When it’s time to think about web design and development one of the most important things to consider is how you are going to build a strong business website foundation. When hiring a web designer, here are the basics that you need to think about to form a foundation optimized for success:
Deciding on a Platform
When planning a new website design the first thing you need to choose is which platform you want to build your new or redesigned site on. Many businesses opt for easy-to-use DIY options that offer basic themes and drag-and-drop design, however if you're serious about driving traffic, capturing leads and converting customers you'll want to consider a custom website design. Not only will a website that is tailor-made for your business set you apart from the competition, it will allow you to add almost anything imaginable to your business website.
Although many of the DIY site builders create sites with mobile in mind, quite often it's hard (or close to impossible) to get your self-built website to look and feel exactly right on mobile devices. Because they have rigid structures that are set in stone there's little wiggle room for customization to add special features that look fantastic across all devices and ensure you stand out in a sea of sameness.
If you are considering a pre-built solution, WordPress is a fair bit more attractive than many other DIY web design platforms. It's used as a foundation for mobile-responsive websites by some of the world’s most respected names in business and government, including Mercedes-Benz and The White House. WordPress can be individualized to fit your style and branding, even if it doesn’t lend itself to full blown customization the way a wholly custom site would. One of the most attractive things about using WordPress is that there are 50,000+ plugins to choose from to enhance your website with a broad array of features and functions. Perhaps best of all, a lot of those plugins are free of charge or have a no-cost version that you can download, then try before you decide to buy them.
If you happen to run an e-commerce business, WordPress allows you to easily integrate the WooCommerce plugin to easily set up and manage your online store. Great for small and even mid-sized businesses, WooCommerce is customizable and allows you to add individual products or upload your entire product catalog to your business website. The downside to all of this, however, is that adding a lot of plugins and integrations can really slow down a WordPress site, increasing load times and ultimately frustrating users. The platform is a good choice for website owners on a budget, but if you really want to shine you should consult with an expert web developer to determine the right platform to handle your unique needs. You may discover that another platform like Laravel, Magento or something else entirely is really what you need.
Utilizing a Grid
Grid-based web design is the core of many websites, no matter which platform they're built on. Grids help keep design elements and content structured and organized, providing a strong foundation for your business website. In a nutshell, a grid is a series of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines that serve as the basic skeleton that web designers use to create websites. Grids can be organized in a variety of different column and row combinations, giving your site a unique and interesting feel. The best designs use grid patterns with important white space to avoid a cluttered feel and make content and images stand out.
Think about ways to jazz up your grid with images and text boxes of different size. This well help give your finished business website a more balanced and professional feel. Grids can also be altered to shine a spotlight on a specific piece of web content, or to emphasize your call-to-action or other important area of focus. Done right, grids can help to highlight certain elements you want to draw attention to, but when approached wrong an ill-conceived grid can make everything on your website pages look seriously out of place. The lesson here is clear: plan your layouts carefully.
Creating a Hierarchy
One of the most crucial aspects of creating a solid business website foundation is making sure that your site has a clear hierarchy. Ideally, your most important content should appear above the fold, before users start to scroll down. But hierarchies can also encompass web design elements like images, typography and color schemes. Just like most news sites use headlines and thumbnail images to provide tantalizing bits of their stories, your website can use its hierarchy to emulate them by using larger, bold fonts for titles above web copy so that users know exactly what your content will be about. Never overlook the importance of hierarchy in providing visual cues to steer users where you want them to go.
Hierarchy is vital if you happen to have a content-rich website. Think of it in terms of starting with the most crucial element that you want visitors to see. To make that element stand out, you can make it larger or use color or white space to make it pop. This way, anyone who visits your site will first see the large elements, which will help them to decide if they want to focus in on the smaller ones.
On the Dotlogics blog post you're currently reading, the first thing that you probably read was the headline “Important Aspects Of A Strong Business Website Foundation”, then your attention likely moved to the image, before finally starting to read the "meat" of the content (the blog post itself).
Although unglamorous and completely out-of-sight, the foundation is the most important thing to consider when planning and new website or redesigning an existing one. These important elements discreetly lay the groundwork for everything else that goes on your site. So give each of them careful thought to make sure that your business website presence sits on solid ground.