Your website design is more than just the artistic representation of your brand. Whether you are a blogger trying to make it big online or a company working on your web presence, your design should reflect you. It should convey the mood and vibe that fully represents you, promote credibility, and become a gateway for you and your audience to connect.
This means that if there is a disconnect between your design and the way you deliver content, your audience will be left confused. An effective website must serve the following purposes:
- Provide relevant information
- Encourage visitors to go to other pages
- Convert to subscribers or paying customers
- Become staunch supporters of the brand
On top of this, you must make sure that your website is not just aesthetically pleasing, but it must be functional and have high-quality content. The last thing you want is a poorly designed website, with off-branding message, coupled with atrocious user experience.
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So here we will explore how to make a website effective and the characteristics that lead to website success.
Have a clear visual hierarchy
Visual hierarchy is how you present elements on your website in a way that shows first what is clearly important, and then everything else next. In other words, it influences the order in which people perceive those elements. On your website, you must have a clear visual hierarchy because there will be parts that are more relevant than others.
Ideally, elements like your value proposition and pertinent calls-to-action must be prominent on your website. Note that prominence does not necessarily mean you have to make them big on your website. These elements just have to appear on the first fold of your website.
Keep the layout simple
Your visitor must know which links to click and where to go once your website finished loading. You can do this by keeping the layout simple and easy to understand. Look at your navigation, how many items are on the menu? Should they all have their own main page? If not, then lessen the number of items to at most just six clickable main pages.
According to the Paradox of Choice, the more options you give people to choose from, the more they will not choose anything at all. The idea is because you have overwhelmed a user with too many links to choose from, the time it takes for them to make a decision is longer and risks the possibility of leaving your website because it is just too much.
You should be able to evaluate whether some content can be combined with each other so that you can lessen the pages they need to go to just to get information. More importantly, do not hesitate to delete an element when it is not serving you. If a page is not getting any visits at all, check whether you do need to have that information on your website. If not, remove it.
Make use of whitespace
White space or the negative space intentionally left empty on your website is important mainly because it is what helps you elevate the most relevant features on your website. It gives your images and copy breathing space so that the site does not look cluttered and cramped. Utilise the white space properly and you can make your website look professional and sophisticated.
Show your value proposition first
You can do this through the hero banner. Feature a high-quality image with a catchy headline and a brief explanation. For instance, if you are a steakhouse, you can use a picture of the juiciest meat to lure people in and make them want it. Then write a headline that tells them exactly what they are looking at, a juicy piece of meat smoked to perfection, followed by a short description to entice them more. Then finish it off with a call-to-action button to either order online or look to look at the menu.
Careful aesthetic choice
Design obviously means that you will have to make aesthetic decisions, which can be overwhelming even for a specialist.
- Colour choice
Let us start with colours first. When you choose a colour palette, make sure these are hues that harmonise rather than contrast each other harshly. The same idea is applied in choosing a logo design, so the assumption is that your colour choice for that already looks cohesive. Then, pair your colours with neutral colours like white or grey to give the eyes a chance to rest from bold, loud colours.
For calls-to-action, you can test which bright colour to use that will make people click on the button. As an example, you will notice that most hotel websites use a bright yellow colour for their Book Now button, because when their marketers tested it, the most bookings were received from it.
- Font style and size
As for typography, the general rule is to use Sans Serif fonts for the body text, use only up to three typefaces, and optimise the size by sticking to 12-16 pts. You need to test the font style against the colours that you have chosen on your website, because some colours may drown out your text. They must be readable and should not look like a thick, brick of text.
- General length of content
Limit your sentences to, at most, 18 words to keep it concise. Break up your text into paragraphs, taking into account the need for white space. Your homepage can have as many as 300 words of copy for the whole page (this includes home, teasers, and other elements that need a copy).
- Proper symmetry
Your website must be well-proportioned and balanced. Remember that people usually look at the whole first before focusing on the individual parts of the website. So on the onset, the website must make an impression already. You can do this by following symmetry rules like Fibonacci’s Golden Ratio or the Rule of Thirds.
The latter is much simpler to understand because it only requires you to follow a three-by-three grid. You must place the most prominent features of your website where the lines intersect.
These characteristics may seem overwhelming, but these are design best practices that have been tried and tested over time. Keep these in mind while you are creating your website, and you will surely create an effective page for your audience.
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