Web design tips

Establish a theme for consistency

Keeping your website design consistent is crucial to help show your brand as professional and trustworthy. It’s also one of the core web design principles you need to adopt to help boost brand awareness, customer recognition, and, in turn, your conversion rate. That said, ensure you have a standard format for each piece of content on your websites, such as your color schemes, headings, typography, branding, and other elements. Consistent formatting helps make your website design and content more visually appealing and visitors recognize your brand. Consider using the same font across your web pages when possible, stick to your standard color palette, and use the same core messaging, voice, and style in your copy. Adopting a standard format doesn’t mean you should limit your design. Instead, find a balance between consistency and creativity when building your website. This can help you create a website that is both functional and visually appealing while remaining consistent with your branding and business goals.

Create a web design strategy

Building and designing an effective website starts with strategic planning, so before you dive into the actual design process, come up with a web design strategy. Doing so helps ensure you don’t forget any essential website elements and components. As such, you avoid wasting time and resources going back and forth to correct and add anything you might have missed. Even if you won’t design your website yourself and work with professional web designers instead, it helps to have a design strategy in place to guide the site creation process. Consider the following questions when creating your design strategy:

  • What key message do you want to communicate to your audience?
  • What essential features do you plan to showcase?
  • Who are your ideal buyers?
  • What features and functionalities will your potential customers expect your website to have? Use the answers to these questions to help you outline your web design strategy. Work with your team to bring out solid ideas and lay out the initial plans for your website. You can streamline your collaboration and planning processes using effective team project management tools such as Teamwork. The platform offers the tools you need to create, track, and manage projects and tasks. You can add comments, upload files, and get everything in one location. View your projects as a Gantt chart, a task list, or board. You can customize your workflows and use advanced portfolios and workload management tools such as time tracking, reporting, and dashboards. Speed up creating your website by using a team project management tool and creating your design strategy to guide your website building process.

Make it mobile-friendly

It’s better to design your website to be mobile-friendly and adaptable to multiple screen display sizes from the get-go. After all, people prefer using their mobile devices to browse the web and shop online. If you don’t design your website to be mobile-friendly, shoppers are bound to have poor user experiences with your site, which can seriously hurt your conversions and sales. Also, mobile-friendliness is one of Google’s ranking factors. This means the more your website meets Google’s requirements, the better your web page’s chances of ranking higher in search results. Follow these quick tips when designing a mobile-friendly website:

  • Avoid using dual websites. Instead of creating separate websites for desktop and mobile, use one URL for both to improve your search traffic.
  • Ensure proper font and button sizes. Ensure your texts and buttons are easy for mobile users to see, read, and click on smaller display screens. Keep your font sizes to a minimum of 14PX (11 points for iOs) and your buttons at 44PX by 44 PX. Use one typeface and utilize white space for better readability.
  • Don’t use Flash. Flash doesn’t work on most mobile devices and drains resources so you’re better off staying away from it. However, remember to make your image, CSS, and JavaScript files available to Google via the Google Search Console. Additionally, ensure you use high-resolution images and photos for your website. If shoppers have to squint or keep zooming in to see smaller details in your product photos, they’re bound to have a poor user experience — which won’t help convert them into buyers.

Leverage Social Proof

The last one of our web design tips is about the so-called conformity bias. This is the tendency of people to do as others do. That means, if a group of people approve of something, others are more likely to do that same. One way of leveraging this on your website is to show social proof. If you can show that others have a positive opinion of your site, content, product or service, new visitors are more likely to do the same. You can most easily show this with counts of social shares, media mentions and/or testimonials. If you want to dive deeper into this topic, we have a whole article for you.

Use the Right List Order

Using lists, both ordered and unordered, is a great way to make information more accessible. However, it turns out that here, too, human attention is fickle. This is because of the so-called serial-position effect. It basically says that in a list, you are most likely to remember both the items in the beginning and at the end. The middle section, on the other hand, goes largely forgotten. The lesson here: When listing attributes of your product or service, make sure to put the most important where they are likely to make an impact.

Use People in Pictures (But Avoid Stock Photos)

Besides using them to direct attention, including other people in images on your site is generally a great idea. Humans like to connect to other people, in real life as well as on the web. It’s why, for example, we have about pages on blogs. You can see this at work in one case study by Basecamp. They managed to increase their conversions by 102.5 percent by changing from a text-based landing page to one with a large photo of a person in the background. Simple but effective. However, one caveat: the whole effect is easily negated by stock photos. A Nielsen Norman Group study found that we are very adept at recognizing these generic images and tuning them out. For that reason, if you are going to use images of people on your site, make sure they are genuine and real. Include your staff or customers. Just say no to stock.

Direct Attention with Visual Cues

One of the main functions of web design is to guide users. You can do that by giving different weight to different elements, thereby directing focus where you want it to go. However, you can also use more direct visual cues to achieve this. One is by taking advantage of the fact that humans tend to look in the same direction as people they see in ads. Notice how in the image above, more people are reading the text the baby is gazing at then when the baby was looking at the camera? This is a real thing and you can use this to direct attention on your site where you want it most. However, you don’t have to be that subtle about steering visitor attention. Sometimes it helps to be blunt about it. For example, in one study, researchers tested the effects mentioned above against a simple arrow pointing at stuff. Funny enough, the more direct method outperformed the subtle cue. Let that be a lesson to you.

Prioritize Scrolling Over Clicking

So, if you don’t compress information into sliders and/or accordions, how do you present it? The answer: just put everything in one long page, including the stuff usually tucked away. Seriously, it works. There is a fascinating case study by Crazy Egg to prove this point. They went from having a simple, short sales page to one that was 20 times longer than the original. The result: conversions went up 30 percent! That’s certainly nothing to scoff at. Seems like users like scrolling a lot more than they like clicking. Therefore, if you are currently spreading the information about your product across many different pages, it’s time to reconsider.

Avoid Carousels, Sliders, Tabs and Accordions

Website owners love carousels. It’s probably one of the most client-requested features. Unfortunately, the research says that they are pretty useless. One of the most mind-blowing data comes from Notre Dame University. The webmaster there noticed that the first slide on a carousel received almost 90 percent of the clicks while the rest were largely ignored. Ninety percent! Doesn’t sound like the other slides are even worth being there, does it? Seems like web designers who talk their clients out of using a slider had it right to begin with. Tabs and accordions have the same problem as sliders and carousels – they often go ignored. This is compounded by the fact that few visitors actually read the entire page. Most people merely scan and are therefore not very likely to make extra clicks to see your content. However, what if you need to include the information placed in those areas somehow? We are getting to exactly that right now.

Keep it Simple

Continuing with the theme of less, this also applies to your design in general. A huge study by Google has shown that visitors don’t like visual complexity. The gist: the more complex your design, the less it is perceived by visitors as beautiful. What does that mean for your site? Besides the point above, here are a few ideas:

  • Rethink the sidebar — More and more websites are ditching the sidebar in favor of single-column design (for example, the one you are on right now). It means less distractions and puts the focus clearly on the content.
  • Stick to standard layouts — People love familiarity and can get weirded out by non-standard site designs. Therefore, it can be a good idea to stick with familiar design tropes and layouts. You can still find ways to stand out in other ways.