In the 21st century, a website is one of the fundamental ways your business shows the world it means business. A website adds credibility to your organization and makes it easier for customers to engage with you.
A website expands your business beyond your geographical limits. And because a website allows small businesses to act big, every business can use the Internet to position itself for never-ending success.
But a website can also harm your business if it is badly designed. Your website is often the start of your conversation with customers. But unlike face-to-face interactions, you may not always be able to instantly correct a wrong impression with online customers. Moreover, on the Internet, the competition is a few clicks away rather than blocks away. So when setting up your online presence, everything must be done to maximize the opportunities.
You cannot afford to be average with your website design because a poorly designed website will:
- Erode your credibility
- Annoy customers and drive them to your rivals
- Damage your business’ bottom-line by negatively impacting sales
But these unfavorable outcomes can be avoided if you pay your website design the attention it deserves. Effective website design is not a mystery. Many businesses that are probably smaller than yours have mastered the art and used it to launch themselves into seasons of unprecedented success.
There is no reason why your business can’t do the same. All it takes is to understand and implement these time-tested principles of good website design.
1. Keep it simple
The number one rule for designing a website that customers will find useful is simplicity. A simple site will be easy for online visitors of all skill levels to use. Designers sometimes try to put their expertise on display by making fancy additions to a site. But these irrelevant elements can be distracting to visitors.
If a website is visually appealing, and the visitor’s attention is directed where you want it, then that is enough. A simple design also helps other design principles work better. however, note that simple is not the same as basic.
2. Choose the right color combo
Colors have an impact beyond people’s natural preference for one color over another; colors have the power to influence mood. The colors you use on the site can make it feel overwhelming or it can spark visitors’ interest. Colors can convey a sense of positivity and optimism or they can influence website visitors to have sad and depressing thoughts.
When choosing colors for the site, it is important to know the particular psychological response created by each color. Choose only colors that match the feelings you want visitors to have. Additionally, don’t choose too many colors. A site with too many colors can look unprofessional or dated.
3. Use high-quality images and videos
Images grab attention because they are evocative. People easily relate to images of things that are relevant to their everyday lives. With the right pictures, you don’t need to speak so many words. But simply putting pictures on the website is not enough; quality matters.
Although, it is possible to get quality images from many online sources, avoid them. For the pages of your website, you are better off with custom pictures that can only be found on your website and reserve stock images for use on your blog posts.
4. Focus on the customer
Customers need to know that any business they are dealing with is genuine, competent, and trustworthy. Companies are often misled into thinking that the way to give customers that assurance is by talking about the business. That is not correct since customers don’t care about your business, but about the problems they want to solve.
Show them your company’s competence and professionalism by the way you design the website to preempt and to answer their questions. From the first moment a customer arrives on the site they must be connected to the right steps to reach their desires.
5. Follow the eight-second rule
What is the eight-second rule? That is how long your website has to catch visitor’s attention before they click away to another site. People are not going to patiently scroll through the pages of the site looking for elusive answers. They want the answers to the problems to be in their faces.
Some of the ways to make sure your site engages people the second they arrive include: headlines that are short, sweet, and accurate; images that align perfectly with the content; engaging videos; and great content that uses engaging words.
6. Make site navigation easy
Site navigation is about how easy it is for users of the website to go from one page of the site to another. A well-designed website is one where navigation is intuitive because all the pages of the site are accessible.
The elements that make for easy navigability include a menu bar that appears on every page of the site, a navigation bar that tells users what page they are on, dropdown menus for linking to secondary website pages, a search bar and sitemap, and a footer that contains the same content as the menu bar and other necessary information.
7. Use the F-pattern layout
This is about how the majority of users read the information on their device screens. Because speakers of English write from the left to the right, English-speaking website users will tend to look toward the left side of their screen. They will scan the page from left to right (horizontally) before their eyes drop to the next level, where they scan the page again from left to right.
Finally, their eyes return to the left side of the screen, but this time they scan vertically downwards to the bottom of the page. Understanding the F-pattern will guide you in where to place your most critical information on the screen.
8. Make the site mobile-friendly
The majority of people who use your website will do so via a mobile device – a smartphone or tablet. Since these devices have smaller screens than desktop devices, the web page has to display differently on the mobile screen. To be able to do this, the website has to have a responsive design. It should be able to rearrange the content of a page to suit the screen size on the user’s device.
Finally, make sure your website loads very quickly. If you do these and keep improving, the website can fulfill its promise of being a veritable tool for business growth.