A professional website design overall is important, it’s the first impression. But what’s next?

A good design takes the professional “look” beyond the superficial and actually helps you accomplish your goals, from presentation to navigation and from content to functionality.

Compass Designs.net offered an excellent answer in the blog post Best Practices in Web Design (http://www.compassdesigns.net/joomla-blog/best-practices-in-web-design).

Within the big picture, as this post points out, your website should do two things, “Turn a stranger into a friend and a friend into a customer.” Compel people to your call to action.

And two, your website should cause something to happen.
Compass Designs listed four things:

1) go somewhere within the site.
2) allow permission for you to follow up by email or phone
3) click to buy something [or click to participate in your outreach effort (attend an event, sign a petition, read a document, etc…)].
4) tell a friend by sharing, blogging, phoning or otherwise talking about it.

And to help keep you focused this post points out that each draft of your web page should have these items listed at the top: Page Title, Viewer Response, and Content on page.

Content provided to the designer/developer for layout should be relevant and useful, should address the purpose of the page, your “viewer response.” And it is from this content the foundation of your website begins.

In website design speak you could also say: What do you want your user to see (read) first? What is the one and only goal users need to accomplish on that page and is the design of this page allowing users to easily accomplish this goal?

Content and design working in conjunction will help insure the user will find what they came for when visiting your website.

Remembering some basic web design principles will help you keep your users engaged:

  • Visually speaking your web page layout should make good use of contrast, proximity, alignment, web standards, and repetition.
  • Insure the color enhances the site and supports the brand, while also providing for a good contrast to read the content.
  • Make sure your most important information is above the fold, or at the top of the screen readable without having to scroll.
  • Following consistent alignment keeps your pages clean and easier to read. Keep the web page open or to say, leave “white space” so uers will see (read) your message clearly.
  • Each graphic serves a purpose to the content of the page and the alt tag is used effectively to describe context of image for assistive software (accessibility) and for web crawlers.
  • Images are optimized to not slow down page load times and if images or multimedia are used, alternate text is provide to convey the meaning.
  • Repeat your primary message on other parts of the pages, or related pages so as users move around your site, they remember why they first visited.

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Molding my "Approach to Art and the Written Word" by observing color and following light, form, and time. Always learning new ways of working and interacting within local and online communities. Taking in the sights and sounds and making notes.