by Karen Kleinman
Chances are if you work for a company, they have a website. You might know a couple of people that have personal websites for hobbies or side-hustles. So why should you have your own website? The reason really doesn’t matter - as long as it’s functional. If it’s functional, no matter what your site is for, it is a valuable tool and asset.
So… the big question! What makes a website functional?
Platform -> Foundation
Design -> Readability
Navigation -> Structure
Content -> Information
The platform you choose will determine what you or your designer can build. Are you going to have everything coded by hand? Are you going to install a Content Management System? Or are you going to use a Web Builder? Or even a hybrid of any of the above? Before making this decision, you must ask yourself what do you want your site to do? How do you want it to work?
TIP: For the DIY crowd with little coding experience, Web Builders can be super easy to use, but keep in mind you will always have a trade off of “easy to build” for “design and functionality”… and this may work for what you need, and that’s OK.
Webpage layout has changed quite often over the past ten years. Your website goal for design is to choose a layout that is easy to read. This includes selecting a good color pallet, the right size and family of fonts, and designing spaces to include text, pictures, graphic elements, logos, videos, and most importantly white space. Your list of what all you want your site to do will come in handy when you are designing your site.
TIP: Don’t be dazzled by fancy bells & whistles. If an element doesn’t serve a specific purpose, ask yourself, “Is it there because it’s needed or is it there because it’s trendy or cool?”
Imagine coming to a site to find some information you are needing, and not knowing where it’s at or how to get there. The majority of people’s next move is to go to another site – not dig around for what they are looking for. Your navigation needs to be intuitive. If someone wants to know about your site, an About or History section is needed. If someone is trying to get in touch with you, the Contact page is what they will be looking for. Navigation should be clear, structured, and easy to read.
TIP: Never try to purposefully bury important information like email addresses, phone numbers, street or mailing addresses, warranty info, refund rules, or business policies.
Content is KING! The whole point of your website should be to give useful information – it doesn’t matter if the end user is yourself, friends, customers, employees, or the general community. Write your content for an audience that is fact oriented. Avoid wordy sentences – unless your site is for writing prose or poetry. And please, for all that is good in the world, use complete sentences, punctuation, and spell check. Content isn’t all just words, your content can include photographs, graphic art, videos, audio, databases, forms, downloads, calendars, etc.… just make sure that your content is kept in line for what your site is about and don’t forget to keep it classy - and legal.
TIP: Copyright extends to things on the internet. When sourcing content for your site keep in mind that if you yourself or someone you paid for content rights didn’t create the work, it has a high chance of being copyright protected and if used, could land you in a court room. For more information on copyright visit https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/