You only get one chance to make a first impression, and when it comes to your website, you have just milliseconds to do so!
According to one study, you have just 50 milliseconds to grab a visitor’s attention and keep them on your website; is your website’s design engaging enough?
Making a good first impression is crucial to your website’s success. Your website’s design needs to:
- Captivate its audience.
- Cultivate trust.
- Discourage visitors from moving on.
Visitors who know nothing about your business will be asking themselves: ‘Can I trust this business?’ and ‘am I inspired to buy into this brand?’
They will make snap judgements on how credible your business is based on their first impression of your website so it’s not enough to simply have an online presence; you need to own it.
To keep up with competitors your website needs to look professional, provide a first-class user experience, and be designed with conversion in mind, encouraging users to buy your products or get in touch now.
A successful website can improve a brand’s credibility and reputation online and help to bolster the business to success.
Designing a high-performance website isn’t easy though. As well as needing a lot of technical know-how, you’ll also require up-to-date knowledge of web design psychology and best practices.
Here at topflight, we are lucky enough to have both technical and CRO specialists at hand who combine forces to design websites that are not only beautiful to look at but perform seamlessly too, attracting new visitors and turning them into paying customers with ease.
Web design best practices
1. Responsive design
A responsive web design ensures that your website adapts according to the size of the screen it is being viewed on to improve user experience.
Did you know that more people now browse the internet on their smartphones than on desktop computers? If your website doesn’t have a responsive design, then it may not work properly on a mobile phone, meaning that you’ve lost over 50% of your visitors straight away.
Google also favours websites with responsive designs, so having a mobile-friendly website will help to bump you higher up the search results.
2. Simple navigation
There’s nothing more frustrating than going round and round in circles trying to find what you’re looking for on a website.
Keep your website’s structure and navigation as simple and intuitive as possible, users should be able to get to any page in just a couple of clicks. Don’t forget that users could enter your website through any page, so navigation should be simple and natural throughout.
Website navigation best practices include:
- Arrange links according to priority from left to right.
- Ensure navigation text is easy to read.
- Include branding, contact details, and a CTA in the navigation bar.
- Use clear and concise wording.
- Don’t offer too many options.
3. Keep it uncluttered
Your website’s visual design should be clean, uncluttered, and aesthetically pleasing.
Websites that are too busy risk feeling chaotic and confusing, making it more difficult for users to work out what your business is all about.
Remember that sometimes less is more and use the following tips to keep your website feeling calm and uncluttered:
A) Use white space wisely
Don’t feel the need to fill every last bit of white space on your website. Leaving white space helps to draw the eye to the important information on the page and avoid your website looking too busy or chaotic.
B) Break down and bullet point text
Use short sentences and bullet points where possible. Break down copy into manageable bitesize pieces rather than a wall of text.
C) Use soothing colours
Whilst you should use your brand colours throughout your website, you don’t want it to look too busy. Use calm and muted colours that complement the colours in your logo or branding to keep things looking clean and minimal.
D) Use imagery as well as words
Sometimes imagery describes, explains, or communicates quicker and more effectively than words. Use a large, high-quality image as the focal point on your website.
4. Invest in professional photography
When you only have a few seconds to attract the attention of your website visitors, choosing the right imagery to display above the fold is key.
Attractive, inspiring, and professional brand photography can speak a thousand words about your business.
Avoid using impersonal stock imagery and photos and instead invest in professional brand or product photography to showcase the personal side of your business and your brand identity.
Professional photography can be used to tell your brand’s story, express your company values and brand identity, and help you stand out from your competitors.
5. Visual hierarchy
Visual hierarchy describes the process of arranging elements on the page in the order that you want users to view them.
When we view a website, most of us will follow a set pattern, viewing the information at the top first, from left to right, and then scanning the rest of the page in either a ‘Z’ or ‘F’ pattern. Bear these patterns in mind when deciding where to place important information on your website.
You should aim to put the most important stuff in plain sight at the top of each page. The visual hierarchy of the content should naturally lead users to your desired result, eg. a purchase, or an enquiry.
You can highlight information on a page by carefully considering the size, colour, contrast, and alignment of each element to take users on a structured journey through your website. Visual hierarchy is very important to both user experience and improving conversion rates.
Consistency is one of the main web design best practices. A consistent design keeps your website looking professional and improves user experience by making it logical for users to navigate.
