People around the world would have a different opinion on what the perfect website should look like, and that’s because a website’s design is based on people’s experience and perspective. One look may be liked by many, but it might not be by others. I tried going by the name Eugene for a bit and some people in the office actually started calling me that (and liked it for a bit), but ultimately, I think Cedric suited me best because that’s just who I am. I also thought I’d look good with a shaved head, but ask me again after I’ve had a pint of Guinness.
There are many factors that contribute to successful web design. That’s why our team of well-rounded and knowledgeable designers and I compiled a bunch of tips to help you keep your website looking snappy and running smooth.
Plan your site design (and your audience)
Don’t start designing your website without a plan. If you have an idea for what you want your visitors to learn and see on your site, you should consider what might look better for your visitors, content they would want to read and information that they want to look for—you should essentially know who your audience is!
Information is the key
Gather as much data as possible to help you map out your next design strategy. Take what you already know about your existing customers’ preferences and use that data to plan your design strategy. Again, it’s all about knowing who your audience is and making the right choices to keep them glued to the page.
Most visitors don’t know what to do next after they’ve landed on your site, especially for new visitors. Since they’re not familiar with your website, they wouldn’t know how to respond to the information that’s presented to them. Calls-to-Action elements, like forms or buttons, are implemented by many websites to suggest what steps their visitors should take next. By implementing call-to-action elements on your site, you can help your visitors browse your site and lead them to where they should go next.
Use the right images
Images sometimes carry the design to your page and offer the most visual flair, but if you’re not using the right images, they can leave users confused about what you’re trying to tell them. It’s also important that your using images that aren’t owned or photographed by other people without their permission because that’s a legal battle that nobody ever wants to go through. The best way to tackle both of these things are to grab stock images from reliable sources—some are free and some are not, so it’s totally your preference. Using stock images help to build trust with your visitors, while the right implementation of the image will bring more realism to your site and help legitimize your brand, so choose them wisely.
A huge study was done by Google that shows visitors prefer websites with more simple and familiar designs, compared to something a little more complex. Keep your site design simple and make sure it follows proper design guidelines, like having your logo on the top left, the main navigation across the top of the page, social media icons in the footer, etc. Much like a really difficult relationship, the more complex it is to navigate the less beautiful people tend to perceive it.
Include social share and follow buttons
You’re missing out on so many potential users if you don’t have social shares and follow buttons already. These are small buttons added all around the site, usually seen below a featured item on your site, header or footer. Social share buttons will help you boost your chances of getting new visitors when existing customers share your site to their social media pages (unless those particular customers just share slacktivist rants on Facebook, or flood their Instagram page with unnecessary selfies in front of a dirty mirror, in which case, no one will want to see what they post). These share buttons will help increase your site’s traffic without being too pushy and it’s a must-have feature to have on your site.
Nowadays, the majority of users browse the internet on their mobile devices or tablets because everybody’s got them (it’d be weird if they didn’t in this day and age). If your site is not mobile friendly, there’s a big chance that’s the reason why you’re not getting new visitors to your site, or even worse, losing your existing visitors.
Reference new trends
Referencing competitors and new trends is a good tool to improve your design. Checking what’s trending and applying them to your site will most likely catch the eyes of your viewers and potentially get new ones as well.
Keep it simple
Just like some superhero movies and sci-fi epics that come to mind, too many special effects, explosions, spaceships and robots just blur together and mute what’s going on in the movie—and It goes the same with your design. Don’t add too many special effects like gradients, shadows and font styles to your website because you’ll quickly move toward a bloated and aesthetically-muted image. Just use enough “special effects” to touch up your design, like removing those awkward cables holding up Superman by the crotch harness so it looks like he’s actually flying.
Creativity and originality
Always look for opportunities to push your creative abilities and web design skills. Find ways to stay above industry standards and achieve creating the most original graphics possible. Don’t be afraid to experiment, be inventive, or combine different design techniques.
Once you are comfortable with your expertise, you can start setting trends and creating designs that correspond with your own unique style, leaving a personal stamp on your work. If you think your website still needs more simple and mobile-friendly design, Strathcom’s got some of the best web designers on the block!