Earnie’s key principles of website design

By The Earnie Team

Websites are the first port of call for people who are trying to find information on your business, whether this is potential and existing clients, future hires, media contacts or even athletes. It is, therefore, essential that you have an up to date website that is visually appealing as well as functional. Here are Earnie’s key design principles for websites.

Putting the User front and centre

How a user navigates your site and achieves their respective goals should be at the heart of any good website design. This process starts by defining who your users are and prioritising them into a hierarchy of who is the most important to your business. Are your most important users sponsors, athletes or media? Whilst there will be some overlap with content for users some will be different i.e. sponsor materials may not be strictly relevant to media. Prioritising the users and mapping specific content to them allows businesses to align their objectives for the website with the objectives of their target audiences.

Simple and Scaled Back
For some sites having large amounts of content and pages on the site is unavoidable due to the nature of the business (e.g. sports clothing retailers) but wherever possible businesses should look to minimise pages in order to drive users to the key areas of the site. Estimates of average time spent on websites have their limitations due to the way session durations are calculated as well as varying largely (anywhere from 15 seconds to 2 and a half minutes). Irrespective of the actual time, it is clear that, on average, users do not tend to spend particularly long on websites and whilst it is important that the relevant content is there, you also need to be careful not to bury it within less important content.

Mobile friendly
We’re not quite at the stage where all sites are developed as mobile first, as social media sites are now designed, but in 2017 websites being mobile friendly is a minimum requirement. The importance of mobile varies from business to business but in 2016 mobile usage on the web overtook that of desktop. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/11/01/mobile-web-usage-overtakes-desktop-for-first-time/) Its importance cannot be understated.

Consistency & Usability

Creating a consistent user experience, both visually and functionally, is essential to making sure the website is user friendly. Krug’s first law of usability, also known as the ‘Don’t make me think’ principle, states that a site should be obvious and self-explanatory. You have to be very careful about adding functionality that has not been widely used in other sites. People who visit your site are only armed with the knowledge they have gained from using other websites as users will spend most of their web time on other sites. It is important that if you add an unusual or innovative feature to a website, as we did with the augmeant website (see case study here), it is clear how it works and the website is able to be fully usable if users do not engage with that feature.

Visually Appealing
Whilst the creative design of websites needs to be relevant to the company itself there are some basic elements that can be applied across all sites. First of all, businesses shouldn’t be afraid of blank space. As discussed earlier, users often do not spend a long time on websites so having less content allows for legibility and easy navigation in identifying key content as well as providing a clean crisp design and allowing the site to respond appropriately for mobile. Also, creative design of the site must reflect the company’s branding and values with usage of colour and the overall look and feel. Do we want a purely professional feel to come across or something a bit more fun and experimental?