According to Microsoft Corp, humans today have an attention span of a mere 8 seconds. This means that your opportunity to interest and engage your audience will be over before you can get them to read to the end of your page. Good website design is critical to show prospects your value as soon as they land on the site.
Stanford University also found that nearly half of consumers, 46.1%, list a website’s design as their top criteria when deciding if they regard a company as credible. Not only must your website interest and engage readers, but it will also have a lasting impact on your overall brand reputation.
Similarly, Adobe found that people prefer to consume content that looks beautiful. Not even taking into account what the content actually says and the value it provides, people prefer to read content that looks visually appealing. People also form a first impression within 50 milliseconds, Google reports. This means your content needs to look appealing immediately.
Not only does your website need to look appealing, it must also be functional. Customers today live in a very fast online world. With features like AMP pages becoming increasingly common, customers have become accustomed to websites that load quickly and provide them with their information almost instantaneously. This means that your site must also ‘work’ well.
A poor site design can easily slow your load time. A slow load time will be detrimental to your ability to engage with users. Aberdeen Group found that just a 1 second delay in load time can result in a 7% decrease in conversions.
Customers will provide you with a few valuable seconds of their time. They give you the chance to convince them that your website is one worth exploring. Here is what you need to do to seize this opportunity.
Responsive Design: The cornerstone of good website design
Mobile optimization has been the expected standard for several years now. Every site should already be optimized for users on mobile devices– who SimilarWeb reports now comprise more than half of all traffic to your site.
Not only do you want to make your site mobile-friendly so that you can engage users on mobile devices, but Google itself looks at how well your site displays on mobile devices. They have also been discussing a mobile-first algorithm, which SEO experts believe will be out this year.
This algorithm would rank sites first for their value for mobile users, instead of defaulting to rank sites based on their usefulness for desktop users. Sites not ready for mobile could potentially drop in the rankings.
Responsive design will likely be the easiest and most effective means of ensuring that your site is prepared for mobile users. Responsive design allows your page to automatically adapt to any size screen, making it easily usable for all customers.
If you have already covered the basics of designing a site to fit all users across devices, however, here are our 6 tips for taking your site design to the next level.
Tips for Good Website Design
Good website design tip 1: Make your call-to-action obvious and relevant
When customers arrive on your site, they should know immediately what to do. They should not wonder about the purpose of a particular page or how it adds value for them. You accomplish this by paying attention to two key details:
Detail 1. Make sure the customer knows exactly what you want them to do next. Although it can sound like a good idea to offer customers several choices in the hopes that they will pick at least one, more than one choice actually reduces engagement.
Customers want a clear path. Hick’s Law tells us that the amount of time it takes for someone to make a decision is proportionate to the number of choices they have. Do not overwhelm your customers.
Detail 2. Write a call-to-action that clearly relates to the pain points you are trying to address. You should have a strong understanding of your buyer’s journey and know exactly what customers want to see when they arrive on your website.
Since you know what the customer needs, you then need to tailor your call-to-action to this pain point. Let people know why they should click or otherwise engage with your call-to-action.
Examples of good website design
Dropbox provides us with a great example of a website with a clear call-to-action. Their desired activity on their homepage is for you to sign up for an account.
When you go to the Dropbox website, you will see that you do not have a number of different choices of things to do. Your eye is drawn towards the registration form. This form asks you only for necessary information and makes it easy to create your own free account.
The call-to-action is also highly relevant. Most people searching for Dropbox will be interested in learning more about using a cloud-based system for storing documents and coordinating with others. The prominent call-to-action you see directly answers that need.
You can see a similarly relevant call-to-action with PayPal. People visit the PayPal site because they want to register or they have heard about the service and want to learn more. The site makes their call-to-action immediately relevant to this desire. Letting people know that they can shop on ‘millions of sites’ through their service, PayPal entices people to learn more.
Good website design tip 2: Pick the optimal images
Images increase engagement with content. According to WebDam.com, posts with images receive an incredible 650 times the engagement of those comprised of only text. To improve your website design, you want to incorporate images as often as possible.
