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Ultimate List of Web Design Best Practices

Posted on 3.31.2014

Exceptional website design, which supports a brand's ultimate aim of converting users online, requires designers to abide by a broad set of best practices.

While many don't or won't care for the phrase "best practice," when you understand that they relate primarily to maintaining accessibility, balance and engagement for users, it becomes more palatable and to a more extensive cross-section of your digital team.

Keep in mind that Web design best practices will vary by audience makeup, industry vertical and a number of other variables almost too numerous to mention. That said, the aim should simply be to create a compelling/engaging, balanced, organized and functional site. Whatever questions you and your Web design team can ask that meet those four broad/general criteria, the more effective the website will be for the business operating it in the future.

Use the following quick checklist to ensure you and your designers are creating digital products that meet or exceed the expectations of users. Got your own Web design best practice? Please let us know by sharing a comment below - no best practice is too big or small! Also, make sure to visit Internet Rating, Website Magazine's new, free beta-service for evaluating websites, to gather some "first impression-level data" about your website design!

ACCESSIBILITY

- Content is clearly separate from navigational elements; aim for a subtle contrast between text and the background.
- The website achieves cross-browser compatibility (displays without issue on popular/current versions of IE, Chrome, Firefox and the variety of mobile devices/smartphones.
- The coding/markup is valid and compliant
- Appropriate alt tags are used on significant images

NAVIGATION

- Links are properly labeled
- Hyperlinked text/images must be indicated stylistically
- Type face/font size meets readability standards
- Calls-to-action are present consistently throughout
- Sitemaps/search features are present and functional

DESIGN & LAYOUT

- Site design is aesthetically pleasing 
- Colors are harmonious and relevant to the audience
- Essential design elements (logos, navigtation areas) are used consistently throughout the website, never taking more than 1/3 of the browser window in any resolution.
- Important, actionable information is accessible above the fold (no scrolling)
- Page load times meet/exceed existing standards

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