Good web design is about more than just pixels on a screen. The best web designs focus on UX first and foremost, but where to start? Here are our top four considerations when it comes to making solid web design choices:
People are no longer content to access your website from the desktop – mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets now make up more than 23% of online browsing, and the numbers continue to climb.
Your website must be accessible to website visitors in multiple formats, and you need to plan your web design accordingly. Styles that look good in a typical desktop format will need to be adjusted for tablet and cellphone screens. Likewise, certain design elements will have to be sacrificed in order to make up for the limited visual real estate for these devices.
For example, a large hero image may look great on a larger desktop, or even some tablet screens. But large images with no functionality are a waste on even the largest cellphone screens, where minimalist designs should be the rule and not the exception.
Bringing in more “mobile friendly” design elements is a notable trend in web design of late. Recently, the email marketing company MailChimp redesigned their entire user interface to make it more accessible to mobile users, merging the desktop experience and tablet experience into a single design.
Ease of Use
The harder it is for a web visitor to use your site, the more likely it is that they will look for answers (and take their business) elsewhere. Even if you are selling a relatively complicated product or service, don’t make it difficult for users to find what they need.
Areas where web design can excel in ease of use include creating an intuitive sitemap, having readily visible (and consistent) navigation, and using images to effectively communicate instructions and concepts.
Poor functionality is one of the biggest frustrations that can cause users to abandon your site in droves. Website visitors expect certain conventions to be followed – for example, if text is underlined and blue, it’s generally accepted that this will be a hyperlink.
Break that convention, and you will have web visitors who think that your website is broken instead. This reduces trust, and can make it difficult (if not impossible) to drive conversions. When it comes to mobile devices, functionality is even more important. Users who are on the go won’t waste time trying to get your site to work, and a negative mobile experience translates into a negative perception of your company as a whole.
Successful functionality in web design can be summed up in two simple points:
- Stick to established design conventions
- Offer full functionality based on the platform – desktop or mobile
You can have the best website around but if visitors don’t return, your investment is wasted. That element of web design that encourages repeat visitors – “stickiness” – is harder to quantify than the others. It is part of the iterative improvements that all good web designers must make.
In terms of the basics, you want to be sure that:
- Your social media campaigns are successfully merged within the website design to encourage social interaction
- Updates such as blog posts or new products are given proper prominence on the site
- User-generated content is showcased effectively
- Your web design encourages participation and a sense of community
While color choices, fonts and other elements are important in good web design, these aesthetic choices must be guided by the above elements in order to ensure your website attracts and retains your target audience. What’s the one biggest web design question you have? Let us know and we’ll publish our answers to your questions on the blog or in future newsletters.