When it comes to web design there are always new tricks to learn; however, what sometimes gets lost along the way is the importance of simplicity.
Simple websites are easy to build, easy to maintain, relatively simple to update when Google algorithms change and, most importantly, easy for customers to use. What are the most important things to consider when building a website?
- Start from the basics. The first thing to ask is how many levels of content the site really needs. Most business pages work well with just the homepage at the top level, followed by department pages (ideally linked from the top of the homepage), followed by product pages. Sometimes a single product page will be linked from more than one department page, and product pages may also link; for example, when accessories are recommended to complement a purchase.
- Understand user priorities. What do users want when they visit the site? In most cases users will prioritize finding information on products that interest them. Some will simply want to find the products quickly in order to purchase, and some may need a good search system to take them back to items they have looked at before. Others will just want to browse through categories and see what looks appealing.
- Double up on keywords. In a tight structure there is no room for extensive paragraphs of SEO content, and they are not necessary. Keywords will do even more to impress search engines if they are built into the structure by being used as page headings and as anchors for links, and by appearing in URLs. A good website may not look complex on the surface, but everything is doing more than one job.
- Use sidebars and footers. Instead of making users dig for vital information, keep it where they can see it at a glance. Depending on the focus of the site, this could mean contact information, accepted credit cards, or delivery options.
- Keep mobile in mind. Accommodating mobile users is now essential to successful online trading. As a rule, simple sites are more likely to be mobile friendly; however, it is still important to make sure that elements will scale effectively and move when necessary.
A simple site is not the same thing as a lazy site – good design always requires careful planning.