WordPress is one of the most popular CMS and website builders of all time. In fact, websites built with WordPress account for 26 percent of all sites on the web. Search engines also revealed that WordPress has 2,740,000 searches and counting every month!
So, if you have a WordPress site or want to build a new site using a WP theme, there are some best practices to consider that coincide with professional website design. You may be able to improve your website’s visibility, impact, functionality and mobile readiness just by looking into these factors.
These WordPress website design tips come from professional website designers and web developers who love this platform for building fast, beautiful sites for all types of brands.
Choose a Simple, Compelling Color Palette
What are your brand’s colors? How are they incorporated into your website design and theme? A great color palette gives more impact to your website and draws the visitor’s eye to the content you want them to see first. It sets the tone for your visitors and highlights the most important parts of your business online.
When you look at your website, do you see tons of different colors? Website designers say this isn’t the best way to colorize your site. You should use a limited color palette that has two main colors. Black or dark gray on white background is the best color palette for readable text, but in some cases, call-out sections with a dark accent background and light text work well too.
Use Clean White Space Design
One of the main principles of great design is the use of white space. When you put too much information in a small amount of space, you crowd white space, and the area becomes unreadable.
When you have too much white space, the design can seem disorganized.
There’s a fine balance here, and designers are typically the ones who have the most experience on the best way to use white space. The main goal is to highlight the most important images, videos, and headlines with white space. You also want to have enough white space around your call-to-action buttons so that they stand out.
Custom Fonts and Typography
Is your site using plain Helvetica or Verdana? While it’s not devastating to use readable sans serif fonts like this, it helps your brand’s voice when you have custom typography. You can find a variety of font plugins to use with your WordPress site and select a custom font that suits your brand.
When selecting a font, designers look at its readability on desktop and mobile, as well as how it looks when customized when using italics or bold. The font should also stand out when displayed on a colored background or image.
Try Higher Quality Images
Are you using stock images from 2010? If so, they’re outdated. Most stock images are recognizable if you have been on the internet long enough.
When designers look for images, they look for the latest and highest quality photos and try to find unique people and settings that invoke the brand’s tone. You also want to make sure that images complement your content and communicate the right idea with just a glance.
However, if your company already has a supply of visually interesting and quality images, those should be used in place of a stock image. Having an image of your company, service or product that isn’t stock helps to elevate the quality of your site. You’re guaranteed to have not seen the image that your company has over a stock one.
Check Your Readable Permalinks
Permalinks are set up under “Settings” in your WordPress dashboard. These are permanent URLs that direct users to a specific page when browsing your site. The standard WordPress URL format is yourdomain.com/p=123, which is not what you want. You want to change this to “post name” so that it appears as yourdomain.com/your-post-name.
Doing this helps with SEO and link structures. You can also define a custom permalink strategy, but you should consult with a professional website design service if you do not have experience customizing this feature.
Pick Your Plugins Wisely
Too many plugins drag down a WordPress site’s loading time and mobile experience. In addition, plugins can interfere with one another and cause other errors. Most businesses tend to purchase a WordPress theme, which comes with multiple plugins.
These are typically necessary to build the website and organize different elements. Other plugins are for security, SEO, image optimization and navigation.
You should uninstall any plugins that you don’t need and research plugins that you want to use as much as possible. When was the plugin last updated? Does it have a support page or documentation? Make sure to look at the security of the plugin and customer reviews.
There may be times where trying to understand all the plugins available can be overwhelming and frustrating. (Maybe you’re too busy at your business and don’t have the time to worry about it.) That’s when we’d absolutely recommend hiring an agency to help ensure that this whole process is done without any issues happening to your site.
Conduct User Experience Tests
Do you know the friction points on your WordPress site? From your home page, where do you want people to navigate to? How difficult is it to make a purchase or sign up for your marketing?
Every website has a navigational path. Most visitors look at the “above the fold” content first. There is typically a navigation bar, header image and a call-to-action button in the center. Anything below the main header image will require a user to scroll down, and while it’s important, you want to feature your most important call-to-action and product in the space above the fold.
You should look for missed opportunities or areas of friction that will stop a visitor in their tracks. For example, do you have a form on mobile that requires multiple entries and takes forever to fill-in? Customers likely won’t complete your form if they aren’t getting something of immediate value to them in return.
To start off your test, navigate to your website from desktop and mobile separately. What jumps out at you? Do all pages load quickly? Does every image load? When you click on a CTA button, does it take you where you want to go?
Lastly, how long does it take to make a transaction or sign up for something? It should be a quick, user-friendly process with little to no friction points.
Easy-to-Use, Mobile-Friendly Navigation
At the top of most websites, you will find a navigation menu. The most traditional navigation menu spreads across the top with links to “About Us,” “Products,” “Contact,” and more. In many cases, these navigation menus have sub-navigation menus that break out when you hover over each link with your mouse.
Simple and clean navigation works best. Your navigational menu should direct the user where you want them to go, but it also needs to load quickly and work on mobile. In addition, you don’t need to overwhelm the user with too many decisions as they click through your navigation.
However, some businesses need a lot of navigational content, like an online retailer, where there are typically several product categories with sub-menus. The best practice here is to make it structured and easily visible on desktop and mobile.
Update Your Site in Test Environments ONLY First
In order to keep your WordPress site secure, you will need to update periodically. WordPress typically has security updates every month, but it’s risky if a plugin becomes incompatible. To figure out if an update will cause issues, it’s best to update WordPress in a secure test environment and then check your site’s functionality before updating the live site.
Know the Gutenberg Editor
WordPress included the Gutenberg Editor in the WordPress 5.0 update in 2018. The new editor has some special features for formatting and content blocks. You can still use the classic editor for now, but it’s best to upgrade and check out your new content editor in a test environment.
Looking for custom, state-of-the-art, and dare-we-say brilliant WordPress website design? Are you trying to improve your current website but too busy to do so? We have an expert staff of designers and web developers who would love to help you create the perfect site for your business. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.