First impressions go a long way, and that applies to your website too.
If it looks dated, visitors might think you’re behind in more ways than one. If it’s too trendy, you run the risk of not being taken seriously.
So what’s just right? A timeless design that is clean and focused on usability. These guidelines will help you get your site in that sweet spot.
5 Best Practices for Designing a Timeless Website
1. Standard Design Features
We’re not saying you want your website to look like everyone else’s, which certainly won’t help it stand out. Instead, you should embrace a typical approach to design to make it easier to navigate.
For starters, your business’s logo should be at the top so that guests know they’ve come to the right place. Make it clickable so that it doubles as an easy way to get to the homepage.
Next, make sure you have a contact button, which is often in the top right corner of the page, so that potential clients know how they can reach you. If they have to go searching for a phone number or email address, they might just move on to the next option.
Be sure to keep navigation at the top of the page horizontally, making it a cinch to browse your site. A key function to include here is a search feature; whether it’s a box or icon, this will make it easier and faster for those perusing. For sites that are packed with content, this is typically the most used design element. It’s also a great cheat for websites that aren’t organized that well — though that’s something you should fix ASAP!
However, if your site doesn’t have a large amount of content, this isn’t always necessary. To curate a customer list and stay in touch with your base, have a signup box in the footer where people can subscribe to email updates.
Tip: For more navigation tips and tricks, read Navigation, The Secret Weapon to Web Design.
2. A Strong Home Page
You only have a few seconds to grab people’s attention, so make sure your home page is working hard. The landing site should have it all: a visually appealing design with strong images that deliver your message clearly; well-written and captivating text to get your mission across; and a clean, obvious path for navigation.
Make your homepage as tailored as possible so visitors feel that they’re getting to know you.
Additionally, have a call-to-action button up front to encourage engagement. For example, “buy now” can lead to your e-commerce page or “learn more” could bring users to a page where they can sign up for your newsletter.
3. Include Social Media Icons
The footer of your site is typically the best place to include the signature icons that link to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media platforms.
Practically a standard design element these days, social icons are crucial for showing customers another side of your business. Keep in mind that your Facebook page or Twitter handle can say just as much about your business as your website can.
Tip: Not sure how to get started with your social media strategy? Start with Grow Your Small Business Through Social Media.
4. Use Responsive Design
It’s important to remember that not everyone will be visiting your site on a computer, so be sure that it works equally well on phones, tablets, and other devices. In fact, last year Google confirmed that more searches on their site took place on mobile devices than computers in the U.S. and nine other countries. In general, mobile now takes up 65 percent of all digital media time.
Adapting to being mobile friendly after a site has already been built is tricky, but worth the time and effort. WordPress offers plenty of mobile-friendly themes to choose from, making it a cinch to integrate. For new sites or ones that are about to launch, keep mobile devices in mind when designing and programming.
5. Build a Brand
A website is a key component of any brand, so be sure your website’s design gets your message across, whatever that may be. Another angle to keep in mind is staying consistent, so that can mean making sure the fonts and colors are the same as on your business cards.
Color palettes, fonts, and the tone of voice are different for every business and site, so think those through. Also, create a style guide so that your text is consistent and has a point of view. Images are a natural way to add visual interest and get the aesthetic across.
Tip: Design choices may seem trivial, but you need to take them seriously. They can have a big impact on your bottom line.
These guidelines are the basics to getting started on building a great site. But if you’re still unsure of your web savvy, a tool like MOJO Marketplace‘s premium website themes can do the heavy lifting for you. After all, you have a business to grow.
Celia Shatzman is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. She has written about everything from travel to fashion, beauty, finance, health, fitness, and entertainment.