8 Do’s & Don’ts of a Great Web Design
With thousands of templates available online, it has never been easier to create a website quickly and easily. Just because a website is serviceable or functional, however, does not make it effective. Conversely, just spending a lot of money to have a website custom designed still does not guarantee that it will be your best marketing tool – which is exactly what it should be. While it’s very easy to just slap something together, the truth is, you will get out of your website exactly what you put into it. Great web design is specifically engineered to elicit a certain response from a very specific market segment. Here are 8 tips on the do’s and don’ts of quality web design.
1. Design very specifically and strategically for your target audience
Walk into any clothing store in the US and you will find hundreds of items of clothing and accessories in an extremely limited color palette. Almost everything in the store, from the displays to the advertising to the clothing itself will all be the result of thousands of individual design choices all aimed towards attracting a very specific demographic. Everything you see, touch and hear is all carefully chosen with one very specific audience in mind. Your website is the primary means of connecting with your target market, which means every single pixel needs to be designed specifically to draw in and attract a very specific audience. This means you need to know if they prefer harsh and angular lines or soft and flowing curves. Do they prefer bold, bright colors or an endless array of neutrals? Are they analytical thinkers that prefer rigid schedules or free thinkers that never met a deadline they could meet? The more you narrow down your target consumer base to a very specific type of individual, the more you will be able to design a website just for them. The better you know your audience, the more powerfully you will connect with them.
2. Keep it simple
Chances are at some point, you have walked past a store display and had your eyes drawn to a snazzy coat, nice pair of shoes or a handbag. Chances are also, there was very little else in the window. While the window may have been lit very strategically to draw the eye to the item in question, it is unlikely there were any flashing lights or arrows pointing your eye to it. In fact, if the object had been surrounded by flashing lights or arrows, you very likely would have missed the object entirely because your brain would have been distracted by all the “noise.” Studies show that people look at a website in a very specific pattern. You want to place high-quality images, information, and photos in strategic locations, but keep the design incredibly simple.
3. Use responsive design
At one time, websites were made for desktops because that’s what everyone used – there were no mobile devices. Then mobile devices came along and desktop sites became unwieldy, difficult to load and hard to navigate. The rise in mobile usage led to an era of optimizing for mobile. Optimizing for mobile, however, often meant stripping away content until all that was left was a skeletal framework with very little content. As mobile device usage grew, however, users wanted the content on their mobile devices that they were able to access on desktop sites. Then came a long stream of tablets and various sized mobile devices, not to mention various sized laptop and desktop screens. Responsive design takes the same basic information and optimizes it for the type of device it is being used on. A visitor using a smartphone will see smaller versions of lower resolution images, which load faster but look better on a smaller screen, while a visitor using a giant display will see high-resolution images laid out to fit the size of the screen. Before you go live, it is a good idea to view your website on a number of different devices of various sizes and formats.
4. Incorporate social media and call to action buttons
Your website should be your very best marketing tool, the ultimate goal of which is to sell your product or service. While it is certainly there to educate, inform and maybe even entertain, that is not the primary goal – unless you are charging visitors just for being there. That means at every turn and on every page, you need to offer opportunities for your audience to respond. Blogs should end in some kind of call to action, whether it is to share the information on social media, share their own experience in the comments or even to contact you for more information. Contact buttons should be peppered throughout the site along with invitations to order now, read more or call for a free consultation. People will generally do what you ask them to do, so every page and every section should issue some type of invitation to take further action.
1. Overwhelm your visitors with too much content and information
People are visual creatures and we process visual information roughly 60,000 times faster than textual information. When designing a website, think of a designer home versus the home of a hoarder. Designer homes tend to have minimal furniture in grand, open, airy spaces. Interior designers also use light and color to draw the eye to very specific focal points. That doesn’t mean some people don’t love leopard prints, neon lights and bright colors, it just means good designers know how to incorporate even the bawdiest elements into an elegant composition. Walk into the home of a hoarder, however, and you are hit with a cacophony of chaos, which is also true of many websites. In web design as in life, less is more. No matter what kind of product you sell, business you run, or service you offer, the design of your website itself should be simple, streamlined and intuitive, even if you incorporate more “kitchy” elements into the design. Think pops of color or extremely subtle animations rather than the digital equivalent of a nightclub – even if your business happens to be a nightclub.
2. Place third-party ads on your site
While you should use Google Ads or AdSense to display ads on other sites, you should not use third-party advertising on your site unless you genuinely need the revenue. The point of your website is to educate and inform your audience about your product or service. The last thing you want them to do is to click through to another website via an advertisement. The bottom line is, you want to do everything you can to get traffic to your website, but once they are there, the name of the game is to keep them there as long as possible. Preferably until they buy or sign up for something. Even if you incorporate links to other high-quality sites in your content (which you should do), you should make sure they open up in a new window rather than transporting them completely away from your site. When they are done reading the third-party content, you want them to close that window and find yours still open.
3. Forget to do regular audits
While evergreen content certainly has its place, the truth is a business website should offer consistently up-to-date information about your products and services as well as information about current events in your industry. It is important to go through all of your content at least annually, if not quarterly, to ensure all information is up-to-date and that it offers currently relevant information. While it’s fine to have archives, the truth is, unless you are a blogger or your content is a direct part of your business, you might consider culling your content down occasionally to only the most currently relevant pieces. The truth is, you may have tips & tricks or how-to videos for a product you no longer offer, a guest post from a person who is no longer relevant in your industry or blog posts written by staff that no longer even work for your company.
Digital Nomad Designs includes monthly audits in our regular website maintenance service.
4. Forget to incorporate SEO at every level
While most businesses are aware of the need for good SEO in their blogs and other content, the truth is, good SEO starts in the very framework of the site itself. Over time, of course, you may build up a good catalog of content, but strategic keywords should also appear everywhere from menus to headlines to copy. Long before you build your catalog of content, you need to get traffic to your site to find it. From the second you go live, embedding keywords and other good SEO elements into the basic structure of your site will help search engines start connecting you with your audience, which in turn will help search engines move you to the top of the right results listings.
These are the eight Do’s and Don’t of creating a website with a high-quality web design. As always if you would like us to expand on any of the points or would like a free website audit, you’ll want to contact us here.