Your website visitors will essentially be the judges of whether or not your website is successful or not. Therefore, any website developer should focus their attention on the target audience (and in fact, Internet users in general) during the development process.
Luckily there are certain fundamental elements that all successful websites have in common. The following are five primary principles that website developers and designers can implement to see to it that their web design will deliver the desired results.
It is great that technology has improved so tremendously. Though, with these advances, there also come certain expectations – one of which is a fast-loading time. Website visitors are no longer willing to wait longer than a couple of seconds for a web page to load. As a matter of fact, one of the primary reasons why a visitor will leave a website is if it takes too long to load. Apart from putting a brand in a very poor light, it can also negatively impact the search engine ranking of the website or, worse yet, prompt the visitor to browse the competition’s website instead.
The loading time of a web page is usually influenced by animations, images, infrastructure (such as Internet bandwidth, software, and hardware components), and custom fonts. Luckily there are online tools available that enable you to evaluate how your website is performing. The key is to make a point of testing your website and then to follow up on the suggestions that a tool had made regarding how best you can improve the loading time of your website. For example, with the help of file compression, you can boost your website’s performance.
Alternatively, if boosting your website’s actual performance is not feasible, the next best thing is to use skeleton screens to create the idea of speed. In short, a skeleton screen is a version of your web page that appears while the actual content is still busy loading. For example, by using a pulsation effect, you can create the impression that the content of the page is busy loading. This visual prompt might just appease your visitors to stay on your web page longer and wait for the content to load.
Ultimately to find high-quality content is the main reason why users will browse your website. Therefore, it deserves as much attention as the actual design of the website.
With regards to content, there are a couple of things that you need to consider. For starters, the info that you share on your website should correspond to what your visitors will anticipate to find. Therefore, if you are a professional photographer, visitors will expect to find more details about the packages that you offer.
A second important point is to include high-quality content that will instil trust. Luckily this is not so challenging as a couple of testimonials will help to convince the website visitors that the services and/or products on offer are indeed reliable.
Once you know which text should be included, your next focus should be to modify it so that the most important info is mentioned first and that the text, in general, will be effortless to scan. This is an important step as Internet users do not actually read the content word for word, instead, they will glance over the text to see if the content is what they are looking for.
To be more precise, according to research Internet users will read the first couple of lines, before they start to skim over the rest of the page. This is referred to as an “F” pattern.
Therefore, a good practice is not to use long paragraphs. Instead, opt for several subheadings, images, and bullet points. High-quality visual content like photos and videos can be very effective – the majority of users prefer to digest info visually, so this will help your target audience to understand the message that you want to communicate.
Though, try not to include generic stock images as these images hardly ever help to convey useful info or add much value. Also, too many moving objects like video clips will only work on your visitors’ nerves and distract them from your message.
And, whatever you do, do not let any video autoplay! The majority of Internet users do not browse the web while wearing earphones. If they land on your website only to be greeted immediately with a loud soundtrack, it could see them growing increasingly tense as they try to find the mute button. In fact, they will most likely abandon your website. If you really want to let a video start to play automatically, there is a simple solution – make sure the default setting is for the audio to be muted.
Another element that you should try to avoid is promotional popup notifications. Most of the time, a website visitor’s response to a popup is to close it right away or, even worse, leave the website.
While high-quality visuals can help to optimise your content for scanning, it is equally important to pay attention to web design trends. The challenge is that these trends change all the time; therefore, you will have to ensure that you stay up to speed with what is current. In short, the secret is just to see to it that your website design does not start to look behind the times.
One tip is to try and minimise the use of generic stock images. Although these can be a cost-effective resource, the issue is that these types of photos hardly ever communicate any helpful or applicable info about your specific business. As a matter of fact, according to eye-tracking studies and usability tests, generic stock photography has a negative effect on the user experience – website visitors typically fail to notice these photos in the first place. After all, you want to distinguish your business website from your competitors, and stock photography will not help you to achieve that.
Instead, you want to ensure that your website design is memorable. The clever use of colour, for instance, will help you to make sure that your target audience remembers your website clearly. What is more, it can also help you to ensure that your business or brand becomes more recognisable.
Another avenue to explore is the use of illustrations and brand mascots. By including an illustration (as opposed to a generic stock image) on your website, you can add a sense of artistry to your web design.
Ultimately you want the visual appearance of your web design to be consistent with your brand. If you include a specific element (such as a mascot) that users do not typically associate with your brand, they will simply forget it, which will not help you to create a memorable web design.
Therefore, ensure that elements such as the colour combos, typography, and catchphrases are used consistently. If you are finding this to be challenging, it could help to create a style guide. It might sound like a lot of work, but you only have to compile it once and it can be used for all your future creative web design projects, whether it is to create a Facebook page or custom logo.
Long gone are the days that you only had to design for PCs. Today, it’s vital that you need to design for mobile devices as well as desktops. Already tablets and smartphones are generating a significant percentage of traffic, and it is only going to increase.
As a matter of fact, if you truly want to optimise your design for mobile devices, you will have to focus on more than responsiveness. As mobile devices pose certain restrictions, you should aim to include only what your visitors really need when they are browsing the website via a mobile device. This means that you will have to treat certain features and info as more important, which will help you to concentrate on the most important goals of your website – even cheap web design solutions should offer mobile responsive website designs.
One of the most important features of a website is that it should be straightforward to use. If website visitors do not know how to navigate their way around your website, any attempt at including nice-looking design trends will all be in vain.
It’s good practice to start by asking yourself which web pages your target audience will probably expect to find. Then, shift your focus to how they will navigate from one web page to the next one. If you can, try to adhere to the three-click rule. In other words, your website should be designed in such a manner that the visitors will be able to locate the info they are searching for in no more than three clicks.
A common mistake is to include too many elements to your user interface (UI), which only make the screen too complicated for website visitors. So, include only those elements that are really needed for communication purposes and be sure to use sufficient white space. By doing this, it will be much easier for website visitors to read the info and grasp your main message. If a certain element like a call-to-action prompt is more important, you can use a different colour or size to ensure that it is the most prominent visual element of your webpage design.
When it comes to navigation, at the end of the day, it all basically boils down to predictability. Do not be scared to take advantage of design patterns. The truth is that your target audience spends the majority of their time on other websites, and as a result, they have a set of expectations regarding how websites typically work. Thus, when you opt to include a familiar custom, like placing an element where it is usually found, it will be much easier for visitors to complete tasks.
A few final thought
Delivering a fantastic user experience when users visit your website for the very first time should be one of your most important focus areas – especially when it comes to a small business web design. As a general rule, you boost the likelihood that website visitors will stay on your website for a longer period by improving their first impressions of your website. However, the reverse is also true – if the first interaction someone has with your website is less than desirable, not only could it mean that they will steer clear of your website, but also your products and services too.
That is why good website design is of the utmost importance. By really paying attention to these five fundamental factors, you can see to it that your website design will create positive first impressions and experiences. At the end of the day, your site design all boils down to usability, content, and the visuals.
Need some advice on your website design? Get in touch with our Sydney web designers for a consultation.