Keep in mind when selecting images that you don’t want to slow down your load time. You shouldn’t select images that are too complex or load slowly, even on mobile.
The images you choose should also fit well with the content with which you pair it. It should be selected to boost the engagement and understanding of your material.
You want to carefully consider the types of images you select. It can be tempting to turn to the many platforms where you can get free, or relatively cheap, stock images. Stock images, however, are impersonal. They do not tell customers anything about your brand or your value. Your viewers might even see the same images on other websites.
If customers regularly run into your images on other websites, you risk damaging your reputation. Any negative experiences customers have with other websites that they strongly associate with your image they could potentially transfer to your website.
MDG Advertising reports that 67% of customers believe that high-quality images were very important when they made purchasing decisions. Take the time to take and use real images of your products, members of your company, or even real customers– with permission.
Examples of good website design
As more brands have begun to realize the value of foregoing the standard stock image, we begin to see higher-quality images taking over online. Consider the website of Rolex. Their premium watches are considered a symbol of luxury and wealth, and their website communicates these goals.
The site contains minimal text, but is instead dominated by their high-end photography. The pictures make the desired impact. The website encourages people to click on on the images that interest them the most to learn more, and the brand has already produced engagement with the site.
The brand Jamba Juice knows how to take advantage of this as well. With perfectly placed images of their real products, the images entice potential customers and encourage them to give the brand a try.
Good website design tip 3: Organize the site logically
When designing your site, remember also the importance of navigation. Customers should be able easily to move around your site and find anything they need without confusion. This navigation impacts your site on multiple levels.
Google, and the spiders it sends out to ‘read’ your site, takes your navigation into account. A confusing navigation could be counted against you. It could make it a challenge for Google to properly understand the value and depth of your site. It might also miss pages when indexing your website.
Navigation also impacts the user experience. If customers cannot easily move around your site, they will generally just click off rather than struggle to find what they seek. With over a billion websites now online, customers know that they can find another site that will answer their needs.
To make a clean navigation, start by organizing your content into categories. You want to come up with a few main groups that you can arrange into a hierarchy. You will have broad content that introduces people to a particular type of content. You will then have content that gradually goes deeper, addressing the topic from new directions and in a more in-depth way.
You will use internal links to show Google and your users how the content relates within the site. Link to helpful pages within the content category to help people move throughout the category. At the top levels, link to other categories. This will create a cleaner site hierarchy that people will be able to move through.
You can then incorporate this hierarchy into your navigational buttons. Your menus should clearly explain your content categories, without overwhelming the users. You should also have a site map that you can then upload to Google to help the search engine understand the structure of your site.
Remember, again, mobile users when developing your navigation. Any navigational buttons or menus should be easy for people to use on touch screens. Do not put buttons too close together or make them small and hard to tap accurately.
Examples of good website design
HubSpot provides an excellent example of clean organization. The site offers four drop down menus, in addition to a pricing page, at the top of their screen. Each menu contains links to relevant parts of their site. This makes it easy for people to navigate and find the content they want to see.
Good website design tip 4: Use white space well
White space does not mean wasted space. Your website should be designed to have a particular flow to it. You want to guide the eyes of your viewers in a particular direction to help them digest the information they see.
Jakob Nielsen examined how people digest content on the page. He found that people largely scan the material they see. If you do not have enough white space on your site, then your page will quickly become overcrowded. This makes it hard for people to scan and effectively understand what you want to communicate.
Pages that contain too much content also tend to look very busy. They do not look aesthetically pleasing. It can also be confusing for users who do not know what you want them to do on the page or where you want them to go.
Use white space to make your content easier to digest. Organize your content so that everything on the page is related directly to the goal of that particular page. Anything that is not necessary should be removed or relocated to another page where it makes more sense.
A great way to see what people find interesting on your site is to use a heat map. This will let you know where people look on your page and what they do not engage with. You can use this information to see if important pieces of your site tend to get overlooked and how your layout and white space impact users. The data you collect can help you optimize your design further.
Examples of good website design
Google may be the optimal example of a brand page that uses white space well. When you land on Google.com, your eye immediately goes to the search bar. This clearly is the action Google wants you to take.
