We spoke to the CEO of image library iStock, Kelly Thompson, to find out how to make your website's design user-friendly and appealing, even when you're on a budget.
"As design and publishing software has become increasingly accessible, tech-savvy customers have come to expect clean and consistent presentations. The dark days of cluttered and primary-coloured Geocities pages are now firmly - and thankfully! - in the past, and newsletters with rainbow-striped WordArt headings just won’t cut it anymore. Getting your design right doesn’t mean using a dedicated design team, though – following a few basic rules can have you effortlessly headed in the right direction."
Be aware of copyright rules
"While the web is awash with content, it all ultimately belongs to someone. Be aware that using images off Google can lead you into copyright and image quality issues, and logos can be another tricky area to navigate."
Inspiration is there for the taking
"Good ideas are everywhere, and it’s madness to begin any project as a shot in the dark. Look at how others in your space are trying to do similar things, and take inspiration from the best elements of each example. Think about how others have used images to create an effect, and whether you want to duplicate that or go in a different direction entirely."
Choose an aesthetic and stick with it
"Try to keep things looking consistent – it’s often a good idea to use a series of images from the same contributor within an image library, as they often have a similar artistic feel. The biggest bear trap to avoid is mixing photographs with illustrations, a combination which generally looks awkward and jarring."
Use media as a guide, not a distraction
"Well-chosen images, sounds and video are crucial in keeping your customers engaged and attentive, but only if they’re used effectively. A well-chosen image can show a web-user just where to click, draw the reader’s eye to an article or neatly illustrate a key point. Music which auto-plays on a website can be irritating, and lengthy animations can have users scrambling for the skip button. If your use of multimedia distracts from the text, it can take your project a step backwards."
Give designs a personal touch – but take advice on board!
"The best designs have an overarching direction to them, and for that there’s no substitute for having one person in control. But at the same time, remember that your design is there for your users, not for you – make sure you ask widely for opinions, and don’t be defensive of your decisions. If your audience doesn’t like a layout, it’s not doing its job."