Design is a skill. Website design is another step up. Your website is often the first point of contact a customer will have with your business, so it’s important to make a good first impression. This first impression can be influenced by a number of factors:

  • Branding
  • Photography
  • Layout
  • Length of copy
  • Ease of navigation
  • Clear message
  • And so on…

For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to focus on some simple visual rules to follow if you’re building your own website.

Use a pre-built theme

If you’re using WordPress then you’ll have access to hundreds of pre-built ‘themes’. These are websites designs that have been created by professional developers. They’re an off-the-shelf solution that you can customise with your own content to suit your brand.

If you’re not a web developer then they’re a perfect solution. You could spend hours (perhaps months!) trying to design something that looks cool. Or you could pick one of these pre-built solutions to do it for you.

Spend a bit of time searching, as there are some that are a lot better than others. My personal favourites are the more recent ones by Themes Kingdom.

Some come free and some ask you pay a small fee. For the right theme, I would recommend choosing one of the paid options. But don’t go above £100.

Pick 2 fonts

2 fonts is all you really need; 1 for headings and 1 for body copy. Anything beyond this will make it more difficult for your customers to read through your content.

Try to pick 2 that work well together. My recommendation would always be a simple, light, sans serif font for body copy, with something thicker or more flamboyant for headings.

For example, on this website I use a combination of Raleway for body and Montserrat for headings.

The best place to find your fonts is Google Fonts. These fonts are completely free and can be used both online and offline (many of the fonts you use on your computer won’t necessarily work online). By using Google Fonts you can also have consistency between the words on your website and the signs outside your shop.

Choose a palette of colours

Some colours just don’t work together. If your website has several clashing colours it’s not going to be a great experience for the user. Neither will having a bright, bold colour as a background!

Instead, pick 1 feature colour (maybe 2) and use either black or white (or a shade of grey) as a base. That way the user will find it easy on the eyes, and your (sparing) use of your chosen colour can draw the eye to what you want the user to see.

And again, Google has a great tool to help here: Google Colours. This is a great place to pick from a range of colours and also make use of a variety of shades.

Invest in quality, genuine photography

Good quality photography in a consistent style will add so much to your website. If that photography is also genuine and clearly communicates what your business does, then you’re on for a winner.

But don’t go forking out thousands; spend a bit of time searching for a local, up-and-coming photographer who’s looking for more experience and to build their portfolio, as they will be more likely to charge an affordable price. Contact local art colleges or even have a look for local photos on Instagram; you can usually stumble across a semi professional photographer nearby.

But remember, photography is a skill, and good quality cameras don’t come cheap, so don’t expect to pay them minimum wage. Professional photographers charge in excess of £1,000 a day (substantially more in most cases) and a subscription to a stock photo website will set you back over a grand, so a reasonable fee to target would be £100-£400, depending on how experienced they are.

Simple website design rules

So there’s just a few simple website design rules for small businesses to follow. If I’ve missed anything or haven’t answered your question, add your comment below!

Posted by:Mark Flint

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