9 Guidelines and Best Practices for Outstanding Web Design and Usability
It’s easy for people to get distracted by the aesthetics when redesigning or designing a website. Is that the right shade of blue? Is the logo on the right or left side of the screen? What if the GIF was a huge animated GIF?
In a world with more websites than possible, it is important to ensure your website is not just a pretty one. It should be easy to use and enjoyable to interact with.
You could spend many years learning the details of these subjects. But, for your website redesign, or website launch, here are some basic guidelines and best practices that you can use. Next, we’ll discuss 10 features that your site will need to implement these recommendations. Let’s get started.
It is important to plan intuitive navigation for your website in order to make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for. Visitors should be able to land on your site without having to worry about what to do next. It should be as easy as possible to move from one point to the next.
These are some tips to optimize your site’s navigation
Your primary navigation should be simple and at the top of your page.
Add navigation to the footer of your website.
Use breadcrumbs on every page, except your homepage, to help users remember their navigation trails.
A search bar should be placed near the top of your website so that visitors can search for keywords.
Do not offer too many navigation options per web page. Again, simplicity!
Incorporate links into your page copy and clearly indicate where they go.
Do not make your users go too far. Make a simple wireframe map that shows all of your website pages. The pyramid is where your homepage is located, with each link page being the next. It is best to limit your map to three levels in most cases. HubSpot’s sitemap is an example.
Another tip: After you have settled on the main navigation (top) for your site, make sure it remains consistent. Your navigation labels and locations should be the same on each page.
Your site’s overall design should not only be consistent in navigation but also the look and feel across all pages. Consistency has a positive effect on usability and UX.
This doesn’t mean that every page must follow the same layout. You should instead create different layouts for certain types of pages (e.g. landing pages, informational, etc.). You’ll make it easy for visitors to see what information is on each page by using the same layouts.
The example below shows that has the same layout for all its “Help” pages. This is a common practice. Think about what it would look like for visitors if each “Help” page had a unique layout. It would likely cause a lot more shoulder shrugging.
According to Statista, 48% of page views worldwide were from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. According to our research, 93% of people have abandoned a website due to it not being displayed properly on their devices.
This is the key takeaway: Your site must be compatible with all devices your visitors use. This is responsive design in the tech world.
A responsive design is about investing in a flexible website structure. A responsive website automatically adjusts the content to suit the size of any device. You can achieve this by using mobile-friendly HTML templates or creating a mobile site.
It’s worthwhile to test the compatibility of your website across multiple browsers in addition to mobile-friendliness. Most likely, you have only visited your website once, whether it’s Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.
This is the time to test how elements look on each browser. The difference in the presentation should not be significant, but it’s best to see the results yourself.
Web accessibility means that any person can access a website, even those with disabilities. It is your responsibility as a web designer to consider these users when creating your UX plan.
Accessibility, like responsiveness, applies to all aspects of your site, including structure, page format, and visuals as well as written and visual content. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative. They also serve as guidelines for web accessibility. These guidelines, in a broad sense, state that websites should be:
PerceivableVisitors know what content you have on your site.
Operable Your website’s functionality should be available in a variety of ways.
Understandable All alerts and content can be understood easily.
Robust Your website can be used across different assistive technologies and browsers.
This Ultimate Guide to Web Accessibility will provide a deeper dive into this topic.
The preferences of end-users are the most important factor in usability and user experience. If you aren’t designing for them, then who are you designing to?
These principles are a good starting point. However, it is important to do user testing and gather feedback before making any changes.
Don’t forget to test usability yourself. Your design has been a long time in the making, so you have your biases. Test your site with people who have never been there before.
These are some user-testing tools that can help you get started.
Website Grader This tool is free and evaluates your website on the basis of several factors, including mobile, design, performance, security, and SEO. The tool then makes recommendations for improvements. You can read more about Website Grader in our dedicated blog post.
Crazy Egg Track multiple domains from one account to uncover insights about site performance using four intelligence tools: heat map, scroll map, overlay, overlay, and confetti.
Loop11 – This tool allows you to quickly create usability tests, even if your HTML knowledge is minimal.
The User is Drunk Hire Richard Littauer to get drunk and then review your site. Do you doubt me? We tried.
You can find even more useful options in our list of user testing tools.
These guidelines should be helpful in forming the structure of your website and web pages. How can you put these guidelines to use? Let’s look at some practical best practices that you can use during the design process.