WordPress web design fundamentals: tips for Brighton organisations

Effective and attractive web design will help your organisation communicate its key messages and stand out from the crowd. WordPress offers a wide range of ready-made themes for Brighton businesses wishing to build their own site.

If you’re on a tight budget or just starting out, these ready made WordPress themes will get you up and running. But if your website is the cornerstone of your business – and that applies to most of us now – you really need to think a bit harder about what you want your web design to do for you.

I specialise in designing custom websites, based on the requirements and aspirations of my clients, using WordPress and other platforms as needed.

Here are some of things I think about when designing a site:

Clear messaging

This is the starting point for any web design. A website must clearly communicate what an organisation does, what the site does and what users can do. Is it easy for users to find what they need. Do they even know what they are supposed to be looking for? And if they have found it do they know what to do next? If a web design can’t answer these questions it’s time to start over.

Look and feel

This is sometimes harder to judge than the previous point. Good web design uses colour, typography, content and imagery to convey an emotional message that will resonate with users and align with the aims and ethos of the client.

Form follows function

A design should relate to its intended purpose. This is sometimes forgotten in web design, when features or design elements are introduced because they are fashionable or used by a competitor. A fine example is the award-winning UK government website.

Familiar but unique

A website should be easy to use. For most sites that means things like its navigation and structure ought to feel at least partly familiar to users. But a great website design will build a unique experience around that familiar structure. Users must be able to differentiate your site from the competition and have reason to return.

Quality content

The content should not be an afterthought but should be built into the design from the earliest possible point. Great design starts with content and addresses the problem of how best to convey it to the end user.

Great imagery

Everyone wants great images on their site. While striking imagery can really lift a site, drab or cliched imagery can really bring it down. Custom photography, graphics or illustration can really help your site stand out. The imagery on the Insurtech Gateway site I recently worked on transformed the design.

White space

Organisations are often understandably keen to use their website to communicate as much information as they can. But this can be counterproductive. Too much information and too many messages can overwhelm the reader. White space is there to provide balance to your site and allow the most important messages and calls to action to stand out.

Web design in Brighton and surrounding area: I can help

I can help your organisation improve its web presence and generate more business as a result. Just drop me an email or call me on 07810 828359.

 

Photo by Jase Ess on Unsplash

Improving the performance of your WordPress site in Brighton

As a WordPress developer, there are a number of strategies I could take to improve the performance of WordPress sites operated by businesses in Brighton. There are also many things you can do yourself, which should help your site load faster. And a faster site means more conversions and better SEO for your site.

Here are my suggestions.

Audit your site

The best place to start when improving the performance of your WordPress site is to gather the evidence. Find out what your site does well and where it could benefit from a bit of optimisation.

There are a number of great, free tools out there which will scan your site, find elements that are slowing it down and make recommendations to improve things.

The first tool I would recommend is the Pingdom Website Speed Test. Just add our site’s url and it will break down which elements are slowing the site down most. It will provide a score, show your page size and load time.

The KeyCDN Website Speed Test is also useful. It will break down all the elements needed to load your site’s home page and how long they take to load.

I would recommend Google’s PageSpeed Insights as well, although it’s recommendations seem more aimed at developers and are therefore more technical. If you need help auditing your site or implementing the recommendations, do get in touch.

Optimise images

Once you’ve audited your site, I can predict that your biggest overhead is your images.

Those beautiful product shots, team photos or intricate backgrounds are likely to be placing the heaviest load on your WordPress site load time. You should try to keep your image sizes below 100k if you can. Large unoptimised images can run to several megabytes, which will have a big impact on your site loading time.

The best time to optimise your images is before you load them, using photo editing software like Affinity Photo, which is great value at £50.

If you already have lots of photos on your site, then you can use a WordPress plugin, such as reSmush.it, to compress the size of your images.

Faster WordPress hosting

I’ve mentioned the importance of good quality WordPress hosting in relation to site security. The same logic applies here. You get what you pay for in hosting and a quality host will have optimised their server setup to load your site quicker. WordPress hosts I can recommend include WP Engine, 34SP and SiteGround.

Remove unused plugins

Unused plugins could be slowing your site down by loading resources that you don’t need. Deactivate and remove them and you save yourself the headache of keeping them updated too.

Use a faster WordPress theme

Sometimes themes purchased from theme stores can be bloated and slow. This is because they are designed to cater for a wide range of requirements and could be offering lots of functionality you never use.

I build custom themes for clients that simply do what they need and not a lot of extra stuff that they don’t. They will be easy to use and quick to load. Contact me to discuss upgrading your WordPress theme.

Site cacheing

Cacheing speeds up your site by storing copies of your site pages for easy access and without requiring calls to the database. Learn more about cacheing on this nice site. Some WordPress hosting companies offer their own cacheing services. There are also a lot of WordPress cacheing plugins. WP Rocket and WP Super Cache are often recommended.

Perhaps you don’t need WordPress

WordPress is a fantastic tool. It offers so many options in terms of functionality and design. And it has an interface that many people are familiar with and find easy to use.

WordPress stores your posts, pages and products in a database, which allows for tremendous flexibility in how they are used. It’s perfect to people who regularly produce blogs or news stories, sell products or offer complex interaction with users.

However, if your website is primarily about presenting promotional information to your users then the constant calls to a separate database might not be necessary. And they might be slowing your site down.

Static sites, which serve information from files on the server, without recourse to a database, can be incredibly quick to load. I’ve used static site generators such as Jekyll to build attractive and blazing fast sites. And while Jekyll requires a bit of technical knowledge to set up, there are a number of add-ons which allow for easy updating of content by non-technical users. It’s always worth thinking about for your project.

I can help you

If you want help with optimising your site or any of the issue above then do get in touch. I offer a full web design and development service, including WordPress development, to organisations in Brighton and beyond. Email me or call me on 07810 828359.

© 2019 Sim Brody