Ok, I’ll hold my hands up. I made a ton of mistakes when I first started building websites (truth be told, I still do). Web design is like a living, breathing thing (couldn’t find a better word) that is constantly changing and adapting to viewers/readers.
What worked really well back in 1997 doesn’t work today and, if you’re not updating your overall web design, I fear you’re being left behind.
Every 6 months we take a look at the designs for both our clients and our own websites and see where we can make improvements.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we’re not talking huge, stonking “change the theme”-type changes. Sometimes they can be little, subtle changes like adding extra call to action (CTA) buttons or adding pictures within blog posts to increase engagement.
No matter what, regular changes need to be made to stay up to date and design for a better user experience. If your clients don’t love your website, they won’t come back, share your content or proceed through any of your marketing funnels.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Have a professional logo
- 2 Eliminate clutter
- 3 Use strategic marketing colors
- 4 Invest in good, professional photography
- 5 Choose fonts that are easy to read across devices and browsers
- 6 Design every web page as a landing page
- 7 Respect the fold
- 8 Use responsive design
- 9 Forget Flash
- 10 Test your design
- 11 Conclusion
Have a professional logo
You’re probably thinking “logo, really?” But, hold on a second, there’s method to my madness – not having a professional-looking logo can harm your brand and make you look unprofessional.
Where possible, use a high resolution image (like PNG) and place it in the upper left corner of your pages. If you are using a wordpress theme, this is generally a default on most themes. If possible, ensure this image links back to your homepage.
People are now used to clicking on the logo image to “get back home” as some websites don’t actually have a “home button.”
Not only is good navigation great for users, it’s also a basic element of search engine optimisation (SEO). Your primary navigation are normally situated at the top of your website (unless you’re an artist or funky blogger). It’s not wise to alter that position as this is where your visitors will expect to see the main menu.
Where possible, situate secondary navigation below the primary one. For example, on a plumbing website you might see “Services” as the primary menu and then – Plumbing, emergency call-out as a secondary menu (normally found directly beneath the primary menu).
A lot of websites have the primary menu on either the top or left hand side of the page and then have the secondary menu positioned in the footer (bottom of the page).
Keeping things simple and intuitive will keep your visitors on the page longer and clicking through to your other content.
It’s really easy to get drawn into adding absolutely everything on a page. Lots of images, graphs, videos etc. Believe it or not, less is more.
Try going to any one of the news websites and you’ll see what I mean. Not only does a video “autoplay” as soon as you land on the page, you have a ticker tape message running along the top and several annoying popups coming at you from every direction.
In short, try not to do this. Only provide information and tools that the reader will enjoy reading or watching. Too many things going on and too many options means your viewer will be confused and just click away.
Keep paragraphs short and punchy. Don’t forget, the vast majority of your readers will be looking at your content on a mobile device. Huge blocks of text will, most likely be a turnoff.
Use strategic marketing colors
Be strategic with the colours you use. Unless you’re a salon you can get away with having a dark background. If you’re not, keep background colours neutral, clean and modern.
By using certain colours, you can get inside your reader’s mind and guide them down the path you want them to take. We call these marketing colours.
For example: using RED text creates a certain urgency and you want that text to standout. Using BLUE targets the male demographic. It signifies trust and reliability.
If you want to go a bit more advanced, you can try split-testing your changes, i.e. the colour of your CTA buttons and colour of your titles. This will ensure that the colour with the best engagement is the one to choose going forward.
Invest in good, professional photography
Even though I have listed this as a component of good web design, this won’t apply to everyone. There are certain industries that don’t need professional photography, such as small local businesses. In most cases, a picture taken with a smartphone is absolutely fine.
It’s only if you want to show your brand in the best light or showcase certain products – professional photography will help sell that story.
Choose fonts that are easy to read across devices and browsers
Probably one of the most overlooked areas of web design – font styles and font sizes are really important in your design decisions (especially with the majority of your readers viewing your content on a mobile device.)
Try and pick a typeface that’s easy to read and size it no less than 12pt. Also, don’t vary the fonts too much… I’d say two fonts at the maximum.
Top Google Web Fonts:
- Open Sans.
- Josefin Slab.
- Abril Fatface.
- PT Sans + PT Serif.
Design every web page as a landing page
Most people assume that your viewers/readers will enter their website via the homepage where, in reality, they’ll probably enter through a sub-page. This means, every page should be set up to convert.
This one is easier said than done – however, if you can get into the habit of doing this, your site conversions will be a lot higher.
Make sure the content is relevant to the main title, your call to action buttons are prominent and there’s either a signup form or contact info on the top half of the page just in case your visitor doesn’t scroll.
Respect the fold
As I’ve just mentioned, above the fold content (top-half of webpage) needs to pack the most important info like a sign-up form and contact details. Try to avoid going for full-width sliders and go for ones that are maximum two-thirds width.
Use responsive design
Instead of developing a site for each device out there, try your best to have a responsive designed website. This means that your site will adapt and resize according to the browser size used by your reader/viewer.
This isn’t just a great design tip, it’s what Google recommends. Ever since they stopped updating Google search for desktop and focused most of their indexing on mobile search, it is imperative that all websites are both mobile optimised and mobile responsive. If it isn’t, then it won’t be indexed or seen as relevant to Google. That’s a problem…!
If you didn’t know already, Apple and Adobe have been fighting for years with Apple arguing that flash (by Adobe) was far too slow and non-user-friendly. Apple’s Safari browser won’t even show flash on websites that have it and there are many more browsers following suit.
A good idea is to use HTML5 instead – it has search engine-friendly text and performs really well on most mobile operating systems with no plugin necessary.
Flash is on the way out and HTML5 is the new black.
Test your design
Whatever design you choose to go for, make sure you test the major elements of it. That’s anything from colours to website optimisation, etc.
We don’t test everything here at Xenmedia. However, we test any major changes we make via Google Analytics. This ensures you’re implementing what works and eliminating things that don’t work as well.
Studying our client’s websites, we found changing different call to action buttons and their positions had the greatest impact on conversions.
So, if you want to cheat at web design and get away with it, implement a few of these tactics to stay ahead of your competition. To be honest, you might not see results straight away – however, I advise you to stay the course and stick with it.
Every design-change you make for the better increases leads, sales and overall conversions.
— XenmediaMarketing (@XenmediaM) February 1, 2017