Pulling your website design together can be a painstaking process, especially when you are unsure of what needs to be in a good website design. This article was designed to help you pull together the essential web design elements that are important in today’s internet.
Visual Website Design
First impressions are absolutely vital to nail in this age of instant gratification. Your website design needs to make not just a great but also a lasting first impression. Just as the phrase implies, you only get one “first”.
This will be the only time your visitor will get a first impression so make it count.
Web trends change similar to fashion trends. Things that are en vogue now may be out of date in one or two years. Make sure that your site doesn’t suffer the doldrums of stagnation. It is important that you put your best foot forward and entice your visitor to want to stay.
Your imagery needs to be aesthetic and pleasing to the eye. It needs to capture your website visitors attention and hold them on the page and lure them into even further investigation of your site.
User-friendly Website Design
No one likes to go to a website where they feel like they are lost from the moment they get on the page. When it is difficult to find anything on the page or the page doesn’t seem to have a logical flow many times people simply go to your competitors website or elsewhere to see if they can find the information they need there.
A website that has the complete user experience in mind is one that will keep their visitors eyes on the page and the visitor will likely return simply due to the ease of use and the great experience they had.
Returning visitors are great for a host of reasons including:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google uses site visitation metrics in their algorithms that determine rank.
- Increased traffic may bring page sharing and backlinking because of your appearance as a site that has quality information that is easy to use.
- Increased likelihood of making the returning visitor a paying customer.
One example of the latter are these statistics that from an ecommerce store that we have helped grow over the past 6 months.
This image details the site visitors and breaks them into new vs returning visitors.
The returning visitor conversion rate is almost 4 times higher than new visitors.
Notice 36% of the site visitors are responsible for 68% of all sales within the site.
Responsive Website Design
When looking at the myriad of devices that display web content, it can be mind boggling just how many varying screen-sizes that there are. If you want your website to be seen by visitors then your site needs to be able to adapt to any screen size from any manufacturer.
So many screen sizes, how do we make the site fit them all?
When you consider that people now browse from computers with monitor screen sizes that range from 17” to 65”, It creates thoughts of how are we going to adapt to all of those sizes. However, in 2015 the statistics inverted for where people spend more time browsing the web.
Now more than ever before, people are browsing your site on their mobile device like a tablet, cell phone, or other hand-held device like an iPod.
There are multiple ways to ensure that your device is ready to be seen on any device
When looking for ways to make your site mobile responsive there are 3 primary methods for doing so. You can create a separate site specifically for mobile devices and forward mobile devices to that site.
You can build your site using CMS platforms and use plugins that help your site be better viewed on mobile, or you can simply create your site using a mobile-first responsive design with tools like Grid, bootstrap or AMP.
One option some site owners choose is to simply create a mobile version of their site, that is separate from their standard site. In fact, this is something that Facebook did even as recently as 2 years ago.
However, this type of solution is rapidly going out of style and not recommended going forward. Even Facebook has made the switch to mobile responsive web development. The largest drawback of this type of site is the added expense of maintaining two separate instances of the same site.
Another option for making your site mobile friendly is to create it in a CMS that is either geared toward mobile devices like Sitefinity or Contentful or one that has plugins available that will allow you to create your site with a mobile first design like WordPress using an AMP plugin.
These types of CMS systems sometimes come with backend “baggage”. This extra weight that comes with the CMS can sometimes slows down your site delivery. This speed hit will force you to place your site in servers that are optimized for those CMS systems or force content through a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Each of those options carries additional costs.
The final primary option is to simply create a website design that is mobile-first in all aspects. This can, of course, be carried out in a few different ways.
One options is the google-backed AMP platform which adds coding to the HTML5 standards so that your page content is delivered differently depending on the device viewing screen size.
Other options include using layout design tools like Grid and Bootstrap.
Along with defining design elements like columns, both of these tools are predicated on simply using basic coding elements that can easily be styled dependent upon screen size.
To begin with, it is important that you make sure that you are correctly defining your viewport through proper meta-tags.
When designing and developing your website it is important to make sure that the code elements being used are conducive to mobile device adaptation. For example, if your site is built using an early 2000’s style layout with html tables being the primary format for laying out the site, you are bound for troubles.
However, if you are using tags with the properly applied CSS you are going to have a great deal more success in having your website be more natively adaptive to mobile devices.
One option for handling this css appropriately is to handle your css file calls dependent on the screen size. This means that you will have different css files that are screen size dependent.
Another option is to use css media queries that properly attributes styles based on screen width. Make sure when you are doing this, you avoid making desktop version the standard style.
