Tech

Guide to good web design

Good website design should communicate your brand and online presence effectively.

There are so many dos and don'ts in web design and it is impossible to define them all as what might work on one site, doesn't necessarily work on another. We suggest that you make a note of sites that you like the look of as all this helps steer you and your designers in the right direction.

SMALL BUSINESS SITES

Check out some small business sites for advice and stories about other entrepreneurs. Smarta.com is a great resource for this, and a model website too, with lots of useful information and videos. Enterprisenation.com is good too, aimed at home businesses, with a ready made community of home workers.

HOMEPAGE

- Everyone is now using big images - ideally rolling over a number of images on homepages and less text. Check out glamour.com to see this at its best.
- White space on a site is important and it's best to limit the amount of colour used in the framework of the site. We have an aversion to purple and comic sans font at the GWG. Your designers will be able to advise on the best fonts to use on websites and comic sans definitely shouldn't be on the list.
- Help people to get to the page they want with the minimum number of clicks. Put relevant links in the menu toolbar along the top. notonthehighstreet.com is the perfect example of a website helping people reach the right pages quickly. Other useful links and SEO stuff can be placed towards the bottom of the page.

MAKE IT EASY

- It's important to have an area on 'About Us' so you can inject personality into a site. This is always the first place we look to when visiting a site.
- Have a page for contact details giving your full postal address and a landline number, delivery information with prices, if applicable.
- Have a press area with links to mentions in newspapers and on other websites, have links to pdfs of articles in magazines.
- Encourage visitors to sign up to your newsletters by offering special discounts to them and running competitions.
- Make sure that the payment process is easy, with as few steps as possible. Use a trusted online payment provider - such as RBS Worldpay or Venda. PayPal, although quite a few companies use this, can make the whole operation look a bit low key.

SEO

- The text on the homepage must use important keywords for search engine optimisation.
- Run a blog that you can link back into the site which all helps enhance natural seo.
- Write articles for other websites so that they can link back into your site, all of which should boost page ranking.

PRODUCT PAGES

- Use good quality images that you can either zoom into or open in a new window to enlarge, along with short but concise product descriptions.
- Have a section at the bottom of each product page giving your customers other suggestions as Amazon does, saying 'If you like this, you might also like our ...'

COMMENTS

- Get your customers to leave comments or reviews and put these on product pages if possible. This is also a good way to build your newsletter database and you could incentivise your customers by offering a prize to the best review.

SOCIAL MEDIA

- Put Twitter/Facebook/blog icons right at the top of the page, right across the site.
- Also give visitors the opportunity to tweet/add to Facebook from product pages. Make it nice and simple when they find products they like. notonthehighstreet do this using a widget called Addthis, the bookmarking and sharing service.

RAISE YOUR PROFILE

And of course, once you've got the site going, it's good to join a platform like the GWG that helps raise your profile, allowing you to leverage on existing communities which will in turn deliver new visitors and customers to your site.

5 May 2011