Each section of your website should use the same building blocks within its layout. Keeping the core framework of your website consistent helps to make navigability intuitive.
Your website’s aesthetics should also be consistent with the same colour palette, logo, and typeface used throughout. This helps to strengthen your brand identity, give your website more credibility, and makes it instantly recognisable.
7. Use a clear call-to-action
Don’t forget to tell your visitors what they should do next using a clear and concise call to action on each page.
Examples of CTAs include:
- Buy now
- Sign up
- Book an appointment
- Contact us
- Read more
- Add to basket
Combine clear and prominent CTAs with persuasive copy and imagery to significantly improve your chances of turning visitors into sales or enquiries.
8. Get to the point
When it comes to website copy, there’s no point beating around the bush or fluffing it up. Users need to understand what each webpage is about at a glance.
Ensure that the text and pictures used on each page, particularly those located above the fold, plainly tell users what the page is about and provide a clear call-to-action letting them know what you want them to do.
If you don’t spell it out to users straight away, they’re not going to hang around to work it out.
9. Make sure it is SEO-friendly
Unless your website is optimised for search, it will be difficult for it to reach its full potential.
You could have the most eye-catching, user-friendly design out there, but if no one can find your website it will be of little use to you.
Incorporating SEO into your website at the design stage will help to ensure that it shows up in search results for relevant search terms, helping your business get discovered by more people. More on this later.
10. Use trust indicators
Don’t be shy about using your website to showcase your business’ glowing testimonials, case studies, and reviews. Research has found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Positive reviews are a key trust indicator that consumers look for when making buying decisions. Displaying positive reviews, testimonials, and case studies can also do wonders for improving your business’ credibility and reputation online.
11. Minimise page load speed
We live in a digital world of immediacy. The internet and smartphones allow us to connect with businesses and shop for products at any time and from anywhere. We don’t expect to have to wait.
If your website takes a long time to load, then your bounce rates are likely to be sky-high, which means you’re losing customers. Research has found that 47% of users expect a web page to load within 2 seconds or less, making it crucial that load time is considered carefully when designing a website.
When it comes to web design, there’s no need to second guess what will work best. Performing A/B tests will help you to keep on refining your design and improving the way it works.
Is SEO part of web design?
Yes, SEO is absolutely part of web design, and SEO practices should be incorporated throughout the design of your website is to be a success.
Many businesses invest in a flash new website without first checking if the design agency will make it SEO-friendly. When they find a few months later that no one is visiting their new website, they contact an SEO agency to have SEO added in as an afterthought.
It is much easier and more cost-effective to implement the foundations of SEO during the design phase, rather than adding it in later.
Whilst the design of a website is mostly about visuals and SEO is usually more technical, the two disciplines do crossover a lot.
Before investing in a new website, we advise you always to check that the company designing it will do so according to SEO best practices.
For a website to be successful, you need both a web designer and an SEO specialist working together to design the site. SEO will attract visitors to your website, whilst your website’s visual design will be what keeps them there.
Here at topflight, we are an agency specialising in SEO web design, so every website we design is completely optimised for search.
What is SEO web design and why is it so important?
Making sure that on-page SEO techniques are incorporated into your web design is fundamental to your website’s success. SEO web design considers both users and search engines, helping to improve user experience whilst also boosting the website’s position in Google’s search results.
If you’re spending time and money on a slick website, then you’ll want to make sure that people can find it online. Did you know that when searching for something on Google, over 25% of people click on the first organic search result? Very few people even view page two of Google’s search results, with fewer still clicking a link on page two. If your website is nowhere to be found on the first page of search results, then you’re missing out on a lot of business.
An SEO-friendly design will improve your website’s visibility in search results for relevant search terms by ensuring the content on the website is relevant and valuable, the user experience is of high quality, and the website is simple for search engines to access, crawl, interpret, and index.
For a website to be successful, a variety of SEO best practices should be incorporated into its design and build, including:
- An SEO-friendly website structure.
- Writing SEO-friendly website copy that includes keywords and phrases.
- Including keywords and phrases in the website’s meta-data, page titles, and headings.
- Creating internal links.
- A responsive design.
- Page load speed.
- Image alt tags.
Want to find out more about web design best practice or incorporating SEO into your website’s design?
Here at topflight, we specialise in SEO. That means that all the websites we design and build are fully optimised for search, striking the perfect balance between aesthetics and functionality.
For more information about our web design and SEO services, get in touch today and we’ll be happy to help.