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Website Design Best Practices

technologyChange is hard. Especially when change requires us to completely rethink everything we’ve been thought to understand as the de facto method in creating websites.

Anytime a website is created from scratch, a lot of the decisions can be made based on past assumptions, strong opinions, and educated guesses. Truthfully this approach is a bit of a gamble and instead I encourage you to look critically at popular websites, seek out trends, and browse your website’s analytics. This will help in acheiveing a website that will help grow your business.

Here are three common assumptions I highly suggest you begin to rethink when designing a website. Of course, these design principles should also be critically examined moving forward to see if there are other better alternatives. Technology evolves at a rapid rate, how we design websites should evolve just as fast.

Don’t Use Dropdown Menus

Although the idea of having a drop down menu can be very attractive, as it can make your menu clean and organized, users have found that using dropdown menus can be difficult and depending on how they’re coded, can even hurt your SEO.

Dropdown menus also hide items in your menu, making it more difficult for users perusing your website to find relevant information. Instead, it’s best to create either a secondary menu, or a compelling design highlighting various content on your website. This will create a more engaging layout enticing visitors to further explore your website. By creating excerpts for different pages on your website, opposed to just a link in a convoluted menu, this approach will make your website more engaging to visitors learning about your business.

Learn more about dropdown menus are just flat out annoying at Nielsen Norman Group.

Stop Using Sidebars

Sidebars have also fallen by the wayside in terms of best practice website design. Users are tending to ignore sidebars altogether because most popular websites have used that space to include advertisements. People have grown to ignore the right rail and if they can’t find what they’re looking for by just scrolling through your main content, you run the risk of losing them.

analyticsUsing the full width real estate of your website layout allows for a more compelling design, including attractive imagery and call-to-action buttons guiding users to where you feel will be most impactful and useful to them.

Learn more about sidebars and why they’re being ignore at Nielsen Norman Group.

Avoid Slideshows

Slideshows, much like dropdown menus tend to hide relevant content in their slides and more often than not, users scroll past slideshow looking for relevant content. If you keep pertinent content in one of the slides chances are very high that visitors will miss it just by simply scrolling past it.

When using slideshows, it’s best to use them as a complimentary element, opposed to a critical function of the website.

Learn more about why slideshows hide relevant content at Nielsen Norman Group.

Critical Eye

As I mentioned earlier, these principles will evolve and change over time. How we use technology is in constant flux, therefore we as website designers and builders need to ride the evolutionary wave, otherwise we’ll be left behind in the deep end.

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