Dean from Grand Rapids, MI asks:
“I’m going to be re-designing my website in the next little while to replace the dinosaur site I have up now. What are some of the key things that I should be thinking about?”
Thanks Dean. I'll begin my answer by highlighting a key fact in the field of web design: Visitors to any website are remarkably quick to judge a site. In fact, research done by Google, in partnership with the University of Basel in Switzerland, found that it takes about 1/20th of a second for website visitors to determine whether they like your site or not (and thus, whether they’ll stay or leave). In other words, they’re going to make a snap judgement almost instantaneously.
The fastest and best way to address this dynamic is to simplify your website. Please understand that the human brain craves order and simplicity. There are LOTS of ways to simplify your website--ways that have been researched and tested for validity. They include:
1. First and foremost, simplify your navigation menu.
2. Improve readability.
One of the best ways to do this is to take advantage of "white space". It's been proven that having appropriate white space in text-heavy sections of a website decreases "reader fatigue" which increases the likelihood of the viewer staying on your site. One way to increase white space is to use headings and sub-headings (much like I've done here in this post). If you want to make certain key words stand out, then use bold or italics.
3. Make it easy for the prospective client to get core information about YOU.
When preparing for my first coaching session with a client who wants to have me examine their website, I often see three critical questions that are not answered: What do you shoot? Where do you work? How do I get in touch with you? IMO, this info has to be listed on your website as these are not only vital bits of information, they are also indirectly connected to your brand.
4. Speed is vital!
In a world in which viewers give us 1/20th of a second before passing judgement on our website, there is no excuse for having photos with snail-like download speeds. User abandonment rates go way up if this happens. Needless to say, your photos need to be re-sized appropriately.
5. Make your website mobile responsive.
Recent research in web design has found that "85% of adults think that a company’s website when viewed on a mobile device should be as good or better than its desktop website." In fact, this research went on to state that "mobile devices are projected to comprise 63% of global internet use by the end of 2019." So this is clearly a non-negotiable requirement for any website re-design.
So there you have it, Dean. This is only a small sampling of the fundamental elements of good web design. I'm also sure that our readers will offer much more input in the comments than I could cover in a brief post.
Tony Colangelo is a residential and commercial photographer, as well as a photography coach, based in Victoria, BC, Canada. He is a long-time contributor to PFRE and is the creator of The Art & Science of Great Composition tutorial series.