Top 7 Tips for Designing a Great Website
Check out our seven best ways to design a website that shines (and converts)
You may think that looks don't matter, but appearance is everything about branding. Of course, the content of any website is essential, but an aesthetically pleasing, welcoming, and functional website design will genuinely draw in visitors and keep them engaged. Your online presence is the first impression customers have of your business, so you'll want to ensure it's a good one that appropriately communicates your messaging.
Good, straightforward web design developed by professional web design agencies can be costly, but it doesn't have to be. Knowing what simple aspects of your website to focus on can impact customers with the least effort and lowest cost.
Check out our seven best ways to design a website that shines (and converts) below!
Set Yourself Apart
Imagine walking into a shopping center where every storefront looks the same. All the signs, displays, and products look so similar that before long, you can't tell what's what, and it no longer seems to matter which store you buy from.
This is what happens with many online stores. Cookie-cutter and off-the-shelf business website designs are cheap and quick to use, making them irresistible. But, in the long run, it's better to invest time and money upfront into creating a unique website to draw attention and build brand awareness from the beginning.
From your type of typography to the colors, web design, layouts, and more, every piece of your online presence will culminate into what customers see as your distinct brand identity. The more easily recognizable you become to visitors, the better they remember you. And the better they'll remember you, the more likely they'll be to return or recommend your business to a friend.
Think of your website as your virtual storefront where your product pages are your displays, and your homepage is your front door. How do you entice customers to come inside, and what can you do to make them stay? Upon entering, visitors should know with only a glance a little about who you are, what you sell, and what sets you apart from the competition.
Time is money sales
Imagine there are two stores on a block that sell similar products. Will you go to the one with a line out the door or the one that's empty? Even if the less busy store looks a bit more run-down, doesn't have as many products, or isn't the most aesthetically pleasing, you'll probably save time and shop there rather than wait for something marginally better. This goes for your website too. Every second your visitors have to wait for your site to load is a second they might decide to go somewhere else. It doesn't matter how great your branding or products and services are if it takes too long to see them.
To avoid this, you must ensure that whatever visual elements you add to your website are backed up by the necessary power. Animations and graphics can dramatically slow down a site, especially if your bandwidth or infrastructure needs to be equipped to handle them. You'll also want to consider your website traffic, as too many visitors can quickly slow down a site. It can be worth spending a few extra bucks on a better server if it means it will be faster or more capable of handling the load. You may consider buying more than you currently need if you're looking to increase, so you'll be prepared before speeds decrease without switching providers when you have waiting, customers.
The best strategy for ensuring your website is quick to load is to test and adapt depending on your website's needs. You must ensure that your site is fast to load when you launch and conduct periodic check-ins to see how it's doing over time, especially if you make significant changes, add pages or website elements, or start to see increased visitors. Don't panic if you begin to see your loading time decrease, but try to fix the problem as quickly as possible.
Over 2 billion people have visual impairments, and 300 million are color blind. Ignoring the needs of such potential customers is a surefire way to lose thousands, if not millions, of sales. If buyers can't use your site, they won't buy from you. Simple as that. So it's essential to cater to those of all needs to make an area accessible to anyone and everyone who might become a paying customer.
Make sure your text is legible and generous to help those with visual impairments or add easy ways to zoom in and enlarge text. You can even add built-in captioning or auditory aids that will read the website text aloud. Meanwhile, be careful of the color of your design elements, especially when it comes to text, as those with color blindness might not be able to read them. The safe bet is to stick with opposite colors for important elements you wish to stick out, such as descriptions and calls to action. You can also download specific plugins to help assess your site's accessibility.
Go with the Flow
Not only should your website look good, but it should be functional. Unique elements and out-of-the-box thinking can be significant for design, but it might be best to stick with the standard and more traditional methods to flow those elements. Visitors are used to a particular website organization and will rely on those past experiences to know where to go or need help navigating.
Think of this like signage in your storefront; if a customer needs help finding the sections and products they're looking for, they won't locate what they want to buy and will likely become frustrated and leave. Most website visitors are looking to avoid making things aimlessly. They're trying to find something specific and should be able to find it easily. In their search, they will have little time or interest to interact or read all the elements on your web page, only those that are eye-catching or speak to what they're looking for.
Making sure your headlines and site navigation are easy to find by labeling and adding images to your text can help make your web pages easier to sort through. A well-organized site is better for customer usability and has the added benefit of being more attractive to search engines.
Building a beautiful storefront is a great way to pique the interest of potential customers. But it will only be possible if the products within deliver. The content on your website should be up to par with your design, or you'll risk not only losing the interest of visitors, who will feel you've let them down on their expectations but search engines. Part of ranking well for SEO is having quality content that is comprehensive, original, and provides further references and links to other relevant sources.
The more content you have, the more opportunities you'll have to catch a reader's eye and turn them into buyers. But you can't sacrifice quality for quantity. This goes not only for the new but the old. Update existing content and test links regularly to ensure they're still working to keep customers and search engines happy. And always be on the hunt for new ideas. If you're constantly repeating the same information, your visitors have no reason to keep returning. The best way to develop concepts is to pay attention to what your customers want and need. What questions are they asking? What problems do they have that you might be able to fix? Make sure what you produce is relevant to your audience.
Web Design and Development
Although design and development go hand in hand when creating a successful website, they differ. While design relates to the outward-facing aspects of your site, development is the backend, the cogs, and gears that make all those beautiful pages work to the best of their ability.
Development takes place in two areas: the front end and the back end. Front-end development is client-facing work that ensures the elements customers interact with are working correctly. Backend development allows your site to communicate with the servers and databases it needs to function correctly, whether that be ensuring your payment system is working to assisting with scripting and web server configuration.
These two separate steps often need clarification, perhaps because many experts can do both. But, although you can find talented developers who are skilled in many areas, you'll want to make sure you have someone who is an expert in all the specific aspects of your site so everything runs as it should. This may mean building a dedicated team. But it's worth ensuring you have a site that works beautifully and looks beautiful.
Modern Customers Love Mobile-Friendly
Today's modern consumer is unlikely to visit your site on a desktop, or if they do, they'll probably also travel to your mobile version at some point. Mobile device traffic will undoubtedly be a large part of what you see on your site and should be addressed. You'll want to put just as much time and effort into ensuring your site looks and works great, whether scrolled through on a small smartphone screen or a wide display. Part of this might be ensuring that your brand is social media friendly, which can help to draw in mobile users and make sharing and recommending your products and services much more accessible. Or it may also mean investing in an app to engage your target audience.
The opportunities for website design are endless, but by following these seven essential tips, you can create a great site that will look amazing and work well for you and your customers. Remember that when selling online, your website is your store and requires the proper attention and care to appeal to and engage customers in a way that will keep them coming back for more. Excellent products will go a long way in building a loyal customer base but will be much more successful when showcased on a gorgeous, functional website.