The appearance of a website matters, greatly.
As a designer, I’m biased. However, during the first milliseconds of viewing a site, if the logo, fonts, colors or imagery make my eyes bleed — I won’t proceed to the content. For myself and other professionals, design equals credibility.
While an Organic Theme will provide a huge head start towards creating a beautiful site, there are still potential poor design choices that can be made on the path to completion. Here are a few tips for staying on the path to creating a beautiful WordPress site.
Images will make or break the appearance of your site. Poor image choice is the most common mistake I encounter in new websites. If you plan to use images, don’t cheap out — it will reflect poorly on your brand.
Good images are going to cost you a few bucks. Great images are going to cost you more than a few bucks. If you don’t have the budget for quality photography, there are a few options for finding good free imagery.
Once upon a time, in my youth, I thought Papyrus was a great font. Then I became a designer, and realized it’s not. Making great font choices is very important to the design, professionalism and above all else, the legibility of your site. If you want people to read your content — make it easy for them.
When in doubt, use Helvetica, Arial or Georgia. They are widely recognized as legible fonts online — and they should work across all browsers without any coding trickery. If you’re not a professional designer, and a font looks “boring“, that’s probably the easiest way to recognize it as being a good font.
Seen a great font, but don’t know what it is? Try WhatTheFont from MyFonts.
Using fonts on the web isn’t like choosing a font in Microsoft Word. By default, there are only a handful of core fonts that can be viewed universally on the web. This problem has haunted web typography for years. Very difficult workarounds evolved using images, Flash or Cufon. It wasn’t until relatively recently that great solutions began to emerge.
Unless you are well versed in color theory, getting too creative with the color scheme on your site may be a disaster. It might look like a chimpanzee finger painting.
If color isn’t your cup of tea, a great rule of thumb is to use 2 neutral, contrasting colors (preferably shades of black and white) with the sparse use of 1 highlight color throughout your site.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, try implementing a palette from ColourLovers. Remember to make wise color choices that match your brand.
We create our themes to provide basic color changing options for the links, buttons, highlights and background. We have tried to keep the options minimal to reduce the risk of a color disaster.
Not so long ago, I was a logo designer. A logo is more than just an icon at the top of your site — it’s the face of your company. There is a reason why companies like Citibank pay millions of dollars for a logo re-branding from Pentagram. Those companies understand the value of a logo, and the importance of their brand.
You don’t need a million dollars for a great logo, but you do need more than $20. I’d estimate a starting rate for a great logo concept at around $300, depending on the designer. The price will likely increase considerably based on the number of concepts and revisions desired.
Logopond is a great resource for finding excellent and affordable logo designers.
If you can’t afford a logo designer, there’s always Helvetica. Use a great typeface, purchase an icon from iStockPhoto for $20, or even use your signature if it’s a personal site or brand. Keep it as simple as possible if you absolutely have to create your own logo without experience.
Just please don’t ask your secretary or nephew to design a logo if you value the appearance of your site. It won’t be pretty.
More is not always more. When a site contains too much clutter — the focus of the content is lost.
By clutter, I’m referring to:
While advertising might be a necessity for creating a profitable site, filling it with Google AdSense on every post and sidebar is not going to result in more money. Place ads wisely, and only if your site is generating enough traffic to warrant the use of advertisements. If you’re just getting started, the focus should be on the content. There’s no such thing as an overnight success, even on the web.
A beautiful site is peaceful, not a bombardment of all senses.
Remember, anything that distracts the viewer from the content is bad. If you don’t need it, don’t use it.
Following these tips will result in a stronger brand and more interest in your site. The appearance of a professional brand is essential to any business, and we want your business to look great.