The design of your website is crucial to its performance in terms of search engine traffic and on-site conversions. Web design is far more sophisticated than putting up lots of nice pictures and thousands of words in content. It’s a practice in branding and marketing.
You want visitors to find information and be engaged, and when they are it’s illustrated in bounce rates, pages per visit, time on site and conversions. Here are 7 tips that will help you build a site that gets you the results you want:
1. Keep it simple.
The trend in website design today is elegant simplicity. Users want less scrolling and less hunting for information. Stick with the conventions of most web designs so visitors can find information in the way they are used to.
Don’t offer too many options or you fall prey to the Paradox of Choice. When people have too much choice the labour over the decision and often choose nothing. Eliminate distractions and use filters when necessary:
2. Embrace white space.
White space makes creators nervous – writers, designers, advertisers all feel like it should be filled with information or images. However, white space helps the viewer process the information.
Eye tracking studies have shown that visitors scan web pages in an F-shape. Make this easier by dividing the content with white space, and including bold, italics, and subheadings.
3. Design for the user, not yourself.
A web design style you love may not be what your visitors need. User-centric design is the best way to get visitors navigating your website and buying your products. The purpose of your website should be obvious – users want to know in the first 5 seconds that they’ve arrived in the right place.
Features should be easy to use and every page should fill a need for the user. Visitors to your site should leave with no questions about your product or service.
4. Know that the writing matters.
Visitors typically land on your website looking for information and that’s what you need to give them. That doesn’t mean load up your pages with as much content as possible, text needs to be simple and engaging. People ignore promotional and exaggerated language; they skip over large blocks of text.
Get to the point with your copy. Communicate your features and benefits objectively – readers hate feeling like they’re being sold to. Make the layout scannable and avoid jargon. If you feel like you’re in over your head, hire a professional web copywriter who can tell you the right way to word your sentences to get results.
5. Use the right colours.
A good designer knows a little bit about the psychology of colour and has an eye for complementary colour schemes. People make associations with different colours and colour schemes, which is why you’ll find festival websites with dark backgrounds and bright text, meanwhile beauty websites tend you use lighter, more comforting palettes.
Colours have an effect on the emotions of website users and vibrant colours can draw attention to certain things. Make your call-to-action buttons stand out. For example, Amazon uses yellow when they want a user to take an action:
6. Don’t stop testing.
Usability guru Steve Krug states that testing one user is 100% better than testing none. It’s best to do it early in the project when changes are less expensive.
User testing will always provide useful information that you can’t see when you’re too close to the project. Once you know how the website works, you won’t have the objectivity to find the problems that may block users.
7. Make it mobile-friendly.
With almost 20% of traffic arriving from mobile technology, making your website compatible with these devices is a no-brainer. Analysts at Morgan Stanley believe that mobile users will rule the internet by 2015, overtaking desktop Internet users.
There are two options for mobile-friendly websites: giving the site a responsive layout so it adjusts to different screen sizes or a separate mobile site that is optimised for tablets and smartphones. Your designer should discuss the pros and cons of each.
Build a beautiful website, but make sure it’s functional too. If you’ve got a website that needs optimising or a need a website to be built, feel free to get in touch to get things started in the right way.