Updated: Sep 14, 2018
Effective web site design can be the difference between a new conversion and a lost prospect. Check out these tips for effective web site design to make sure you are putting your best foot forward.
Less is more
When it comes to effective web site design, the simpler the better!
Having too many options on your web site can overwhelm visitors and drastically increase the amount of time it takes for them to make a decision. Users came to your site for a reason and unless they themselves a graphic designers...that reason is not going to be just to admire your graphic.
Take a look at your web site. Is there any information on there you don't really need? Simple, sleek designs have proven long lasting and sure to withstand the test of time. Plus they allow users to more easily navigate your site and quickly find the information that really matters to them.
Strategic use of white space can really bring out the wow factor of your web site! White space, also known as negative space, are the areas on your web site that are intentionally left empty. No, it does not necessarily have to be white. White space includes the gutters between images and text blocks, blank areas in the margins of each page, and even the space between letters and words. It may not seem like much, but white space is a very important design element and is imperative to effective web site design.
A picture is worth a thousand words
It may seem cliché, but it's true! Pictures convey a lot more information much quicker than large blocks of text. In truly effective web site design, images can also be strategically placed to guide users to where you want them to go.
When choosing images for your web site, keep in mind that quality is key! All images should be high resolution and should fit the overall style of your website. If you're using stock photos, be careful not to choose ones that look too staged and cheesy.
When possible, replace text on your web site with infographics. They are a great resource to effectively convey information while still grabbing attention. The average user skims a web site rather than reading it in full detail. This is why infographics may be able to convey information more effectively than standard paragraphs.
Aesthetics are everything
No matter how great your content is you could be losing conversions if your web site isn't visually appealing. Three of the most important aesthetic elements for effective website design are colours, typography, and balance.
Warm tones like pinks and yellows make people more excited and energised while cool tones like blues, greens, and purples are more tranquil and calming. Red has even been proven to make people more hungry! Think fast food...Red Rooster, KFC!
Bold/bright colours are best used for call to action buttons to make them stand out, so avoid using these colours in the background of your site. Always keep your branding consistent and keep your audience in mind. Choosing colours that match your logo is a great place to start!
Just be wary of using too many different colours. Using too many different colours is one of the quickest ways to overwhelm users. A maximum of five different colours for effective web site design is a good guide.
Typography has a surprising amount of power over the feel of your web site. For example, ornate, cursive fonts lend an air of sophistication and seriousness while Sans Serif fonts provide a more modern, streamlined feel. There are a few rules to keep in mind for effective website design:
stick to Sans Serif fonts for body text and a font sixe of 12-16pt
a maximum of three typefaces
a maximum of 18 words or 50-80 characters per line and keep paragraphs short and broken up with strategic white space
Conventions are cool!
Being unique is usually a good thing, but it might be a better idea to take advantage of what users are already comfortable and familiar with!
stick to are navigation menus at the top of each page
contact information at the bottom of each page
a clickable logo at the top of the page that will redirect back to the homepage
a search bar at the top of the page, usually on the right-hand side.
links should appear in a different colour or should change colours when users hover over them.
Consistency is key
One of the easiest ways to build trust with your web site visitors is to maintain consistent design elements across your website.
This is pretty much a flow on from using accepted conventions. It includes things like:
maintaining the same navigation or menu bar across the top of each page of your site
keeping the same colour scheme and fonts across each page
maintaining a consistent image style. If you have slightly different layouts to keep your website visually interesting, they need to match. You definitely don't want users clicking onto a new page only to wonder if they've clicked onto a new website entirely!
Let it flow!
Effective web site design is about more than just looking good; the information on your website must flow in a logical and easily followed pattern. People read web pages in what is called an E Format.
This follows the flow of most western language reading patterns. People scan sites starting at the upper left corner, then move across the page to the right, then down on the left side, and back across the page to the right one or two more times. With this format in mind, you should put the most important information on the top left corner of your site and the least important on the bottom right since that is the most frequently ignored area.
Grid-based layouts tend to be the easiest to follow. They keep the information on your site organised in a logical pattern that doesn't look cluttered. People can be turned off by large blocks of text so use headers, sub-headers and bullet points when possible. Keep the natural flow of the eye in mind and make sure it is easy for users to navigate your website.
Critical conversion points, like shop now and contact us buttons, should appear above the fold on your website's homepage. This is a concept that comes from print newspapers where the most important information always appears above the physical fold on the front page. For websites, the metaphorical fold is the point at which you must scroll down to see more of the page. Users should not have to scroll to see the most important information on your site.
Don't forget about user experience (UX)!
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works -Steve Jobs
The success or failure of your website hinges most heavily on usability and functionality. A beautiful website means nothing if it doesn't have an effective user experience. When designing your website, you should always keep the user in mind and cater to their needs.
Some things to keep in mind for effective navigation on your website are:
a logical page hierarchy and clickable buttons - users should be able to find the information they are looking for on your website in three clicks or less.
your visual hierarchy should naturally lead visitors to the most important elements first. This can be done through the use of placements, sizes, and colours.
The best way to ensure your UX is where it needs to be is to have people test out your site. You should also routinely check your site to make sure all links work and everything shows up properly.
As with most things in today's digital age, the key to success in web design is optimisation. You should consistently be testing your website to make sure it is as user-friendly as possible and effectively designed to maximize conversions.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to catch mistakes on your own website. We recommend having other people look it over including friends and professionals who can offer suggestions .
When testing your website for optimisation purposes, remember to view it from multiple different devices, browsers, and operating systems. You want to make sure your site runs properly no matter how visitors are accessing it.
Also, keep in mind that optimization is not a one and done activity. The world of web design changes constantly. You must consistently be updating your website with new information to keep it up-to-date.
All these tips mean nothing if your website is not centred around your goals. A specific end-goal should be at the core of any effective website design strategy.
Of course everything from aesthetics to load time has a direct impact on the likelihood of visitors interacting with your site in a way that meets your goals. The less time someone spends on your page and the less appealing your page is to them, the less likely they are to convert.
The underlying purpose of your website should be evident at all times. Be clear, upfront, and honest about what your website is all about.
So there you have it! Now you have all the information you need to create user-friendly, conversion-driven, effective website design.