When creating a website, you need to keep your visitors foremost in your mind. Remember: You are not your user. You are more familiar with your business than any visitor ever will be. To ensure you don’t confuse your website visitors, you need to conform to standards of website design. This ensures that people know what to do when they visit your site for the first time and during subsequent visits. Users should never have to ask the following questions:
- Where do I start?
- Why did they call it that?
- Can I click on that?
- Where is the navigation?
If they are confused or lost, the “back” button is their gateway to thousands (if not millions) of other sites that can provide them with the answers they are looking for.
Web standards are not meant to be confining. You can still express your individuality within these guidelines. Standard items include:
- Easy-to-read content
- Your logo linked to your home page in the upper left corner
- A phone number that is easy to find
- Visited links that show as a different color
What Makes Content Easy to Read?
First, your content needs to be readable. You need high contrast between your text color and your background color. The best option is having black text on a white background. For example:
This is easy to read.
This is much more difficult to read.
Next, keep in mind that reading on the web is 25% slower than reading on paper, and most people are scanning content. They very rarely read each word. To make it as easy as possible for your visitors to consume the information they want, break up the content into small chunks. Use signposts—headlines, enumerated lists, etc.—which are signals that the content is important. Other signposts might include links and bolded words.
Keep your logo small and in the upper left corner of your site. Your logo is a visual indicator to users that they are in the right place. By keeping it small, you can focus attention on what you want your users to do instead of who you are. Web conventions dictate that your logo link back to your home page. This provides your visitors an easy way to “start over.”
When you talk to your current clients and soon-to-be clients, listen to how they talk, what questions they ask you, and the words they use. This is the point-of-view you need to have when creating content.
This may seem obvious, but your phone number needs to be easy to find and easy to read. Users expect to find your number in the upper right hand corner. Keep it high contrast. A red phone number may be easy to find for many people, but the contrast is lost if your visitor is color blind.
Do link colors needs to be blue? Not necessarily. Users have become accustomed to seeing links in many different colors, underlined and not underlined, and highlighted in yellow. However, links on your site need to be consistent. They need to have the same look and feel on ALL of your pages. Don’t frustrate your visitors by changing conventions based on a whim.
Previously visited links need to be a different color. If a link looked of value one time, it will most likely look of value the second and third time a visitor sees it. By indicating a link has been visited, your user will know they’ve already consumed the content on that page.
For more guidelines, please review our “Usability and Design” checklist, or reach out to our friendly attorney website design team today at 888-886-0939.