When you use the internet, you’re subconsciously teaching yourself web conventions. These are the web's standards, things that have become the norm. Conventions move a little faster on the web than in real life, but they work just the same.
Scrolling through Facebook or watching videos on Youtube may seem like mindless entertainment, but every time you do it, you’re learning something! The world's biggest websites share certain design features, and for very good reason - it makes things easy for users.
When designing your new website, these conventions are an important consideration - they make your website feel familiar. If a new user can use your site without thinking, then you're using web conventions correctly.
When we design and develop your website, these are the things we take care to pay attention to. Of course, rules are made to be broken, however the following are good starting points for any web design project, and are what users expect.
Take a look at any big site:
The top left hand corner is home to the site's logo, and is an important tool in branding your site - reminding people where they are, even if they’ve clicked a thousand links. For the same reason, the logo should link back to your homepage - it's a touchstone for users, a way of escaping a rabbit hole they've clicked too deeply into.
Minimal design is popular, but having links look exactly like content just doesn't work. Users expect links to look a certain way. Traditionally, links have been blue and underlined - while the blue can be scrapped, your links should probably be underlined, and should definitely be a unique colour. Visited links should be visually distinct as well, so people know where they have already been.
Don’t make people work for your navigation! Put it at the top of the page. Usually to the right, or just under the logo, and make sure it’s consistent across every page. If you’ve ever been to a site where you’ve had to scratch you head when looking for a certain page, you understand why. And please, please don’t make your links move around the page.
(Yes, we've seen it. It was glorious, and terrible.)
A button should feel like a button. Compared to regular links, buttons beg to be clicked. Web conventions have taught people what buttons are - all it takes is a bit of a background colour, maybe a raised edge, or a rounded corner, and users just can't help themselves! But please, don’t put Click Here on them - buttons are commonplace, label them with something informative, like Read more, Buy, or Subscribe.
Gone are the days of “click here to follow us on Facebook” or “click here to share on Twitter”. People know what the big social icons look like - using them to link to relevant social pages is all you need!
Though as we said, rules are made to be broken, so click here to follow us on facebook.