We're creatives. We are in a creative industry. Most of us have creative minds and lean towards beauty and aesthetic appeal. But when designing a website, we need to remember that people visiting are not always creatives, and they may look at your site in a very different way. If they can't find their way around or figure out how to get where they want to go, or if they have to sift through lots of fluff they do not consider important, they may leave your page (no matter how beautiful the images or creative the site is) and move on to the next one.
When it comes to your website, attention should be paid to the images we use. But just as important are the minute details to make sure it performs optimally and serves its purpose. Here are 4 things to keep in mind when designing a beautiful photography website, that also functions just as beautifully as it looks.
1. Have a simple and clear navigation.
You have to provide a simple and very straightforward navigation menu so that even a young child will know how to use it. Stay away from complicated menus or multi-tiered drop down menus. If your visitors don't know how to navigate, they will leave your site. I have heard it said that anyone visiting your website should be able to get where they want to go in 3 clicks or less.
2. Have a clear indication of where the user is.
When visitors are deeply engrossed in browsing your site, you will want to make sure they know which part of the site they are in at that moment. That way, they will be able to browse relevant information or navigate to any section of the site easily. Don't confuse your visitors because confusion means “abandon ship”!
Make sure you have clear directions on the navigation of your website. The navigation menu should be uncluttered and concise so that visitors know how to navigate around your website without confusion.
3. Don't fill your website with unnecessary fluff.
Graphics, doodles, do-dads, etc. can be very distracting for people visiting your website. There are several reasons for this. It gives their eyes many places to go other than your beautiful images. You don't want to give your visitor's eyes anything to settle on other than the simple beauty of your photos. Also, a busy site can create anxiety in people. Some will simply leave if it's just too busy, and they won't even know why. You want them to feel relaxed, soothed, and give them a place they want to settle down in for awhile. And lastly, if there is too much business on any one page, it will be hard for them to see the navigation and figure out where they are and where they want to go next. Their eyes get tired, they grow weary of looking through all of the fluff for what they need, and they move on.
4. Put only what they need to know.
Typically, you have about 3-5 minutes to convey to your visitors what you want them to know about you and your work. If your website is too complicated, you've probably already lost them, but if you have followed the guidelines of 1, 2, & 3 above, don't lose them now by overwhelming them with wordiness.
Most people simply will not invest too much time in discovery unless you quickly give them a reason to stay. We live in an instant gratification world, and they want to know almost immediately if you're the right photographer for them, so think about how you can convey that to visitors as quickly and with as few paragraphs as possible. It is critical to be concise and communicate the most important things you want them to know about you and your business.
Additionally, keep your text paragraphs at a reasonable length. If a paragraph is too long, you should consider splitting it into separate paragraphs so that the text blocks will not be too big. This is important because a block of text that is too large will deter visitors from reading your content. They will most likely, move on. Remember, instant gratification.
What is your favorite Website Design tip? We would love to hear what has worked for you!
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