Key Elements for a Successful Website Design

As a business owner, you want your website to tell your story correctly and efficiently. Here are a few key elements you should know when designing a website for your company.

1 | Searchable

Search Engine Optimization is very important for any website. Make sure your designer is knowledgeable on SEO topics and how to lead potential customers to your website. Make sure the site isn’t all imagery and the text on the site contains keywords you think your customers will search for to find you. The more you use those keywords the better! When using images, make sure they contain alt tags with those important keyword in them as much as possible. These help spiders (search engines) find your site. Using flash? Make sure and use it in a minimal amount. Spiders (at this point in time) cannot crawl flash areas. Keep this in mind when working with a designer.

SEO References & Articles 55 Quick SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love 10 Fundamental Tips to Improve your SEO

2 | Easy to read

Hard to Read Type | Improve your website design

Make sure your site is readable, not everyone has 20/20 vision or the knowledge to increase their font sizes, especially if the text is in an image. San-serif fonts such as Helvetica/Verdana/Arial are preferable for body text. They are also great because they are easier to read at smaller sizes. Keep in mind text is also easier to read when you use dark type on a light background. Try and stay away from white text on black, especially when you have a large amount of body copy.

4 | Unique

“Simply because a style of design works for another company, doesn’t mean it will be appropriate for your business.”

A high-tech, glossed over approach could be appropriate for a computer company or perhaps a type of manufacturing business, but not so much for a family friendly one whose focus is on customer service. You want your company to be portrayed in it’s own unique way. Every business is different, even though their might be hundreds of business that sell the same products or services. How do you want your customers to feel when they see your website? Emotion is a big part of a company’s reputation. A great way to start building on it is your website, logo and other designs your customers see even before they meet you. Make sure you know who and what your company is all about before working with a designer. Establish your values and goals as a business.

5 | Logical Navigation

Make sure your website uses consistent navigation that stays in the same location no matter what page you visit on your website. Your web team/designer shouldtest your website with a group of different users in your target audience. Do they know where to look to find the information they are looking for? People are unpredictable and all think differently. To make your navigation as successful as possible, ask your test users similar questions to those below while walking them through a mock-up of your site (try paper mock-ups first before coding!)

1-Where would you click to find the contact information of this company?

2-Can you get through all the pages within the site without clicking the back button on your browser?

3-Do you know what page your on at all times? (Does each page have logical titles?)

Successful Navigation Resources

Good Website Navigation: Reaching the Information Instantly

The Do’s & Don’ts of Website Navigation Usability

6 | Style Guides

When starting a new website design, you want to make sure you define your site’s theme and stick with it. A theme includes, but is not limited to: fonts, colors, sizes, layouts, etc. A great way to keep all of these elements the same across each page is to have what is called a style guide. It is very beneficial to have your designer create you a style guide when handing over the final set of files. This way, if you need to make updates or hire someone else to upkeep the website, they know exactly which fonts, colors and any other design guidelines to follow. The more consistency you have with these key elements, the more each page will carry your business identity. This should be one of your main goals of a successful website design.

7 | Loading Times

Waiting | Website Image Optimization

Flash can be a great asset to a website’s appearance. But it can also turn customers/viewers away in a matter of minutes. I absolutely hate waiting for flash websites to load. I want to see the content I was looking for as fast as possible. That is what the internet is for! Having to wait for a site to load gives me a similar feeling to trying to find a book in a library and it’s misplaced or unavailable. It’s just frustrating! Another issue to keep an eye on is image optimization. Your designer should be aware of this and use optimization for web options when they export your graphics. The larger your graphics files are, the slower your website will load. Design, in this area, has the chance to turn your customers away. Test on multiple computers and internet speeds when possible. Make sure your site runs smoothly and quickly, even with spiffy graphics!

Optimization Resource

Website Optimization: 13 Simple Steps

8| Know your Audience & Let it Show

Know your target audience | Utilize hobbies in your web design

“Maybe your selling tights on your apparel website, perhaps your target audience enjoys dancing and you didn’t think to consider it when designing. Don’t leave anything characteristic out!”

When designing a website, it is important to first define your target customer and their likes and dislikes. Detirmine who would use your services and what a typical customer would act like or prefer when it comes to your website design. Here are a few questions to answer about your target audience:

1-Age (This will help you define sizing of text, style of graphics, and type of language used in the copy of your new website.

2-Location (This can assist you with a color scheme and a style of graphics depending on the part of town the business is located in etc.

3-Likes & Dislikes (Speak with your customers, ask them about themselves, try surveying them to find out what types of activities they enjoy. These can help define many characteristics of your website’s design as well.)

9 | Easy to Maintain

One of the more common requests I receive from my clients is to create a website that they can easily maintain and update. This can be a challenge for many solo designers as this is when a CMS could come in handy and usually this takes a good developer/programmer by your side to do the dirty work. A CMS allows you and your client to easily update and maintain their website once it is live. Keeping fresh content on your website is another great way to increase your site’s SEO as well.  If your client has a smaller budget, there are many free CMS options out there that allow for complete web design customization. Take a peek at these:

LightCMS | Web CMS allows for custom web design

Joomla | CMS for Websites


Hope you enjoyed these website design tips! Reminder, keep an eye out for a guide on how to create a style-guide for your website!

Have anything to add? I want to hear what you have to say.  Feel free to leave a comment.

Sarah Shuda
Sarah Shuda
Designer. Mom. Wife. Loves Gilmore Girls, healthy living, and long walks in the country.