Website Design Guidelines

How to Effectively Design a Website

The aesthetics of web design form an important part of creating a website, but effective web design is much than presenting a pretty or colourful web page.  In order for a website to be successful in attracting visitors and consumers, it must fulfil a number of criteria.  The functionality and usability of the site are vital, as sloppily-designed sites can cause confusion and frustration for those visiting them. The structure of the website and ease in reading the content are also crucial in ensuring that the user has an enjoyable experience.

The structure of the website refers to the platform it is built on, such as code or script.  Examples of code are HTML or CSS among many others, while a script-based site may use WordPress or Joomla. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, and each has an effect on search engine ratings.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization

Code that slows down the loading of the website is undesirable, as search engines prefer fast-loading sites.  If the structure of the site is unfavourable, the chances of achieving high SEO rankings are greatly diminished.    A tool such as the W3C Markup Validation Service can be helpful, as it will check the website for errors that are hindering its performance.  Good structure ensures ease of navigation for the user.

The usability of the website affects the user’s enjoyment of visiting it.  A website needs to be easy to navigate and follow, with correct and working links and an ability to return to the home page whenever the user decides. If the user gets lost or frustrated, the chances are the webpage will be closed and never re-visited.  A site should be user-friendly for both human visitors and search engine spiders or robots.


The ability to read the content and text on a website is vital for its success.  The ideal aesthetic is for a dark text on a lighter background, unexciting as it may sound.  It is extremely difficult for users to read text on a dark background, for example, and while funky colours and backgrounds look attractive at one level, they are very uncomfortable to peruse in any detail.

The most important element of effective web design is functionality.  If the website offers any kind of interaction with the user, it should work smoothly and efficiently.  For example, if a user wishes to make a comment online or sign-up for emails, the process should be straightforward.  Discussion forums or community websites should flow easily from page to page and post to post; any difficulty in using the website will deter return visitors. Any links or search functions within the site should work seamlessly, and any downloadable content should be easily accessed. Google provides free Webmaster tools which can help to establish and correct any errors or issues that affect the functionality of the website. An effectively-designed website will take all of these elements into account and ensure that they are implemented carefully, correctly and professionally within the site.  This in turn will provide a positive experience for all visitors to the website.

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