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Creating a successful website doesn’t come easy. A website that does a good job needs to have a clean and modern design, needs to ‘sell’ you through the copy and needs to be optimised for search engines and conversion.

There are many pieces to the ‘successful website’ jigsaw puzzle, and design is just one of them. So, let’s take a look at some design tips that can help make your website a success.

Think twice before using sidebars

Sidebars, or widgets on the side of your website (normally on the right) are pretty old fashioned now and tend to clutter up your website. Once upon a time they were used to help with navigation and show people snippets of blogs and items they can download.

Over time, designers have realised that too much promotional content just messes around with the user experience. And, studies involving heat maps have shows that few people actually click on a sidebar anyway.

You’re better off without them in most cases.

Supersize your font

Large font for headings and over header images grabs the readers’ attention and puts the focus on your content. As long as you’ve got great content, this is a good thing.

Large fonts work well with minimalist and flat design trends, and improve readability on mobiles and smaller screens. Just make sure you choose a font type that is web-friendly and scales well.

And never, ever, ever, use Comic Sans. Every time you do, a designer loses their wings. And we need our wings…

Use more whitespace

Similar to getting rid of sidebars, using whitespace reduces clutter and shifts the focus to what’s important – your content. The space doesn’t technically need to be white. It just needs to be clean and clutter free.

Try adding more padding above and below sections to really hero the content in the middle, leaving it unmolested by other images or headings.

It may take time to get used to this, but when scrolling down through a website the viewer really only needs one thing to consider at a time, and extra padding can emphasise this.

Simplify your navigation

Yep, this is an old tip that does the rounds, but for good reason. Placing links to everything under the sun in your menu bar can make navigation complicated. Complication leads to overwhelm, and many users then leave your site altogether.

Keep only the main website pages visible in your main header menu bar and provide links to everything else through drop-down menus, sub-menu in your footer, or through links within your pages.

Use quality images

If there’s one thing you need to invest in for decent website design, it’s good quality stock images.

And I don’t just mean crisp and un-pixelated; I mean quality in their content.

No one wants to see the cheesy, posed, grinning at the camera stock images that have been overused and make people cringe when seeing them. Go for images of people looking relaxed in front of the lens, (not necessarily looking at the camera), and that give the general ‘feel’ of your target market.

If you’re looking on a stock image site and you’re stumped for what to search for, start by searching for ‘lifestyle’ and then narrow it down from there.

For example, your target market might be teenagers. If you search ‘lifestyle’ you might see images of people at the beach, then you can search ‘youth at the beach’ and so on. Looking at images will give you ideas for what you need to find.

And if you want to go one step better than stock images, hire a professional photographer or take high-resolution images yourself. You’ll definitely stand out with your originality.

And remember…

Your website design never has to be permanent.

Try a few different things and see what works. Trends come and go so it’s a good idea to give your website a spruce up every so often to remain current.