When you’re just getting started online, setting up your free WordPress site and seeing your site’s header live on the web feels like one of the greatest achievements in the world. Although pretty much anyone with an Internet connection can get their hands on a domain nowadays, being able to open a website easily doesn’t mean that having a website is.
For those who aren’t familiar with the field, “web design” signifies nothing more than the colors of the themes that they can select from the WordPress gallery. In reality, web design encompasses all of the aspects that your site needs in order to achieve its purpose. The “purpose” will differ for everyone; bloggers may want people to follow them and comment on their posts, while businesses want a website that attracts attention, has sharable content that boosts brand image and converts visitors into paying customers.
Web design accomplishes all of this. Apart from the layout and color schemes, a web designer is tasked with making sure that your web site is optimized for its intended use and that it effectively communicates who you are and what you’re all about to anyone who visits in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
You may not have the budget to hire a professional designer or just don’t feel the need to at this point, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be schooled on the features every website should have. Let’s take a look at the top three crucial web design mistakes that new website owners make and how you can fix them to make your site its best.
1. Using a Non-responsive Theme
You may see advertisements for “responsive” themes all the time, but do you have any idea what they actually mean? Despite what the name implies, a responsive theme has nothing to do with what your users can do with it while they’re on the desktop version of your site. In web design, responsive refers to sites that are optimized to provide the best possible user and viewing experience across a variety of devices.
Given that 40 percent of users browse the Internet on their smartphones or other mobile device, it’s vital to have a site that is just as appealing and viewable in any form. Many times new web designers will pick a theme without realizing that when someone accesses their url via their phone, images can become improperly scaled, half the design features can disappear and that text is difficult to read. In the worst-case scenarios, sites are almost completely un-navigable for mobile users.
If someone visits your site on their computer and has a great experience, they probably would not hesitate to click on one of your social media links or come back on their own later using a mobile device. Turn that situation around though and imagine someone has visited your site on mobile and can’t explore half the site due to its unresponsive design. Although some may go the extra mile and look you on their computer, the majority will simply leave and find a site that is able to give them the experience they want.
2. No Search Box
Most website themes don’t come with a search box built in and website owners already know where their content is so they don’t even think of adding one. After all, what’s the point if you have tags and categories, right? Wrong. A search bar allows a visitor to find exactly what they’re looking for within seconds of clicking on your page. Just having a search box enabled is only the beginning, since it also needs to be positioned and scaled largely enough that it’s clearly visible from the instant someone accesses your home page.
Many website owners with products to offer have search boxes that are small and wedged into the upper right hand corner of their site. This may be located after someone takes the time to look for it, but the goal behind good web design is to provide users with an effortless, seamless web experience from start to finish. This means that they should simply think of searching for something and be able to click the box and type in a query, rather than having to actually stop their train of thought and scrutinize your site to find a way to search.
3. Poor Readability
There are some great fonts out there that you may be tempted to use all over your site, but unfortunately many of these do not bode well on viewers’ eyes. A large typeface like Google’s Lobster, for example, looks great on headings and even blog titles, but doesn’t work as well when it’s condensed and used for content.
If you want to keep people on your site, you need to make sure that your content is presented in a manner that’s easy on the eyes. Sans serif typefaces are the easiest to read, so strive for one of them as your display font and save anything bolder, more elaborate or ornate for headers and logo design.
All beginners will make web design mistakes, but the good news is that the majority of these are able to be corrected in one sitting. Although everyone’s website needs to be designed in order to fulfill their objectives, looking into the principles of good web design and making sure your site has all of the basics is a fantastic way to kick your web experience off to a great start.