Website Navigation Design
Your navigation is the central direction-finding system on your website. Regardless of how big or small your website is, your navigation should put people on the right path to finding the content they are looking… quickly.
If your website has a high number of pages then it is important that the navigation not be over-burdened with too many links, making it hard to even see what the options are.
Your navigation should point people to the main content areas of your site that have additional navigation menus within those pages.
Whether you position your navigation menus at the top or on the side is largely irrelevant, what is more important is the user experience with those tools.
It is imperative that they be easy to navigate and obvious in location, which can be tricky on smaller screens like mobile devices.
Yes, even your navigation menus need to be mobile responsive.
Nothing is more irritating than going to a website on your mobile device and finding out that the navigation menu is not mobile responsive.
Usually in those instances, the text is so small that you need to zoom in on the page just to see the link. This problem is amplified when trying to get your fat fingers to hit the appropriate link for the content you wish to view.
Many times if your site is that irritating to use your visitor will simply leave due to the difficulty of use. In most domains there are other options for finding the information that your user is looking for.
If there is too much friction in the user experience, there is simply no reason to stick around and even less to return later.
Website Call-to-Action Design
The most important function of a call-to-action within your website is to create urgency. Your call-to-action needs to quickly and simply detail the importance of taking action immediately.
It needs to clearly state that you are the business or individual that will be able to meet that immediate need.
A great technique to use within your call-to-action is a promise of something for nothing or something at a discount.
You’ll notice that more and more successful businesses offer free trials, free e-books, special discounts, and other such benefits. You may even want to offer a bonus for acting now.
Don’t let your visitors be pushed away by the same old game as everyone else. Let them see that you are offering bigger and better for less.
There will always be an opportunity to upsell later or offer a more premium service once they have started using yours and come to trust your brand.
Another important part of the call-to-action is the placement of it. The most obvious thing to remember is to put your CTA on the page where it is most relevant.
For example, if your business is a full service general contractor you wouldn’t want to put a CTA for painting services on your blog page that talks about the importance of hurricane rated doors and windows.
Each page should have CTAs that are relevant to the content on that page.
Assuming that you are doing that, you should have 2 or more CTAs on each of your pages that provides quality content.
The first CTA should be at the top of the sales funnel near the educational stage. This may be where you offer them free information about a specific product or service that you offer. This offer of something for nothing may be all it takes to put them into your email campaigns in order to work them through the rest of the sales funnel there.
Your second CTA should be further down the page once they’ve received a bit more education from your website to actually move out on this new-found knowledge. If you have a lot of content on a page it is advantageous to repeat these CTAs accordingly.
Remember, when it comes to creating CTAs, there is no magic bullet.
Time is always the best gauge of effectiveness. Don’t just continue to use a CTA that isn’t working. Use A-B testing to find the right message that gets your visitors to engage at that next level.
Even if it takes a few cycles or more to find the right messaging, the results will be well worth the investment.
Website Content Design
Content is King, remember this truth.
In this article we have saved the best for last simply because it should be the most obvious. People are coming to your site because they were referred to you, they found you while searching for information, or maybe they even clicked on an ad.
Regardless of how they got there, they are there for the content of your website.
Your content needs to be more engaging, informational, and appealing to the eye than your competitor’s website, if you want them to stay on your website longer and return later for an even better shot at converting them into a sale.
Too many businesses think that simply writing a few paragraphs on each page and throwing in a few pictures is enough to provide their visitors with what is needed to make a decision. Honestly, in some cases this may be true.
There are some visitors that are aware of a product or service and simply want to know if you offer it. Those visitors are ready to buy but are far from being a normal website visitor.
Most visitors need to be educated about the benefits of your product or service and need to understand why you are the best bang for their buck.
Starting off that relationship with high quality information provided in an engaging manner can be worth its weight in gold as your visitor is educated into business with your company.
From the words on the page to the graphics, pictures, and videos used to accentuate them, your content needs to keep their eyes on your website for as long as possible. It also needs to leave them with food for thought that brings them back over and over until they become a conversion.
Never stop the education process.
Use your internal linking to engage your client. Make them see those internal links on all of your pages so that they continue to bounce back and forth between your site and blog pages.
Doing this and offering those CTAs on each page drives home the urgency you desire for them to have as they consider whether or not they even need your product or service and whether or not you are the company of choice.
Use your content to demonstrate your authority on a subject.
Don’t be afraid to quote information from other sites that also have authority in your domain. This demonstrates the research that you do, in an effort to stay at the top of your game.<
Eventually, you want to build your blog pages so that they are linking to each other for reference and show that on every related topic you provide clear insight and expertise.
When your visitor feels they are getting everything they need from you… why would they go anywhere else?