Wed

01

Oct

2014

A Web Designer’s Tips for Your Best Website Yet

With the new Jimdo design and style options, you can choose pre-designed themes with a click and customize them to get the look you want. But sometimes the number of possibilities can be daunting. At Jimdo, we believe that you shouldn’t have to be a web designer to have a beautiful and polished website….but that doesn’t mean we can’t ask a professional web designer for advice every once in a while!

 

A Web Designers Tips

 

We asked Joern Schreiber, a web designer at Jimdo, for his favorite web design tips, and the common mistakes that could cost you visitors (hint: make sure your text is readable!).

 

Why should an average Jimdo user care about web design?


Web design is the means to present yourself, and your business, online. A website is a kind of calling card, and its design says a lot about you. How committed or professionally engaged are you in your business? Do you focus on details? Do you love what you do?

 

If you want to sell a product online, the purchase decision is unfortunately not always dependent on the quality of the product, but rather on its visual presentation. So any successful website needs to have a “feel good” factor for visitors, and that’s where good web design comes in.

 

What are some things to keep in mind before you start building your website?


Before you start, think about what you want your site to accomplish and especially who you want to reach. It sounds obvious, but many people skip this step and get into difficulty later on because they’ve built a site that doesn’t fit what they want to do.

 

Next, get a sense of the content your website is going to have, because this will help you choose the right layout or template. For example, photos need a lot of space to get the right effect, and should be given a wider content area on the website. With a blog, the readability is paramount, so you may want to have larger content areas for text.

 

Always remember that the attention span of your visitors is limited, so you shouldn’t overwhelm them. This begins with the content. You should only show things that are important and useful for visitors on each page. Also think about what will go in your navigation bar or sidebar—can you fit the links on a horizontal navigation without it wrapping to a second line?

 

How do you recommend approaching colors and fonts?


Here the motto is "less is more." It’s best to limit yourself to two fonts that you can use again and again. The same goes for colors. Choose one main and one or two accent colors, as opposed to a colorful rainbow design.

 

When choosing the colors and fonts, think about options that reflect your industry and personality. A business website is likely to use different colors and fonts than a DIY blog, for example. For fonts, pay attention to readability and expressiveness, like playful or severe, solid or slim.

 

Similarly-structured content should be presented in the same way. Develop design patterns and use them consistently, like always using the same heading font. This makes it easier for a visitor to take in the information, because they recognize the pattern you have established.

 

An example of Pacifico font. "Decorative fonts are usually difficult to read unless they are used in small doses," says Joern. In this example from Google Hangouts, the decorative handwriting font Pacifico is a small design element, paired with a more readable sans serif font called Open Sans. It has personality but is still easy to read. The green call-to-action button ("Get Hangouts") is clear and visible.

 

What are some common mistakes you see?


People often neglect the readability of the text on their website, but it’s extremely important for good website design. Think about size, spacing, and contrast. The font size should be at least 16px. Line spacing should be generous (1.5 is the norm).

 

Contrast is very important for readability. There’s a reason books have been printed since time immemorial with black ink on white paper. Look at your text on different screens and devices to make sure everything is visible.

 

A few other issues I see a lot:

  • Too much content on a page. Reading on the screen is tiring and people have short attention spans. Remember to put the most important information at the top of the page, and get rid of unnecessary stuff.

  • Too many colors. Less is more! Don’t get carried away with color, because it can be distracting.

  • Overusing decorative fonts. Decorative fonts (handwriting, comic, poster type) are usually difficult to read unless they are used in small doses. They are best for design elements or headers. Use traditional serif or sans serif fonts for the bulk of your text.

It is also helpful to show your website to your friends and ask for honest feedback. Ask them to read your text and make sure they don’t miss anything. Get their impressions of how your site looks. They want you to be successful, so they’ll be happy to help!