When designing a website, it is so easy to get carried away with its aesthetic appeal.
While an attractive and eye-catching design may capture the imagination of visitors and earn their praise, however, it cannot overcome issues such as confused messaging, a complex layout or painfully slow loading times.
All of these factors translate into sky-high bounce rates and a low conversion rate, so you will need look beyond aesthetic design to create a purposeful and high-performance website that meets all of your consumer’s needs.
To help you out, here are our five commandments of website design:
- Communicate your purpose and messages clearly
Have you ever heard of a technique called mind-mapping? This is a process which encourages individuals to organise their thoughts into a clearly-defined and logical visual representation, helping them to understand their thought processes and share these with others.
This is the role that a website needs to play in relation to a wider brand, as it conveys all primary messaging clearly and in an easy-to-understand manner. This applies to both your business philosophy and product information, as consumers want to access information quickly while also being engaged by your brands unique persona (or tone of voice).
It is therefore crucial that your website visually communicates the core message of your brand. To achieve this, try to organise information as logically as possible while using headlines and bullet-points to remain concise. This should create a funnel of information that ultimately directs customers into making a purchase!
- Sacrifice design features for quick page loading times
While it is important that online visitors quickly understand your brand’s message, it is even more imperative that your individual landing pages load quickly. This is borne out by statistics, with pages that take in excess of four seconds to load recording an abandonment rate in excess of 25%.
Finally, ensure that any incorporated videos are embedded from a site like YouTube or Vimeo rather than being hosted on one of your own landing pages.
- Make your Website Mobile Friendly
In case you didn’t know, it was on April 21st 2015 that Google released its first, and extremely significant, mobile-friendly ranking algorithm. This was introduced to increase the ranking of mobile-friendly landing pages and websites, using myriad of metrics including page loading times, layout and formatting.
We have already touched on the importance of loading times, while the layout of your page will also require careful attention. Start by investing in a responsive design which adjusts automatically to alternative screen widths, before integrating drop-down menus, utilising actionable icons (where relevant) and ensuring that all CTAs are included above the fold.
- Help visitors to Navigate your Website
Navigation is another crucial element of website performance, as this refers to the ease with which visitors can traverse your online portal and complete a transaction. This extends beyond communication, however, as you must use the layout and structure of your website to create a concise and simplified customer journey.
Simple grid patterns can play an underlying role in this, as they organise your site into separate sections and prevent content from becoming scattered. You must also apply logic when structuring your landing page hierarchy, with breadcrumbs and actionable icons crucial in guiding customers and directing them to crucial information.
To help understand this, remember the unwritten ‘three-click rule’ which is central to website design. Through this, you should aim to ensure that users can access the information that they need within three-clicks or less from anywhere on the website.
- Use the F Pattern Design
Eye-tracking studies have become increasingly influential in modern website design, and there is good reason for this. One such study has revealed that online visitors tend to scan computer screens in a coarse, ‘F’-shaped pattern, starting with the top and left-hand side of the screen before panning across to the right.
You should therefore design your site to suit this navigation, rather than attempt to challenge the reader’s natural flow. This can be achieved by creating a list of the elements that you would like to include on each page before prioritising these in order of importance. Then simply incorporate these elements from left to right, ensuring that seminal messaging and CTAs are given pride of place on your website.
To discuss your next web design project or any other requirements, please contact us on 01423 206320.