Whether you outsource your web design, have it done in-house or even do it yourself in all cases you must follow a number of basic guidelines if you want your website to perform as you want it to. All of them can be achieved, especially if you and your web design team agree on them beforehand.

The first step must always be to plan your website in advance, both in terms of what it needs to do when completed and how it will look. As with any project, failing to plan is a recipe for disaster, and will undoubtedly lead to a lot of wasted time and money.

When considering the design of your website, unless there is a specific reason to make the layout complicated, always seek to make it simple, and user-friendly. Consistency throughout the site will help visitors find their way to each section or page quickly and without hindrance.

Ensure that your branding is clear throughout the site with the use of consistent colours and have your company logo clearly visible on the home page at least and preferably on every page.

When adding content to the site be conscious of the length of text lines and how they will appear on computer screens. The best practice is to use text tables to keep the text within pre-set widths.

Another way to make reading the content on your site easier is to keep blocks of text to single paragraphs. Seeing any more than four or five lines of text can put visitors off reading anything which is hardly going to help if the text relays an important message.

Images can be a double-edged sword to a website so careful consideration of their use is essential. There’s no denying that clear, sharp images can really help to engage visitors who are looking at them, and often they garner as much information from an image than they do text.

On the other side of the coin is the effect large image files have on website load times. Huge files can delay a web pages loading and even if that is for only a second, it might be enough for that visitor to click away.

When planning the use of images, discuss with your web designer finding a balance between the quality of and the files sizes. This also applies to other media files such as audio and video.

In addition to the home page, there are other pages which every website should have and yours should be no different. For legal reasons, you should have a privacy policy, so that visitors are aware how you will use their information if it is submitted to you. You might also want to have a terms and conditions page, especially if your website is used for eCommerce.

It is always good practice to have an ‘About Us’ page to explain more about your company or to tell visitors a bit about yourself. This lets them see there is a real person behind the business which can give them more confidence to enter their email or buy from the site.

Lastly, you want a ‘Contact Us’ page which, like the ‘About Us’ page, reassures visitors and customers if they experience any problems they can get in touch with your business to have it resolved.