WordPress is the most powerful content management system on the web. And although it’s not a perfect web development platform, it’s still possible to craft some incredible websites with it. Provided, of course, that you know what you’re doing.
See, when it comes to web design, first impressions are everything. A well-crafted website goes a long way towards attracting new clients to your brand. By that same vein, a poorly-designed one will inevitably turn people away.
So how do you ensure your site is the former rather than the latter.
A Simple Layout
There’s this thing called the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid. Basically, the idea is that whatever else you do with your website, you need to avoid anything extraneous. That includes both information and imagery.
“Simplicity in website design doesn’t necessarily equate with a minimalist design aesthetic,” reads a post by the Noupe Editorial Team. “Simple sites just remove all unnecessary elements from the design, content, and code. While minimalist sites generally fit this criteria, there are plenty of sites that wouldn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered “minimalist” that still fit the definition of simple.”
A simple site is easier to navigate, loads faster, and features content that’s more easily digestible. Not only that, simple design makes sites easier to both code and maintain. You’ve really no reason not to.
The mobile web isn’t going anywhere. I’m not going to bother flooding you with statistics – you’ve probably seen the same ones a thousand times already. What I will say is that you need to make sure your website is viewable and navigable on both desktop and mobile devices.
Mobile-friendliness is non-optional. The good news is that since you’re using WordPress, you actually have a ton of options to choose from as far as responsive themes are concerned. Find one that works for you.
The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words definitely holds true in web design. Whatever imagery you use on your site, quality is key. Don’t settle for low-grade stuff, and never use generic photos.
This applies to everything from inline photos to your sitemap.
“As you design your website, you might think that images are a “nice to have” element that don’t serve much of a purpose beyond looking good,” reads an article on the 360 Business Center. “But images on your website do so much more than paint a pretty picture … Effectively used, images can help drive more visitors to your website, promote social sharing and ultimately help drive business goals such as sales.”
The Right Fonts
Are you using Papyrus on your website? Have you made the mistakes of trying to use Impact? Worse, are you using Comic Sans?
The fonts you choose for your website have a huge influence on how your audience experiences it. You need to choose something that’s legible and pleasing to the eye. To that end, I’d recommend checking out WP Google Fonts – a plugin that adds Google’s font library to your WordPress site.
“Once upon a time, in my youth, I thought Papyrus was a great font,” writes designer Ravid Morgan. “Then I became a designer, and realized it’s not. Making great font choices is very important to the design, professionalism and above all else, the legibility of your site. If you want people to read your content — make it easy for them.”
Good Choice of Colors
Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks facing you as a web designer is choosing a good color scheme for your site. There’s a lot you need to understand in order to do so. Which colors best match your brand’s personality? Which colors complement those colors? Which colors present the mood that you want your audience to experience when they’re on your site?
“Picking and mixing color can be a tricky game,” writes The Website Builder Expert. “The result can look harmonious, or like a scene straight out of a horror film! The result can look harmonious, or like a scene straight out of a horror film! If you avoid any colors, your website can look uninspiring and forgettable. If you use too much color on your website, you risk making it look tacky.”
So, you’ve got a great website with a simple layout, great color choices, and high-quality visuals. That’s great – but what does sort of information does it contain? Without great content, even the best-designed website is little more than form without substance.
“Good content is what sets your website apart from the masses and delivers the right message into the hearts and minds of your customers,” writes Andrew Kucheriavy of Intechnic. “The success of your website is determined primarily by its content…All other components of your website (design, visuals, videos, etc.) provide a secondary support role. If you have effective taglines, great design will only enhance their effectiveness. Design itself does not sell.”
Closing Thoughts: A Few Extra Tips
So, there you have it. The basics of designing a great website on WordPress. Let’s leave off with a few additional tips to help you along.
- Avoid excessive advertising, and do not use popup ads. Ever.
- Auto-playing music and video are not, under any circumstances, to be used.
- Look at other successful websites and designs, and incorporate some of the tactics they use into your own site. These layout examples are a good place to start.
- Read up on search engine optimization, including local SEO.
- Remember that your domain name and hosting package both matter. Choose wisely.