Our aim in creating this best practice web design guide is to provide a regularly updated, single point of reference covering best practice approaches for all the topics that anyone involved with website design needs to do an effective job.

At more than 350 pages in length we believe this one of the most comprehensive reports of its kind available, and should provide you with a steer on all the key aspects of website design.

About this Guide

This guide to web design was compiled during the first half of 2007 and covers all the key topics we believe are essential to effective web design.

These include:

  • Accessibility
  • User-centred design and usability
  • Internet marketing planning and improvement process
  • Information architecture and findability
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Web standards
  • Persuasion to deliver business results
  • Web analytics
  • Legal requirements

We don’t include guidance on technical aspects of site design coding using web standards like XHTML, CSS and Javascript although we do cover the importance of agreeing web standards support at the start of a design project.


We have structured the guide around all the design aspects necessary to create a balanced design. There are 14 key aspects of web design which need to be managed for a successful project. These are broken down into six parts which we have made available as separate sections for ease of reference. We have summarised the success factors in a visual success map for effective website design.

Here is an overview of what’s contained within these sections:

PART 1. Strategy and Planning

  • Section 2. Internet marketing planning and improvement process.

PART 2. User-centred design and usability

  • Section 3. User-centred web design process.
  • Section 4. Web usability.

PART 3. Accessibility and Web standards

  • Section 5. Web accessibility.

PART 4. Information Architecture

  • Section 6. Information architecture.
  • Section 7. Visual Design.
  • Section 8. Findability Best Practice Principles.
  • Section 9. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Best Practice Principle.

PART 5. Persuasive Design, copywriting and web analytics

  • Section 10. Persuasive design & copywriting.
  • Section 11. Using web analytics to improve website design effectiveness.

PART 6. Implementation and management

  • Section 12. Technical site requirements.
  • Section 13. The Law – is your site legally compliant?
  • Section 14. Selecting agencies to support web design.

Who this Guide is For

Our guide will help you if you are involved in commissioning, designing or managing a website.

If you are commissioning a website, this guide will give you:

  • Templates for developing a brief for a new website
  • Full details on all the business requirements a website must deliver
  • What to look for in an agency when selecting the core competencies such as visual design, usability, accessibility, information architecture, persuasion and search engine optimisation.

If you are involved in designing a website, this guide will give you:

  • Best practice guidelines for all key aspects of website design including: visual design, usability, accessibility, information architecture, persuasion and search engine optimisation. Benchmark your agency’s capabilities against best practice.
  • A detailed reference for implementation of practical features of websites including home page design, page template layout, navigation, on-site search, search engine optimisation.
  • Inspiration on different design approaches for a range of different sites and features.
  • A review of your capabilities against what businesses are looking for, so helping you pitch more effectively and design better quality sites

If you are managing a website, this guide will give you:

  • A framework to benchmark your site design against competitors.
  • Practical tips on improvements for different aspects of your site like the home page, page templates, navigation and search functionality.
  • Best practice in persuasion through refining your key marketing messages and how they are communicated.


“This is first-rate piece of work that will provide an invaluable reference for anyone involved in the production of websites. This complete collection of what needs to be considered during the design of a website confirms the fact that it’s a truly challenging business, whilst reassuring the reader that there are tools and processes that can come close to guaranteeing a really effective solution.
“I’m personally delighted to see a document that so clearly espouses the broader role that designers must play, beyond the creation of the visual layer, in order to achieve this success.”

Adam Powers, Head of Design, Vision – BBC

“It’s a fantastic resource. I can’t work out how you find the time to consistently produce such in-depth, detailed reports”

David Travis, MD – Userfocus

Related Resources

Check out our other Best Practice Guides, which cover topics like SEO, Paid Search, Online Retail and Managing E-commerce Teams.

We also have a report on Web Project Management that contains plenty of guidelines to help you deliver projects on time and on budget.

Econsultancy also trains web project managers. If you are looking to increase efficiency, streamline your processes or hit your deadlines with less stress, our Web Project Management Training can help.