What are the best practices for developing a business website? You might say high-speed performance or excellent cybersecurity. But at the heart of any website development is the UI/UX design. This is how code becomes a visual and interactive experience for your customers. A business website is an online venue, each page a room in a virtual shop that should unfold and flow just like a real-life venue experience -even for brands that are solely online.
Great UI/UX design for a business website encapsulates the feeling of being in a store, catered to by concierge chatbots and a market search tool taking the place of intuitively stocked shelves and product racks. Of course, great UI/UX design always starts with best practices. How do you create an immersive business website design? It all comes down to your User Interface and the User Experience you plan to create.
Start with the Basics
- Header Nav, Sidebar, Footer
- User, Hamburger Menu
- Homepage, About, Shop, Blog, Contact
- Divs and Content
Always start a website UI/UX design with the basics: Your audience knows what to expect from a website in your industry. They want your basic pages and features right where they expect to find them. For most websites, this starts with the header navigation bar, including “Home”, “About”, “Shop”, “Blog”, and “Contact” with plenty of room for flexibility based on your specific industry and market.
Use the symbols and page arrangement your audience already knows how to use. Include a user portrait for their account and a hamburger menu for extra options. From there, get ready to arrange your content using the usual boxes and rectangles of content that will together form your total page content on each website page. Every page type will have a template that follows the same layout using the essential elements.
Make Use of Templates and Wireframes
Next, mock up your website at every stage of development. Each time you imagine a different layout of content or arrangement of features – make a wireframe. A wireframe is a visual representation of a web page without working buttons or links. Together, a total wireframe can allow you to visually explore and craft your UI as if the website were explorable to create the user experience you desire.
For most web developments, wireframes are essential because they pull the technical and experiential elements of the design together.
Build a Brand Experience
With your wireframe ready, start to build your brand experience. Take the basic pieces and layer the elements of your brand into them.
The UI that Defines Your Brand
What colors, shapes, and fonts define your brand? Do you use big central content or busy pages with many content-sectors per page? Do you prefer uneven ratios or nice grid-aligned boxes? What small design elements are seen in every corner and button of the site, vs large elements that mark your website page by department and purpose
This is where UX really comes into play. What experience do you want on-site visitors and customers to have when they “walk” through each “room” of your online venue? Slide-out shopping carts, unique tools, and widgets are the crowing elements of a brand experience.
A Unique Flow through the Website
Envision how your customers will flow through the website, from search- and advertisement-based landing pages through the phases of research and purchase? Explore how your navigation bar plans will create a site-nav experience. Consider additional tools or integrated drop-downs to make the site flow more smoothly. Your brand experience can also shape the flow through the site based on your unique audience personalities and priorities.
Keep It Clean and Easy
Once you’ve woven your brand into the UI design to create your initial UX, keep it clean. Cut the clutter, value your whitespace, and make sure it will look good on mobile. A clean and easy website design is important to make each page and click meaningful and help your customers complete their tasks (and carts) when making use of your website.
Use Composition to Direct the Eye
Composition is one of the most powerful elements of website design. It is what makes a great photographer’s work stand out. How a doorway frames a scene and draws the eye to specific elements in the picture is how you should approach UI design. Where do you want the customer’s eyes to be drawn? In what order should they read the elements on your page? Is their next action clear?
You can create visually powerful web pages while gently guiding users through each click using artistic composition.
The visual hierarchy is the best-known application of composition in website design. The size of the text creates a hierarchy that forms content structures. your headers (H1, H2, H3) quickly tell skimming users which pieces of information are central or detailed. Visual hierarchy is also what makes a page full of text into a dynamic and interesting user experience when implemented correctly.
Color and Line Focusing
Make use of how color and lines draw the eye. People tend to scroll or look inward. Expect your users to read left-to-right and design your websites based on directing attention in that natural flow to complete an on-page task. You can also use artistic elements and background design to spotlight the most important content on each page.
Big Pushable Buttons
Lastly, let’s not underestimate the importance of “Big pushable buttons”. Remember the websites of the 90s where nearly all web buttons were tiny gray rectangles? Those days are long gone. Today, customers find it easiest to use your website when they can find the next button. “Go to Checkout”, “Book a Quote”, and “Submit” are all essential to make it easy to see and easy to click.
Heat mapping often reveals that customers try to click elements that aren’t buttons and can miss small buttons that do an essential function. Big clickable buttons avoid confusion and make necessary processes more enjoyable.
Widget and Floating Element Upgrades
Right now, web page design can be defined by the tools and floating elements you add to the basic design. However, these elements have special rules of their own.
On-Page Widgets and Tools Rule the Day
As performance speed becomes a key player in your SEO success, on-page widgets gain power. Small tools that continue to function on-page (even with a choppy internet connection) add value to both desktop and mobile web pages. Widgets and tools like calculators and interactive diagrams offer increased on-page performance and are a useful reason for customers to come back to certain web pages.
Know Your Floating Elements
- Never obscure with a floating element
- Leave margins and scroll-tracks in your design
Floating elements have been a hot trend for 5 years running, and floating chatbots have become an industry standard. But beware: the one best practice that must always be followed with floating elements of any kind is: never obscure page content. Always leave a large enough margin or scroll-track so that the floating element never blocks the central text or content.
You may have a pop or slide-out floating element that tucks away off-content. This is common with live chat windows that fold out from their floating icon. But be careful. Don’t obscure the first 2 words for every line of your content with a too-wide floating sidebar.
Finally, be prepared for a perfect meeting of web and mobile website performance. Websites today are expected to be mobile-responsive with rearranging internal elements to provide for various screen sizes and orientations (landscape or portrait). When doing your UI/UX design for any business website, be sure to design its mobile counterpart at the exact same time. Most people will expect nearly-identical desktop and mobile browser performance.
Building a great business website is all about starting with the best practices of UI and building a great UX from there. Contact us for the UI/UX expertise that goes beyond best practices into unique and engaging user experiences.