Ever wondered what qualities all professional web designs have? You know, those designs that seem to have visitors glued to their screens? And actually drive sales and profits? This post will answer this question for you so you can build an attractive, engaging, and useful website.
Over 80% of consumers conduct online product research before purchasing it in a physical store. When they visit your website, it only takes them 50 milliseconds to decide whether they will stay and engage with it or head for the exit. That snap decision can sway them to proceed with their purchase, or not.
This just goes to show that the success of your website, and to a certain extent your business, depends on your website design. Here are eight principles of good web design to guide you in creating an appealing and effective website.
1. Clean and Simple Design
There are more than 400 billion websites in the world today, many of which have too many design elements on them. The risk of having an over-designed web page is its high potential to confuse your visitors and divert them from your main message.
In a 2013 study, researchers found out that more visually complex websites (e.g., those with high contrast between design elements) were less likely to impress users. Simple designs are more appealing and less likely to distract them from what they are supposed to do on your web page. Generally speaking, websites with minimalist and simple designs also require simpler codes, resulting in faster loading times on different devices and browsers.
2. Visually Appealing to Your Target Customers
The same 2013 study concluded that age, gender, and education level influence a person’s impression of a website. Since your customers’ design preferences vary, it is very important to factor your customer data into your web design process. This way, you will know what type of images, colours, type, and text length, among other features, they find appealing.
Remember that almost 40% of customers will stop using an unattractive and slow-loading website. While the standards of attractiveness and speed vary from person to person, it will be best to avoid having pixelated images, inconsistent branding, and broken links or pages.
3. Proper Number and Arrangement of Visual Elements
A website’s visual complexity is linked to its structure or how the information on a page is distributed spatially. If a page has too many words and images and the colours are overwhelming, you will most likely fail to make a positive impression on your visitors.
When designing your website, take balance, symmetry, and equilibrium into account. Symmetry means that the right side of a design element (e.g., images) is proportional to the left side. Balance can be achieved by having an equal number of visual or textual content on all sides of your page: left, right, top, and bottom. Lastly, equilibrium is all about centering the weight around the midpoint of an image or text. Following these three principles will make it easier for your visitors to process the visual information on your website.
4. Appropriate Colour Combinations
We can’t talk about good web design without mentioning colour schemes. Colours evoke emotions, so make sure you choose the ones that will evoke the emotions you want your website visitors to have about your brand.
When choosing a colour scheme, we recommend considering your brand personality and your customer’s preferences, as discussed in the previous point. Choose only 3 to 4 colours to avoid overwhelming your customers. Using complementary and contrasting colours together may also create a pleasant effect on your viewers. Make sure you use white space properly to make your content look easier to read and thus, more engaging for your visitors.
Read more: How are Colours Used in Web Design?
5. Clear and Intuitive Navigation
Consumers like websites that they can intuitively navigate, that feature easy-to-find information and easy-to-understand call to action copy. If your navigation is vague and complicated, your visitors will be far less interested in coming back for a second visit.
To ensure your website has clear and intuitive navigation, we suggest you create a logical page hierarchy, use breadcrumbs, and add action buttons. Make sure that there are no broken links between your pages for seamless web browsing. Following the “three-click-rule” so that your customers can find the information they are looking for in just three clicks will also boost their user experience.
Read more: Trade-offs: clicks vs content vs clutter
6. Good Scannability
Unless your visitors are avid readers, chances are they will not read your copy word for word. Instead, they will either scan or skim through your web content.
When you’re writing copy for your home page, make sure that you have all the key points covered:
- A headline that states your unique selling proposition
- An overview of your company
- Contact information
- Social proof (e.g., testimonials, reviews, and media features)
- Clear and compelling call-to-action buttons
- Short forms
Organise the hierarchy of your content this way: place the most important content at the top and the least important at the bottom. The proper use of headings, subheadings, and bullet points will also break up walls of text and improve your page’s scannability.
7. Responsive Design
Since the advent of smartphones and tablets, mobile traffic has been on the rise. More than half of the world’s web traffic comes from mobile devices, and this will continue to grow as more and more people use their smartphones for their online activities.
Use a mobile site testing tool to check how your website appears on multiple devices. If it looks off and your text is hard to read, it means you have not optimised your website for mobile use yet. The consequence of that is you’re losing your mobile market share to your competitors. You can prevent this from happening by working with a web designer who is an expert in responsive web design. A responsive web design automatically adjusts to any screen size without slowing down its speed or reducing the quality of your visual content. This makes your website appealing to both desktop and mobile users.
Read more: How Does a Responsive Web Design Work?
8. Fast Loading Speed
Speed is essential in making a sale, especially if you are on a digital platform. If your web pages take a long time to load, your customers will be inclined to go to your competitors instead. Almost 50% of users actually expect websites to load within 2 seconds. To check whether your web pages meet this high standard, use speed testing tools like GTMetrix and Pingdom. These tools also provide recommendations on how you can improve your loading speed.
Good Web Design Involves Art, Science and Strategy
Good web design is not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional and user-friendly. It requires you to examine your current customer profile, apply established and innovative web design principles, and exercise your critical thinking skills to deliver the kind of user experience that your visitors will keep coming back to.