Web Design Best Practices: A Guide For Beginner’s

Title graphic for GrowSkills guide about web design best practices

In this guide for beginners, we are sharing our web design best practices to help you get the most out of your business website.

Set A Primary Goal

When building a new website, or improving your existing website, it is important to establish what it is that you want to achieve with the website.

Are you aiming to modernise your web presence and increase brand awareness? Do you need to drive people to your website to gain more leads? Or would you like to get more online sales?

Having a goal will help you when it comes to prioritising key pages, writing content and creating CTA’s (call to actions).

Choose A Colour Scheme That Fits Your Brand

The colours you choose will play a big part in whether or not a web user stays on your website.

Studies show that web users form an impression of your website within milliseconds of clicking through to it. If they immediately find the colours unattractive or distracting, they are unlikely to stay on your website.

We recommend sticking to 2-3 primary colours. These colours should fit your brand well. Try to go for colours that don’t clash.

McDonald’s, for example, have chosen the iconic yellow and red colours for their website. They have also added black. Those three colours immediately make the website look “on brand” and it is unmistakably McDonald’s.

Image from McDonald's website demonstrating use of colours
McDonald’s Website

High contrasting colours (such as black writing on a white background) are best as they are easier to read and make your website more accessible.

And don’t shy away from white spaces. Some of the best websites will have plenty of white spaces as this encourages the web visitor to focus their attention on certain aspects of the page, such as the text or elements.

Use A Similar Theme Throughout

Aside from the colour scheme, your website’s theme should also be consistent throughout. The theme relates to how your website looks.

It includes the layout, placement of content, images, videos and buttons as well as other design elements.

Popular web builders, such as WordPress, usually have a range of themes to choose from. Once you have chosen a theme, it makes it much easier to organise the layout of your web pages and add elements, such as content, to them.

Having the same theme on each page will ensure your website design flows well and looks professional.

Simplify The Navigation

The navigation of your website is basically a list of links that lead to your web pages. Good website navigation allows visitors to easily flow from one page to another.

It also enables them to find the page and information they need quickly and easily.

Your primary navigation should be visible on every page and is usually placed along the top (think of it as the website header). It is best practice to have no more than 7 links on the primary navigation bar. These tend to be your most-visited pages and typically include:

  • Home
  • Services (or Products)
  • About Us
  • Contact Us
  • Blog

Other popular links often found on the primary navigation include:

  • Shop (If your website includes an online shop/e-commerce element)
  • Book Now (ideal for businesses that have appointments/reservations)
  • Find Your Nearest… (when businesses have multiple locations)

Alternatively, if you only have one or two core services, these may be included on the primary navigation link. For example, if a cleaning business offers domestic cleaning and office cleaning, they may include those two links on the navigation bar at the top of the page.

The less popular (yet still important) stuff can then be added to a navigation bar in the footer of the website. This includes:

  • Terms & Conditions
  • Privacy Policy
  • Help Centre
  • Careers

Start With Key Pages

In the future, your website may be a huge fountain of information with lots of pages that deep dive into each of your services.

It may have pages dedicated solely to each team member, case studies and the history of your business.

But when you are just starting out, it is best to focus on the core pages. These tend to be the pages you will find on the primary navigation i.e. home page, About page, contact page, services page. Building a website takes time and knowledge.

It is better to spend longer perfecting and optimising your core pages before adding more pages to your website.

Begin With SEO In Mind

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising a website so that it can be found on search engines (such as Google and Bing). SEO includes a range of tactics.

It is much easier to implement these tactics AS you are building the website, rather than building the website and then going back to optimise it all.

To ensure your website can be found of Google by your target audience, you should focus on:

  • User Experience – the website should load quickly and be easy for visitors to use and navigate.
  • Mobile-Friendly – the website should look and perform well on mobile devices and tablets as well as desktop devices.
  • Keyword Optimisation – Keywords are the words and phrases that your target audience use when searching for the services and products you provide. When someone uses these words and phrases, you want your website to appear on the search engine results pages. To do this, your keywords should be strategically placed throughout your website.
  • Internal Links – your web pages should include links that take the visitor to other important pages on your website.
  • Headings – Each webpage should have an H1 tag (think of this as the title), which should immediately give away what the page is about. It should also include the keyword. There should also be other headings (H2, H3 tags etc.) that break the page up into sections and make it easier to read and navigate.
  • Meta Title/Description – The meta title is the title of the webpage that displays in the Search Engine result snippets as well as the page’s tab in the browser. The meta description is the small snippet of text that is displayed below the page title on the search engine results page.

Below is an example of the meta title and meta description for MAC Cosmetics.

Image of MAC Cosmetics meta title and description as shown in Google SERPS
MAC website displayed in Google’s search engine results page

Using a website plug-in, such as Yoast SEO, will make it easier to improve the SEO of your website. Especially if you are a beginner.

Have Quality Content

If you take anything from this web design best practices guide let it be this… quality content is SO IMPORTANT when designing a website.

Each webpage should have at least 300 words of high-quality content. Website content should be to the point with very subtle sales messaging throughout. It should also be written in the same tone of voice throughout your website.

Webpage content should be written in short, snappy sentences and separated into small paragraphs. Headings should be used to break up the text where possible. Webpage content should be grammatically perfect with no spelling mistakes – first impressions count!

It should also include internal and external links. Internal links will take the visitor to other pages on your website and external links will take the visitor to external websites that are relevant to your business.

Stick To No More Than 3 Fonts

Using multiple fonts on your website will make it look messy and unprofessional. It will also make it harder for accessibility tools, such as screen readers, to interpret the text. Sticking to no more than 3 fonts is always best.

Add High-Quality Images

Your web pages should include images to illustrate your products and service. However, the images you choose must be high-quality images that are correctly sized.

Incorrectly sized or low-quality images may slow the loading speed of your website and might mess up the layout of the page.

If you do not have professional, high-quality imagery of your business, products or team members – you could use royalty-free images. These are available to download from websites such as Unsplash, Pixabay and Shutterstock.

Ensure Every Pages Has A Call To Action

Each core webpage should include a call to action prompting the visitor to take the next step. For example, this could be downloading a brochure, getting in touch with your team or signing up for your newsletter.

Example of call to action on GrowTraffic website
GrowTraffic Call To Action

Add Customer Testimonials

Client testimonials and customer reviews are the best types of marketing materials. Studies show that 72% of consumers will trust a business more after reading positive reviews. And 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Having a client testimonial or customer review on your web pages will encourage potential customers to trust your business and may sway them to take positive action.

Need More Help?

Web design may seem confusing but we hope our beginner’s guide to web design best practices has helped you make sense of it a little better. If you need a little help from the marketing experts at GrowSkills, don’t hesitate to get in touch.