Deciding on a design is one of the most exciting and challenging parts of a website development project. The design has to simultaneously bring functionality to life and showcase your content all while supporting your marketing and communications goals. Successful web design can have a positive impact on your website’s ability to attract and hold visitors attention, but poor web design and do just the opposite and have a damaging effect on your credibility.
Visitors judge your website in a matter of seconds. Marketers often refer to the “Blink Test” which simply means, can a visitor scan your website in 3-5 seconds and asses your content, judge it and decide if they want to stay there, do something, or leave. This split second decision is the harsh reality we need to understand and plan for. Every visitor that lands on your website represents another potential customer. These simple tips can help you ensure your website design passes the blink test and paints your brand in a good light.
Build Pages that load quickly
Your pages need to load fast! How fast? Really, really fast. According to a study done by Gomez, the average online shopper expects a page to load in two seconds or less, down from four seconds in 2006; and after three seconds, up to 40% will abandon your website.
Short, simple copywriting
Sure, it’s an ego boost to use industry jargon and put yourself up on a pedestal with all your fancy talk, but when your website visitors are evaluating your website in less than 5 seconds you need to keep your copy tight, simple and to the point.
Contrast is a great way to draw attention to the hierarchy of content presented on a page. The effective use of contrast tells visitors where their eyes should scan first. Contrast can be conveyed through colors, fonts and weights. It is very important to choose font colors that provide enough contrast that the reader can quickly scan the copy and easily read your message.
To keep your design clean, focus on a limited selection of fonts or font families. Too many typefaces can ruin even the most-detailed project. Use variants within font families for variety. Different sizes, cases, weights and color can add variety and contrast without having to add additional fonts. As a general rule, most sites can be built using just two typeface families.
The quality of your website design, product photography and copy have a huge impact on viewers perception of your brand. In fact, in a recent survey of more than 200 buyers of B2B services “Professional Website Design and Presentation” ranked as the fourth most important website element.
Interface simplicity is a crucial element in showcasing your most important calls-to-action and keeping your website visitors focused on what matters the most. Simplicity starts with effective information architecture: the very first stage of any website development process.
Ease of navigation
Keywords, social media, and PPC get visitors to your landing page, but from there your navigation needs to guide your visitors to the next stage of their journey. Your website’s navigation should be intuitive and easy to use. One of the first steps we take in all of our website development projects is a complete sitemap and overall architecture of your site. If functionality is the foundation, your sitemap is the framing. This isn’t a place to get creative. You should use standard terminology for your navigation so that it’s immediately understandable.
Use descriptive images
Everyone has heard the age old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. This proves just as true for website design. But don’t be fooled, you don’t want 1000 of the wrong words. If you sell a physical product, you should invest in professional product photography and for those who are selling digital goods or services, professional graphic design can make a huge improvement to our websites visual appeal.
Optimize for mobile and tablet
46% of mobile users report having difficulty interacting with a web page, and 44% complain that navigation was difficult. If you haven’t optimized your website for mobile and tablet viewers you are missing potential sales opportunities. Plain and simple.
Make it easy to take the next step
As the the blink test states, your website should present information in a clear and concise way so visitors can scan you page in less than 5 seconds. Clear calls-to-action make it easy for the visitor to take the next step- watch a demo video, download a whitepaper, or sign up for a free trial.
Want to learn more about website design best practices?
Download our Website Redesign Guide to learn how the strategic alignment of your website’s functionality, design, and content will help you achieve your marketing objectives. The Website Redesign Guide outlines critical questions you should understand when considering a new website, including how functionality is the foundation for your website, the importance of responsive design, and why content trumps all.