Website Design Requirements
Here we comes to Website Design Requirements as we expect you have read our blog on Website Design Guidelines, so here we continue our learning towards our goal of website designing
- Header and Footer
- Menu Navigation
- Search Bar
- Colour Palette
- Clear Labels
- Visuals and Media
- Calls to Action (CTAs)
1. Header and Footer
Our first Website Design Requirement, The header and footer are a staple of just about every modern website. Try to include them on most of your pages, from your homepage, to your blog posts, and even your “No results found” page.
Your header should contain your branding in the form of a logo and organization name, menu navigation, and maybe a CTA, and/or a search bar if well-spaced and minimal. On the other end, your footer is where many users will instinctively scroll for essential information. In your footer, place contact information, a signup form, links to your common pages, legal and privacy policies, links to translated versions of your site, and social media links.
2. Menu Navigation
Whether it’s a list of links across the header or a tidy and compact hamburger button in the corner, every website needs a guide for navigation positioned at the top of at least your homepage and other important pages. A good menu limits the number of clicks to reach any part of your website to just a few.
To reduce clutter, you might consider making some or all menu options a dropdown menu with links within it, as can be seen on HubSpot’s homepage.
3. Search Bar
In addition to menu navigation, strongly consider placing a search bar at the top of your pages, so users can browse your site for content by keyword. If incorporating this functionality, make sure your results are relevant, forgiving of typos, and capable of approximate keyword matching. Most of us use a high-quality search engine every day, be it Google, Amazon, YouTube, or elsewhere. These all set the standard for your own site search.
Remember the conventions we’ve discussed? One that you see practically everywhere is a logo in the top left corner. On first landing, many visitors’ eyes will instinctively shift to this region to check they’re in the right place. Don’t leave them hanging.
To reinforce this notion, incorporate your company branding into every element you add, piece of content you post, and color scheme you create. That’s why we recommend establishing brand guidelines if you haven’t already — check out our style guide for a reference.
5. Color Palette
Color choice plays a major role in your site’s usability and UX as well. This decision tends to be more subjective than other requirements in this list. But, like everything else we’ve discussed, try to simplify — limit your color selection to 3-4 prominent colors at most.
Starting a color palette from scratch can be surprisingly difficult the first time. We seem to intuitively pick up on which colors work well together and which don’t, but we stumble when trying to pick from the infinite combinations available.
The solution? Try a color palette that’s been shown to work on other websites. Take influence from your favorite sites, and see our list of our favorite website color schemes to get started.
Our next Website Design Requirement, Headings are key to establishing the visual hierarchy we discussed earlier, especially on text-heavy pages. As users skim your pages what you need, a clear and to-the-point heading alerts readers to stop scrolling after finding what they want. Use only as many headings as there are distinct sections of your page, as too much blown-up and bolded text will dampen this effect.
7. Clear Labels
Whenever a user takes an action on your website, it must be obvious exactly what they’re doing and/or where they’re going. All buttons should have clear text or an icon to precisely and concisely signal their purpose. The same goes for in-text links and widgets (simple interactive elements, like dropdowns and text forms).
For example, a button linking to a pricing page should just read “Pricing” — anything beyond that (e.g., “See our prices”, “Check out the pricing page for a deal”) is superfluous. A search bar/button only needs a search glass icon (🔍), and perhaps also the word “Search”, to denote its purpose.
User testing can be a major help here. While you yourself know what all of your interactive page elements do, the same can’t be said for a new user. Testing will give valuable insight into what users think your labels mean beyond your own perspective.
8. Visuals and Media
When incorporating static images, gifs, videos, and other media into your pages, remember to be consistent and intentional in your choices. These elements will draw attention over most other text and will likely stay in users’ minds, so choose wisely.
Here’s just one example of effective media on a homepage. Notice how every image complements the page aesthetic and supports the offer of personalized fitness training with results.
Also, all images and videos should be optimized for search engines and include descriptive alt text for accessibility.
9. Calls to Action (CTAs)
Having a pleasing website is great, but how do you know whether your visitors are actually doing what you want? Are they engaging with your content? This is where CTAs come into play.
A CTA is any page element that prompts user action. The action could be adding a product to a card, downloading a content offer, or signing up for an email list. Make your CTA elements prominent in the visual hierarchy (remember our Spotify example), but not intrusive or distracting like many click-through ads tend to be.
If you need ideas for sleek CTAs that drive more conversions, see our CTA examples list.
As mentioned above, sometimes it’s about the elements you don’t include. After reading these guidelines and requirements, you may feel tempted to stuff your pages with all the bits and bobs needed for a flawless UX. Don’t forget that your viewers need room to digest all this new info, so give your elements room to breathe.
But, how much whitespace should you have? That’s another personal call, and varies from site to site. So, user testing is handy here as well. What are people focusing on? Do they feel overwhelmed with the density of content? Once again, it all ties back to our first guideline, simplicity.
Design that Puts Users First
Indeed, web design is largely subjective — your website’s look and experience isn’t going to please everyone. However, there are also tried-and-true UX principles that, when carefully considered and incorporated, help visitors feel more at home.
According to Amazon Web Services, 88% of website visitors are less likely to return to a website after a poor experience. And how could you blame them? We’ve surely all been there.
So, as a final bit of usability/UX wisdom, start caring more! Imagine yourself into the shoes (or, more accurately, browser windows) of your visitors, and keep them in mind every step of the design process.
The Next step is Website Design Best Practices.