7 Website Design Best Practices
In many cases, it’ll also be what makes a first impression on members of your target audience — and web design plays a major role in whether that impression is a good one. Visitors will often make snap judgments about your business within seconds of landing on your site, and design can be the factor that determines whether they stick around long enough to learn what you have to offer.
Design also impacts how people interact with your website. It’s what helps them navigate your pages, read your content, and take actions that get them closer to a purchase.
So while web design may seem like a minor consideration, it plays an important role in your entire digital marketing strategy’s success. That’s why on this page, we’ll discuss a few website design best practices for how to design a website so you can maximize your results.
1. Create a design that fits your business
Everyone knows they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover — but that doesn’t stop most people from judging a business by its website. Your web design has a huge impact on how people perceive your business and the quality of your services.
If you already have an established brand, maintaining that brand on your site can go a long way in building trust with visitors. You want them to land on your site and immediately think of your business.
From there, a simple and modern design is often the best choice. Busy designs can distract users from your content and damage their chances of conversion.
You should also make sure that your design is consistent throughout your site. This will provide a cohesive feel and provide users with a positive experience.
There other ways you use design to improve your site’s appearance depend on your company’s brand and goals, but you can consider incorporating eye-catching photos and videos, focusing on readability, or creating standout CTAs. Your design can shape how users interact with your site and which actions they take, and it’s important to have those actions in mind as you work out the details of each page.
2. Opt for simple navigation
Users need to be able to quickly and easily find the information they want on your site. If they can’t access the details they need to make an informed decision, they’re unlikely to convert.
This means that your navigation can be a major factor in your success, and it should be as simple and organized as possible. In most cases, this means creating a horizontal navigation bar across the top of the page with straightforward categories.
Your navigation should have simple headings divided up by product type, services, locations, or another logical category type that makes sense for your business. You can use dropdown menus below those headings with more categories if necessary.
Make sure that your categories are logically organized in a way that makes it easy for users to determine which one has the information they need. Think like your audience, and consider how what you’d look for if you wanted information on a specific product or service.
You can also add helpful links to your footer. When people scroll to the bottom of a page, they should be able to consider browsing. This prevents them from having to scroll up and down to find information.
Your navigation plays a crucial part in keeping users on your site, and can help users find the information they want and stay engaged with your content.
3. Use responsive design
People are going to access your website from multiple types of devices, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones. You need to make sure that all of them can access and navigate your pages — and the best way to do this is with responsive design.
Responsive design ensures that your website adjusts to the browsers and screen sizes your visitors use. Whether someone accesses your website on a smartphone or desktop computer, the browsing experience will be the same.
So, why is this important?
When you think about how you navigate a site, there are often small buttons and links that are scaled to be used on a desktop computer. If you shrink that site down to fit a mobile phone, those links and buttons can become difficult to use. With responsive design, this isn’t an issue, since the site will adapt to be usable on any device.
It’s also important because today, users spend more time browsing on mobile devices than they do on desktop computers. This means that a site that only caters to desktop users provides a poor experience for a huge chunk of your potential customers.
With responsive design, you can be sure that you’re providing a great experience for all of your visitors. This can lead them to spend more time on your site, increasing the number of pages they visit, as well as the chances of them converting.
4. Use visual elements
Visual elements add a lot to your website. They’re the eye-catching details that keep users engaged, and pages with graphics and photos are much more interesting to browse than those with only text.
One of the easiest ways to add visual interest to your site is by incorporating relevant photos and graphics throughout your written content. These immediately draws users’ eyes and make them more likely to keep scrolling through your pages.
When you choose photos, it’s important that they’re relevant to the content and your brand. It’s best to avoid using stock photos if possible, as they can often come across as generic, but they can work for illustrating a point in a pinch.
The better option, though, is to use photos of your staff, your work, and your products. This will give your visitors an authentic feel for your business. You can also work with a designer to create custom graphics or infographics for another way to incorporate interesting visuals.
If you have the budget, videos are one of the most effective forms of visual content. Adding one to a page can improve conversions by 86%! This makes them a great addition for improving your website’s performance, engaging visitors, and increasing the amount of time potential customers spend with your content.
In fact, you are 53 times more likely to end up on the first page of Google results if you utilize video on your site. This is because people tend to remain on sites longer to watch videos than they do to read content.
5. Check your readability
One often-overlooked element in web design is readability. You might have a ton of great information on your site, but if visitors have trouble reading it, it won’t help you reach your marketing goals.
It is absolutely essential for people to be able to easily read the information on your website. The first step is simply to make sure that there is plenty of contrast between your text and background colors. This will make your text stand out and be easy to scan.
Another important part of readability is font. Your font selection has a major impact on how easy it is to read and skim your content, so it’s important to use a clean one that is easy to read.
While it can be tempting to choose “fun” fonts, they’re often difficult to read. Stick to simple fonts for your body copy, and limit the fancy ones to your titles or headings.
Even so, it’s best to stick to 2-3 different fonts. If you use too many different fonts, your website can look cluttered and unappealing. By sticking to a small selection, you can create a clean, cohesive feel.
You should also make sure that each font is big enough to read wherever you use it. If a font is too small, you’ll drive users away.
Your readability can dramatically impact how users experience your website. It’s an easy element to fix, too — so if your site is difficult to read, a few quick adjustments could make a huge difference.
6. Include social media buttons
Social media is likely part of your marketing strategy, and adding social buttons to your site is an easy way to earn followers. You can add them for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and any other platform you use.
Social buttons are easy to incorporate into your design. You can place them in your header, footer, navigation, or virtually anywhere else you think they make sense.
By including these buttons, you make it easy for visitors to check out your social profiles and connect with you on various platforms. If they like what they see on your page, they can follow your for updates — increasing the chances that they’ll later return to your site.
If you have a blog or regularly publish new content, you can also consider adding share buttons that make it easy for people to share your content on their social accounts. The easier it is for them to tweet or post an article, the more likely they’ll be to do so..
This is a simple element to add to your design, but it’s effective. You can help boost your social visibility and reach more potential customers.
7. Write strong calls to action
Your calls to action, or CTAs, are what direct visitors to the next step towards becoming customers.
No matter how helpful a visitor may have found one of your pages, when they reach the end, they will likely leave. The exception to this is if there is a clear directive that’s in line with their interests.
By including a relevant CTA on each page, you tell visitors what the next step is. You direct them to visit another page, sign up for an email list, or contact your business. This gives your business the power to guide your leads in the right direction.
CTAs are essential for turning visitors into customers. Simply adding one to each page can increase your conversion rate and make your site a more valuable tool for your business.
Even if a CTA isn’t designed to generate a sale immediately, directing a user to another page means they’ll spend more time on your site. The more engaged they are, the more likely it is that they’ll become a customer in the future.
You can get creative with your CTAs, especially from a design standpoint. You can make creative buttons that stand out and entice people to click on them. This is a small piece of the puzzle, but can have a huge impact on how effective your site is at turning traffic into sales.
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