Every business knows how crucial it is to maintain a consistent online presence, with updated information, frequent content, and keywords that make your website more accessible to find through a search engine. So you put a lot of effort into making sure that your site is visible, up-to-date and engaging, with relevant information about your business and connections to your various social media channels. But have you ever considered how much the design of your website might affect your traffic?
The answer: a lot. Your website design is critical to attracting your audience, and it’s important to understand why so that you can better serve your customers and draw even more people to your site. Even more importantly, paying attention to your online aesthetics prevents you from losing customers — statistics show that 75 percent of consumers judge the credibility of a business based on its website design and customers who don’t like how a site looks are more likely to leave it before buying something.
So what are some specific reasons that your website design matters, and how can you alter yours to serve your customers’ needs better? Read on to learn how to hook your audience with the right website design.
Make no mistake: content matters on a site. But if that content is not presented in a way that is easily readable and pleasing to the eye, then no one will pay attention to it (especially when they could find similar products or services from a competing business with a well-designed website). So when you’re thinking about how your website should be designed, understand that form and function should work together in tandem. You need to make sure that you’re presenting the information you need to be while also not making the site so cluttered that it doesn’t look good.
One major problem with swinging too much in the direction of content is that your site layouts can become too busy or complex. This can be tempting if you have numerous website sections, as well as links to your social media accounts and multimedia elements like videos and photos, but you need to work on separating out these elements into their separate sections rather than grouping them all on the front page (which, unfortunately, happens more frequently than you’d think). The busier the design, the less appealing it is — plain and simple. Though you don’t necessarily have to go fully minimalistic, it’s helpful to have minimalism in mind when you design your site — keeping only what is essential and reducing something to its bare bones wherever possible.
Another issue is when your site has pop-up advertisements or other ads that might seem flashy or flamboyant. Not only does this distract and annoy the viewer, but it also draws attention away from the products that you are trying to sell. As a solution, you can purchase the domain name from many web hosting sites so that you and anyone viewing your site no longer have to put up with advertisements.
Then comes the readability — which is evident in the fonts, colors, and motifs that you use. Readers are immediately put off by websites that use print that’s too small to read comfortably, or that’s too large and requires a lot of scrolling. Fonts should be as simple as possible — don’t go for any crazy cursives or themed fonts, as these just end up looking tacky (and are also difficult to read). Colors that are too bright and discordant (not complementary) can be jarring, while a complete lack of color (for example, having a plain white background with black text, like a simple HTML page) looks boring and unappealing. It’s all about balance and finding colors and fonts that work well together.
Another element of a poor design is not so much about what’s on the page, but how quickly viewers can get to see what’s on it. Load times — which depend on the quality of your website hosting platform — matter to users, most of whom say that they expect a web page to load in two seconds or less. When it comes to e-commerce and business, 79% of online shoppers said they would not return to a site that loaded slowly, which means having a poor website loading speed can be incredibly detrimental to your business. Invest in a powerful web server that can ensure your site loads as quickly as possible, creating a better web experience for your customers and followers.
Finally, in an era where almost everyone has (and frequently uses) a smartphone, it is crucial that your site is mobile-optimized. That means that when a user opens it on his or her phone, it isn’t just a miniature copy of your desktop site, but is specially laid out to conform to the mobile platform. This makes it easier to read and use and helps build engagement with your site in a way that works across platforms.
Now that you know what makes a bad design, how can you make it better? To start, it’s important to understand why good design is so crucial for your business. Mainly, it’s all about trust: users trust a site that’s aesthetically pleasing and well laid out, and you can not only avoid losing customers but can gain customers by making sure that you can turn clicks into conversions with a good website design.
With that in mind, you can start to think not just about what to avoid, but what to move toward. When it comes to sound website design, begin by thinking about the overall layout: Is your navigation bar visible and accessible? Is it uncluttered and straightforward, like the rest of your site? Does the organization of pages make sense? Are the most important parts of your site — like the online store and contact information — prominently displayed, and are the other sections easy to reach? Make sure that all of these elements are present so that you know it’s easy for your customers to follow along with the organization of pages on your site.
Accuracy is essential, too. Each time something in your company changes — from your management to your business hours to your prices or product line — update it on your website, so that customers can learn that your site is a reputable source of information about your company. You should also make sure that everything you post is free of typos and spelling errors — you want to maintain professionalism at all times. Finally, include testimonials from actual customers so that any site viewers know that the facts you’re presenting are backed up by the experiences of others just like them.
Another element of good design is your call to action, which should be prominently displayed and easily accessible. The call to action is what you want your customers to do — whether that means following you on social media, downloading a form, entering a contest or — of course — paying for your product or service. Ideally, the call to action would be a separate button that viewers could click to make the actual action that much easier. In this case, display the button in a prominent location (like in the center of your page) in a different (but complementary) color than the background to help it stand out.
The call to action should be supported by outstanding text content throughout your site, which avoids fluff words like “the best” or “the cheapest” and instead clearly and concisely explains what your business does and how you can help a customer with his or her needs. This text should always aim to answer one question: how can your company solve the customer’s problem? By approaching it from this mindset, you can simply and easily communicate why your business exists and present a convincing argument for why someone should buy from you.
You should also make sure that you have appropriate imagery to balance out the text on your website. Though it’s important to not have too many multimedia elements, like autoplay videos, because they get annoying, photographs usually don’t hurt if you have more than necessary, as you can then choose the best ones to use for your site. Use the photos to illustrate the points you’re making, but avoid cheesy stock photos and opt instead for more realistic, company-provided photos. You can also use other visuals, like videos (sparingly) and charts, to illustrate what you do and how you can help customers. If used in the right amounts and at the right time, these can be very effective in driving traffic to your site.
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