Web design can get complicated. There are the big-ticket items, like the overall layout and user experience, and then there’s the smaller details, like which colors you choose and what type of graphics you include.
But the truth is, whether the element seems big or small, it can have a huge impact on the design overall. In fact, a study by a web credibility research team at Stanford indicates that as much as 75% of consumers judge the credibility of a company by the design of their branded website.
So if boosting company growth is a goal — and it always is — then excellent web design is a must.
How can you build great web design, regardless of the type of company it is for? Let’s take a look at five important factors.
Keep It Simple
Simple is the new complicated, and if that sentence itself is difficult to wrap your brain around, it just goes to show how true it is. As a species, we are attracted to simplicity. It signifies that we can handle it, it won’t overwhelm us, and it will make us feel good.
The last thing you want to do is make your visitor back out of your site because of information overload, or because it’s too complex to navigate.
Focus on clarity of information and transmission. A great way to do this is to design a site with plenty of white space, or negative space. This doesn’t have to be a literal “white” space, of course. But if you include a neutral zone, whether it’s a soothing background image or pattern, it gives the important elements of the design room to breathe, and keeps your site from looking cluttered.
Cluttered is the opposite of simple. Your site shouldn’t look like a roadside antique shop. Strip the unnecessary elements away, and render the necessary ones down to facilitate ease of use and visual appeal.
Focus on User Experience
This one’s a no-brainer, right? But sometimes web designers do forget that it isn’t all about visual appeal — it’s about anticipating the wants and needs of the visitor.
Do you know why the UX is so important? Because it drives traffic — away from the site.
A whopping 88% of consumers are unlikely to give a site a second chance after they have a bad experience. So if someone pops on to your site, finds that it doesn’t work as expected, that they’re unable to find what they need, or that the loading times are too long, they will likely back right out and give up right away… on both the site and the company that runs it. If a company can’t ensure good web design and excellent UX, why would the consumer seek out further investment?
As you work through your design, make sure to look at it from the point of view of a new visitor. What will they want? When will they want it? Make the site about delivering an excellent experience, and it will directly increase both effectiveness and visitor retention.
Make it Beautiful
Of course, just because the visual appeal of a site isn’t the be-all and end-all, that doesn’t mean that your aesthetics don’t deserve some attention!
In fact, 38% of website visitors will back out of engaging with a given site if they don’t think the layout or design is visually appealing. While that isn’t an overwhelming majority, it is certainly enough to tell us that our visual appeal has a big impact on the effectiveness of the site.
Website visuals include everything from color choices, to font choices, to graphics and even branded visuals like logos for Internet websites — and each individual aspect needs to be harmonized. If your visual elements clash, the design will work against itself. Consistency and harmony are keywords for good visual appeal.
Utilize Conversion Tools
A company website is only as good as its effectiveness rate. For most sites, it’s about turning a casual visit into active investment and engagement. That means different things for different companies or organizations, but the tools that you can use in your site design will work the same, regardless.
Calls to action, or CTAs, are major conversion tools that are often overlooked, with data indicating that as much as 70% of small businesses do not have a CTA on their homepage. But a well-executed CTA is a great tool for conversion, because it directly tells the viewer what to do, and how to do it. On top of that, they can clarify the immediate benefit. A well-designed CTA would be above the fold on the landing page or main page, typically to the left or right, and in the form of a button that would include the CTA (“Click here!”) and benefit (“...and get 20% off your first order!”)
Design Around Your Focal Points
Every web page should be designed with a purpose. As the designer, it’s up to you to determine what that purpose is, and then decide how to highlight it.
You don’t want your visitor to come to your site and miss the main point entirely. But you also don’t want to resort to gigantic neon arrows pointing at the main content, either. Subtlety in design is highly sought-after.
Eye-tracking research suggests that we approach websites the same way we approach reading a book, so an F-shaped layout for your highlighted content is the most effective in making sure that your visitors actually pay attention to what matters. Start with the top left corner, and grid your content in the shape of a capital F, with less important content in between the main lines.
A well-designed site is focused on doing what it is designed to do, rather than getting distracted by extra features or unnecessary frills. When in doubt, remember that simplicity is one of the best ways to ensure good web design, as it creates a better user experience, enhances visual appeal, highlights conversion tools, and helps your viewer to focus on what’s really important during their visit.
With these five key points factored into your web design, you can push your website ever closer to its ultimate goals, and create a site that you can truly be proud of.
Meet Dan Jenkins, a freelance blogger with a penchant for video streaming and all things electronics. He likes to dig deep into topics he writes about whether it is graphic design or gadget reviews. He likes collecting CDs and music records.