Key principles for great website design: part 1

In this blog, continuing with the technology theme, I look at some of the crucial design guidelines for a really fantastic website. A website that ensures repeat customers and higher sales.

I have already talked about brand culture and the importance of your company values and you can read more about that here.
If you haven’t thought about your brand culture, I don’t personally think you can embark on the design of your website. This is because your website design needs to directly reflect and represent your brand values.

I believe there are 6 main principles to good website design

In this blog I look at the first three.

1. Understand your brand

With Jersey Beauty Company for example, we have a predominantly white site with lots of space and occasional colour. If we didn’t understand our brand, we could have a crazy colour scheme that may have worked well on a skateboard site, but not on a  beauty site.

We really wanted the design to amplify our values. So, we put ‘Help’ as the first link on the page because we really want customers to be able to contact us quickly and easily if necessary. So understanding who your are and what you are about is essential to the design process and getting that through into your website is critical.

2. Simplicity

Often, when it comes to your website, the biggest struggles are not with trying to understand what to put on your website, but more – what to keep off. What can you do to keep your site simple and clutter free?

Lets take Lings Cars for example, for me the site is just much to ‘crazy’. Granted it may be part of his branding – but would you feel confident leasing a car through this website?

Here’s another example: Arngren – yes I know your brain is bleeding from the concentration needed to read this page!

Now let’s look at Apple. Look at the simplicity of their site. It showcases their brand remarkably well. Everything is grey and the only colour is from the products themselves. Steve Jobs is often cited as ‘the dude’ when it comes to simplicity of design. His presentations were legendary, memorable and simple. He is quoted as saying: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” And for Apple that’s true. They took everything off the phone apart from the one button in the middle. Simple design that changed how the world used phones.

The same is true for your website design. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Matt Edmundson

3. Functionality

I don’t want to big up Steve Jobs too much, but he also said that “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.

So whilst, you have to keep the design simple, it has to stay functional. People have to be able to use your website easily and intuitively.* The simpler the structure of your site, the easier it is for users to navigate.*

Keep menus at the top and on the left – that is where people expect to find them. Keep checkout information on the right – that is where people expect to find it. If these items aren’t there because of your sexy design, then you are making the viewers work harder to find what they want. The bottom line – they buy less.

On the Jersey Beauty Company site, you will notice that we have a top menu for the key brands we sell, and then a search and category menu on the left for that brand. Our basic site structure has always been the same – menu on the top and category menu on the left and it has worked really well for us.

In my next blog I will continue to look at website design and unpack the next three fundamental principles for a great website.