If you’re considering — or are currently working on — the design or redesign of your company’s website, here are nine tips. Whether you’re working with a Web designer or you are doing your own site design, consider the following design elements to create a more usable, effective site.

  1. Don’t use animated graphics: This isn’t Web 1.0. This is the website for your business. There should be no clapping monkeys or waving flags on your site, no matter how cute the critters are or how patriotic you feel.
  2. Present content as dark text on a light background: We have grown up reading black text on a white page. Don’t make it hard for your readers to read your site with crazy color combinations because you think it looks good or matches the company colors. If people can’t read the content, then they will do what any sensible Web user would do: leave.
  3. Select a font and stick to it: Use two fonts, one for headlines and another for body copy, and never mix them up. Headlines on my site are always Arial Black and my body copy is always Georgia.
  4. Use Web-safe fonts: All fonts may be created equal, but not all fonts work equally well online. To ensure that your Web pages display correctly for most users, use fonts that are Web-friendly, i.e., fonts that appear on a large percentage of computers. Some common fonts used on the Web are Arial, Veranda, and Times New Roman. Note: If you are designing pages for mobile devices, you have even fewer font choices.
  5. Use a readable font size: Make it legible. Fourteen-point font size is the new 12-point.
  6. Present a clean layout: Just like your print ads, you want enough “white space” to avoid a cluttered, disorganized look.
  7. Make navigation easy: Make sure your site has a logical progression leading readers to your ultimate goal: getting them to fill out a form and email you or call you.
  8. Provide a contact form: This is an absolute must. You have to have a contact form on each page of your site. To accomplish this, you can add a small form in the sidebar so prospects can submit their information whenever the mood strikes them. And don’t get greedy about the info you try to collect. Name, email, maybe phone number, and a comment are all you need to get back to them. Remember: It’s a contact form, not a lead-qualification form.
  9. Keep content close together: The main text area of my blog is 500 pixels wide, which helps keep the content close enough so that your eyes don’t have to do a lot of searching for text, allowing you to subconsciously absorb more content more easily.

That’s it. Some quick user-interface tips, some design tips, and a conversion tip that will all contribute to you doing one thing: Converting more of the traffic your website is already getting! —Darren Slaughter runs a boutique website design and marketing shop that serves only contractors in the home improvement space. darrenslaughter.com