But – what specifically makes that website stand out? Is it appearance, functionality, organization…?
Let’s try and identify some elements of design that can set your website apart from the poorly designed – or just plain mediocre – sites that seem all too often come across our browsers.
Above all else, an effective website needs to fulfill its intended purpose. What is the function of your website? What needs of your visitor are you aiming to accommodate? Websites can:
KEEP IT SIMPLE
A well designed website must offer great user experience and, quite often, that is achieved through simplicity. Be obvious and make the site self-explanatory.
Keep it simple with a few specific colors. The most logical place to start is with the colors found in your logo or perhaps an image that will be prominently featured on the site. Using a palette generator – like Adobe’s free version – can be a great tool in finding complementary colors.
Typography is another important component. Limit yourself to no more than three different fonts on your site. Try and use either the font from your logo, or something complementary. Since combinations are practically limitless, I also use the FontPair website to find fonts that display together nicely.
Initial impressions are typically visual in nature. Be sure your visual components – photographs, graphics, illustrations, videos – are of high quality and capture your brand personality.
Don’t be afraid of white space. White space helps visitors divide your content into digestible pieces of information.
Be clear with your structure. Keep your main menu – the system by which your visitors will find the appropriate information on your website – simple, intuitive and consistent on every page.
Visitors don’t read, they scan. I can’t stress this point enough. So, I’ll say it again: Do NOT expect visitors to read your entire website. They’re going to scan it for whatever piece of information they’re in search of.
So if they’re not going to read, help them: design your site so users focus on an anchor point that naturally guides them to the most important snippets on a given page.
Of course, it’s not all about design, a great website also has to knock it out of the park content wise too. Convert visitors into clients and customers by using compelling content. Just be sure to economize. Do the most with the least because you have nanoseconds, literally, to engage a visitor.
Keep in mind:
It’s 2020. It is no longer just an option to have a mobile friendly website. Your website MUST be responsive – which means it displays properly on ANY device: desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone. AND it must offer compatibility, meaning the site will maintain its functionality and appearance regardless of operating system or browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE, etc.).
In the end, effective web design can be the difference between a new conversion or a lost opportunity. Now, let’s get to work!