fonts that are difficult to read
I touched on this in one earlier but I felt like I needed to stress it. Don’t make it hard for people to read what’s on your site.
Cute fonts are great for headings and subheadings. But in your content — please don’t do use them.
As another reminder, try using fonts in your body and content that are at least 12pt in size.
Wrapping It Up
So what did you think about these tips? Are you committing any of these cardinal sins on your website?
Or..what is the one thing that irks you when visiting someone’s website? I’d love to know. Please leave your comments below.