When it comes to design, looks, style or whatever you wish to call it there is only one truth - beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is true for all fashion, what I will like you may not or what you may like your friend may not. Because of this you can never have a website which will appeal to everyone so more importantly than design is user experience.
When starting to design a website it is always best to start with what its job will be. Once we have a firm understanding of what the purpose of the website is the basic structure of a website design should start to develop itself.
Once you’re armed with the understanding start to research other websites which will offer either the same or similar services / products to you. Get a feel for not the looks but instead the user experience. Make notes of things you like and dislike, things you could improve on etc. This research is key to your website success as these websites probably already target your customer base.
Giving a user a better website experience is more important than how your website looks, after all looks really come down to what colours we choose, and how we choose to use them together. Yes there are little more things like shapes, images, 3d effects and shadows but all these things should pale into insignificance when compared to your customer experience.
You will find that a customer with a great user experience is more likely to warm to your overall website design / theme than a customer who has a negative user experience.
Building your websites in this manor will also provide the foundation for better SER’s.
So thus far we have not really talked too much about design, that’s because there isn’t too much to say. The most important aspect of your design is to keep as much actual styling out of the core code and instead keep the styling within the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). This form of design will enable faster loading WebPages and making changes to the look of either an individual element or the entire website less of a challenge. Stick to W3C best practices to ensure maximum compatibility across multiple platforms, and steer clear when possible of browser specific hacks.
Don’t get hooked on trying to make your website stand out from the rest in the looks department, you will never win. The human race is fickle when it comes to style & design so a better user experience will win over looks every time. Don’t change your website design to often and when you do change it try to make the changes subtle as many internet users fear change.
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