The search engine has built its brand around providing you with high-quality search results. They make the purpose of the homepage clear with their design. Although other options do exist on the page– you can also click over to Gmail, log into your Google account, or search for images– your likely action will be to use the standard search bar.
You can also see these design elements on other websites. Consider the design by MailChimp.
This website does have more possible actions for you to take by the nature of its business, but it also still uses white space well. You do not feel overwhelmed looking at the page.
Their value statement is clearly written in the middle of the page. They also make their desired action clear for you: they would like you to try their free sign up and start an account.
Good website design tip 5: Look for any site errors
Running a regular site audit should also be an important part of web design. As a part of this site audit, you will want to look for any errors on your site. This might included 404’s or broken links.
These errors can happen quickly. If you move certain content on your site and neglect to properly put in a redirect, then you can have an error page for any customer that tries to reach the old page. For example, a past customer might have saved the link themselves. You might have also had outside sources link to that particular page.
There are two types of redirects available, a 301 and a 302. A 301 redirect means that a page has been permanently moved to a new location. A 302 redirect means that the move has been temporary.
You might use a 302 if you simply want to work on some pages internally before allowing traffic to visit them again. In any situation where your page has been moved permanently, you want to use the 301. Do not just delete a page of your site. If you have to take something down, you want to redirect the page to related content so that you do not disrupt the customer experience.
With a 301 redirect, anyone who tries to reach the old page will be automatically taken to the new one. This will also help you transfer any of the power you had from external links pointing at the original page, boosting the credibility of the new page.
In addition to checking for potential error codes, you also want to look for any broken links internally in your site. Verify that your internal links go to appropriate pages on your site. Ideally, you should also check any links that lead to outside pages and remove them if those pages are not active anymore.
Broken links and error pages all disrupt the user experience. Remember that brands today cannot neglect the intense competition they face online. Websites must be prepared to deliver relevant, helpful information to clients when they want it.
Sites that have error codes and poor links easily frustrate users. They damage the reputation of the brand and people may even begin to lose trust. Maintaining a professionally run site requires paying attention to these details, or you could hire a web design team to make sure maintenance is done regularly for you.
Good website design tip 6: Help people trust you
Trust is a powerful motivator for building relationships. Customers want to know that they can trust you and the products and services you provide. Use your website as an opportunity to nurture this trust.
Begin with social trust. According to Nielsen, word-of-mouth recommendations offer the most powerful forms of advertising. Customers are more likely to trust what they hear from other past customers than they are likely to believe content you publish yourself.
To build social trust on your website, include real customer experiences. Offer images of customers, with their permission. Include testimonials or reviews. Look for opportunities to incorporate positive customer experiences. If you have a popular social media page, you can include social sharing buttons that say how many followers you have.
You can also build trust through association. If you have awards or high ratings through safety and security sites, let customers know. This is particularly important if you want customers to make purchases through your site. Include seals or logos of people willing to endorse you.
If you have been promoted by third parties, such as a local magazine listing top dining places, include that on your site. Let people know that your brand has been seen as so good that others have publicly supported you.
Examples of good website design
Moz does an excellent job with this site design factor. On their homepage, scrolling down just below the fold will bring you to a number of endorsements that will encourage people to consider their software. They list the number of customers that trust them, the size of their community, and even some information on the amount of data they process.
They establish themselves as the cornerstone of the market. They make it easy for customers to see them as the leader and want to work with them.
Tim Ash, a speaker and writer for professional digital marketers, does the same on his website. He advertises his personal statistics, including the number of copies his book has sold, the conferences where he speaks, and some of the companies who have trusted his expertise.
By listing this information, the viewer immediately becomes aware of the level of influence Tim Ash has on the digital marketing community. They find themselves viewing him as an expert, and thus become more willing to buy his book or ask him to speak at a conference.
Designing a website can be a challenge. You want to make sure that the site is easy for people to find and navigate. Your site should clearly communicate the value you offer to your prospects. Following these tips for good website design will get you started on the right path towards creating a site that will rank well and serve your customers. Contact us to learn how we can help you implement these factors of good website design on your business page.