In a world of websites, it’s okay to be different. Sure, there are some usability standards and best practices you’ll want to follow:
- Keep navigation simple and recognizable–“ opens in a new windowmystery meat” menus will just confuse your visitors. Locate menus where people expect them (at the top and/or left side).
- “Less is more” applies to both content and page count. Fewer words and well-organized chunks of text are easier to read on the Web, and analytics usually show that your users are focusing on only a few pages of your site (e.g., Home, About, Contact, Portfolio).
- Avoid Flash. With the rise of HTML5 for animation and video, Flash is on its way out. And iPads and iPhones can’t read Flash, potentially making your site inaccessible to a large number of users.
- Don’t use “Enter Site” or “splash” pages. Other than social sharing buttons (which you should definitely include on your site), “Skip Intro” is one of the most-used links on the Internet. It’s okay to have a simple landing page, just make sure it has actual content.
However, there are ways to make your website stand out from the crowd, while still respecting your brand and giving your users a great experience:
- Don’t be afraid of color (and I don’t just mean blue).
- Use bold imagery; consider full-screen photo backgrounds.
- Take advantage of typography. We’re no longer limited to web-safe Arial, Verdana, Georgia, and Times Roman. opens in a new windowGoogle Web Fonts are the new name of the game.
- Integrate social media. Letting customers follow you and easily share content directly from your website can increase customer engagement and brand awareness.
- Make it responsive. More and more users are viewing your site on mobile devices and tablets.
So be different. Make it easy for users, but give them something that lets them know you’re special. Stand out from the crowd. It’s easier than ever, and your website visitors–and your business–will love you for it.