Making sure that your website can stand out amongst the crowd begins, not with a huge impactful idea, but by having the basics down pat.
Here are 5 killer web design fundamentals that create a great user experience, a well-executed plan, and a solid website to last you years.
1. Web Design with a Purpose
Having a clear purpose keeps people engaged. This first fundamental is about setting up your why. Having a why is not only a great intrinsic motivator, but if you communicate it early, you bring your user in with a clear picture of why they’re there, therefore keeping them on your page for longer.
Web design without purpose can feel like you’ve just walked into a room and forgotten the reason why you walked in. Purposeful web design helps you get there and get what you need, considerably reducing noises and distraction.
The things to establish are your goals with your web design. Are you trying to describe your expertise? Are you trying to build your reputation? Are you advertising a documentary? Or trying to sell unique fashion? Whatever it may be, it’s important that you know, so that everyone knows.
After you have identified this purpose, setting up a quality user experience can be easily focussed on, making for clear, concise and helpful information that keeps the context clear and the traffic consistent.
2. Simplicity is Key
There is an old acronym that I learnt in primary school. K.I.S.S; this acronym stands for ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’. At every instance there could be hundreds of ideas floating through a business owners’ mind and trying to reinvent how to have the best website experience could be one of them. It’s important to taper expectations, read an article about fundamentals (wink wink) and start from there. Keeping it simple is about staying out of people’s way. The website should be inviting and easy-to-use. There are a few ways to achieve this, you can have a single navigation bar, or having clearly labelled headers for dropdowns.
Simplicity is also a design language. Too many choices leave users with choice anxiety and a cluttered menu or homepage can be an overwhelming sight. Keeping your copy short and concise, and keeping images clear and unobstructed is a helpful way to avoid a bad user experience.
Remember, people are on your site to view the expertise or products your client’s have, help them find it quickly and clearly. Without that simple move, your user will quickly bounce.
3. Content is King
How many times have you heard this? “Content is king”. I dare say it is one of the most important things to bear in mind when creating content for a website. Think powerful images. Engaging copy. Punchy and informative videos. Links to content on socials. All these aspects are key to great website design.
The first image for a restaurant should be smiling faces, great food, and inviting décor, not empty seats, small spaces, and vacant faces. Having a positive experience is key to getting people to come back to your site and entice them to engage with the business. If your content is lacking, then people will forget it as there is a lot of content out there waiting to be consumed. A helpful hint is trying to get people involved. User-generated content can be some of the most rewarding content, it’s free, it’s loved, and it builds community around your business, and by extension, your digital business.
Creating content calendars and viewing what some of your most successful competitors are doing can provide a great insight to good content for a specific business, but what research tells us is that having your own images helps your business perform better than using stock images. So get thinking, and get snapping.
4. Mobile Friendly is a Must
Tell a friend about a business and more than likely they will whip out their phone and type the business’ name into Google. It is so important that your website not only functions well on a desktop, but functions well on a device that doubles the population of the planet, that’s right! Phones; mobiles; the thing my Mum uses for Facebook.
Having your website be not only well designed for desktop but well designed for mobile will help you get more traffic, but will help reduce the bounce rate. A great mobile experience is going to be familiar and simple, meaning, make it an easy to scroll experience. Make sure that all links on your site are finger compatible, and that the most important information is at the top of screen. Lastly, make sure that the page is responsive, and quick. Lag on phones isn’t tolerated as much these days, and unresponsive web design can be a big hinderance to return users, or people who are on your site for longer.
Useability is about having the design be as user friendly as possible. Making sure that there are as few issues as possible can result in a great user experience that invites return. Be sure to check through your website for things like broken links. There is nothing more frustrating than reading something on a website and wanted to know more, but the hyperlink leads to nowhere. Using an SEO tool to crawl your site every now and again will keep the page up to date and looking as professional as ever.
Mobile responsiveness is a big issue, making sure that the web design is compatible with mobile devices, or tablets is something to always remain on top of. Having a messy menu on one device and a clean one on another alienates an entire segment of users, so making sure that the web design is useable across different devices will help you retain users on all devices.
A big aspect of useability is making sure that the information is clear and consistent. If you scroll down to find a different font and images clashing with colours, then the design will confuse and most likely frustrate users.
Good information architecture is about making sure that the most important information doesn’t get lost. If you can’t grasp what expertise a person has by their website straight away, or you have no clue what a particular device is for, then people will be left in the dark. Keeping copy and images collated together clearly, is a great way to keep people engaged in your site and your product/service.
And there you have it, 5 fundamentals that will elevate your web design from good to great.