9 Unmissable Design Tips for an Outstanding Website

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Websites. There’s a lot of them out there. Over 2 billion, in fact. And a whopping 547,200 more are created every day! So if you’ve got a website for your business, you need not only to stand out, but to keep visitors around. You’ve got to make your site appealing, welcoming, and functional. If you are not a web developer, then you may need to hire a web development company like Blue Whale Media, a web design company based in Cheshire, to develop your website for you.

The unfortunate truth of the matter, though, is that most people won’t notice a good website. They’ll just browse it and use it, hopefully to buy something. They will, however, notice a bad website. If your site is visually unappealing, hard to navigate, and poorly designed, not only will people leave and go to your competitors, they won’t buy, or sign-up, or register.

So we’ve compiled some of the best and most effective design tips you should definitely implement on your site. Not only are these tried and tested, but they’re backed by science, too. Once you know these tips, you’ll start to notice them all over the place. And I’ll bet you’ll notice them on the sites you regularly browse or buy from!

Speed

While this is not necessarily a design tip per se, it is something to always bear in mind while you are designing your site. In today’s world of fibreoptic broadband and instant gratification loops, people don’t want to wait for anything. If your site won’t load fast enough, regardless of how good it looks when it does, people won’t hang around to see it. Always check your loading times, and keep them as fast as possible!

‘The Fold’

Things being above or below ‘the fold’ is an old advertising term from back in the days of newspapers (remember them?), but it still applies now to online marketing. The most important information, what you really want your visitors to see, (headlines, calls to action) should be above the fold. That means the top section of the page. And yes, this will vary depending on the size of the screen the person is viewing your site on, but it still matters. People spend 57% of their time on a website above the fold, and the numbers drop off alarmingly fast after that. It’s easier to just look than it is to scroll and look, after all.

Scrolling vs Clicking

This goes hand in hand with other tips on this list, but it’s worth mentioning now because of how it relates to the fold. Yes, while more people only pay attention to what’s above the fold, what’s below the fold still matters. Studies have shown that people prefer to scroll rather than click. This could be if you click something, you generally have to wait for another page to load (remember – loading times!), or it could be that we’re so accustomed to scrolling endlessly on social media that it just feels more natural to people to scroll than to click around to find what you’re looking for. So, with this in mind, don’t hide information on other pages or in drop-down menus. Stick it all on one long page. People are much happier to scroll, taking in one piece of information at a time, than they are endlessly clicking and waiting and clicking and waiting and clicking and waiting… etc. A case study by one company found that when they increased the length of their sales page to over twenty times what it was before, their conversions went up 30%!

The Visual Hierarchy

A visual hierarchy is a law that dictates how and where certain aspects of your page should be displayed. For its fancy name, it’s quite simple really. The more important a piece of information is to your customers, the more prominence it should have on the page. It should be larger, nearer the top, and stand out with sharp contrast and colour. Text is the least engaging format, while as video is the most. Of course, this will take some time to perfect, and make sure you don’t risk one call to action button right at the top at the expense of important information that people need to know in order to want to click that CTA in the first place! Prioritise!

Less is More

Declutter that homepage! While it can be tempting to cram as much as you can on one page (especially after reading about the long page thing), it is so important to bear in mind the power of minimalism. White spaces and less choices make people feel calmer and more comfortable. Hick’s law dictates that the more choices people have, the less likely they are to buy something. If you make someone feel indecisive and pressured, they will simply withdraw, and not make any decision at all. Isn’t that easier, after all? One detail at a time, one photo, one chunk of text, one video. Surround everything with empty white space, or a subtle and unintrusive background. People love what they know! It may seem unoriginal to use the same layout as every other site, but there’s a reason everyone else is doing it. Because it makes people more likely to stick around!

Aesthetics

When it comes to visuals, colour is probably one of the most important. Not only in terms of layout and readability, but in terms of cementing your brand image, and giving people something they recognise and can relate to. Use colours that are relevant to your business, your logo and your products. Always remember to contrast colours correctly; harmony is what you should be pursuing, something that stands out but doesn’t shock or offend. Keep it consistent and bold.

A quick side note when it comes to colours on your site is to be wary of the false bottom. A false bottom is when a darker colour is used erroneously halfway down the page (or anywhere that’s not the bottom). Dark colours tend to imply to the reader/viewer that they’ve reached the end and they can stop scrolling. If they haven’t, but a dark section makes them think they have, and your call to action is a couple more scrolls down, you’ve lost them. Be careful!

Photography

Images are important, people look at them first before they read anything. Eye tracking studies have proved this time and time again. So when it comes to photographs, don’t skimp! Use high quality, crisp and clear images that will impress visitors to your website. People also prefer photographs of other people. It’s a human trait; we relate to what we know, and we tend to trust a company more if we see other human beings associated with it. Don’t use stock photos! Customers will see straight through this, and it puts people off. Use yourself, your employees, and your customers. 

Visual Cues

Visual cues are handy design tricks used to draw the viewer’s attention to a particular place. And they work, they really work! The two most common and most effective visual cues are human faces (see above!) and arrows. It seems kind of obvious, but people are more likely to look to where someone else is looking, or to where a pointy symbol is telling them to. It’s another psychology-based design trick that can make sure that CTA button or sign-up form doesn’t get scrolled past. 

Think Mobile

Finally, probably the most important tip on this list. More people browse the internet on their phones. Over 50%, in fact! It’s just the way it is. So you’d better make sure that your site works on mobiles too. It doesn’t matter how great it looks and functions on a desktop if it’s unusable on a mobile device. Plus, Google ranks sites based on their mobile responsiveness, so you could lose out on more business than you’d care to imagine. 

There’s a lot involved when it comes to making your site work on both desktops and mobiles. Functions like swiping, managing the shift in image resolutions, and how drop-down menus and sidebars work all need to be considered.

There you go! These are some key points to make sure your site is a hit. Sure, there’s more to be aware of, and endless tweaks you could make to get your site just right, but these are essential to understand before you take the first steps. But, now you know! Good luck!

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