There are discussions going on about which element we should focus on when building a website: aesthetic, content, or functionality? The point of the discourse is not to undermine one element against the others, but to see which one should be prioritised and should get our utmost focus. But the danger with thinking one of these trumps the others is neglecting design best practices to satisfy just one element.
For instance, if you are a designer who believes that aesthetic is what gets people subscribing or purchasing on your website, all your time and effort will have to be spent developing the most beautiful looking page on the web. This means usability and content takes a backseat. That is why you can still see web pages that offer nothing in their copy and provide poor user experience.
What you want is a website that offers all of these elements. Combined, they can make your website look both sleek and credible. Online, it is hard to tell your audience that you are a trustworthy site because they cannot see your face. However, if you are able to make a good first impression through your website, then gaining their trust is easy to do.
Knowing the difference: Good design vs. Bad design
The problem with basing all your design decisions on trends is they are dependent on how your audience responds to it. Not to mention, trends change almost every month, and you cannot just revamp your website whenever new ones come up. However, there are design best practices that can guide you as you go along with creating your website.
1. Intuitive navigation
2. Clean layout
3. Good combination of colours (limit it to two or three loud colours and two neutral colours)
5. Appropriate font style and size
Consider these your evergreen design principles, ones that separate poorly designed websites from ones that are impeccably designed.
Design mistakes to avoid for optimum engagement
There is a reason why a lot of website owners turn to a free website builder of their choice: fulfilling those design principles is not as easy as it sounds. To avoid gaps in the design, it is also best to know what you should avoid doing while creating your page.
There is no relevant information to offer
One of the purposes of your website is to be able to inform users about what you do and why they should choose you among other brands or bloggers. They must be able to form an informed opinion on you based on the content or value proposition you have provided for them.
Make sure you get to highlight your services and products at the first fold of your website by creating catchy headlines with brief subheadlines and then putting a Read More button to know where they can get an expounded explanation. Provide social proof as well in the form of testimonials from long-time customers, readers, or clients.
Is not mobile adaptive
We have moved towards the mobile age when people are more likely to engage with your page on their tablets and smartphones rather than on their desktop. Now that Google has made mobile-friendliness part of their ranking criteria, it is imperative that you design your website to adapt to changing devices. This might mean that you should not create a complicated layout so that you will not have to make major tweaks on mobile view.
Slow page speed
The optimum time for page speed is in less than two seconds. A slow loading time may be caused by media that are too heavy, unnecessary plugins, or Flash. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to get a detailed list of things you need to fix so that your website loads.
When your audience gets to your site, they should not squint just to read your text. If this is the case, they will certainly not bother reading the rest of your content even if you have good social proof. To fix this, make sure to test font styles and sizes across all devices. The ideal is a body text that has above 14px in a Sans Serif font.
Does not have an SSL certificate or is not HTTPS
This is a big red flag for websites. If you noticed, websites that are not secure, that is, websites that do not have an SSL certificate or not in HTTPS, have a harsh red “Not Secure” next to their URL. This is one of Google’s efforts to ensure that the websites the users are going to are safe. A lot of information is being phished due to bogus websites, which is why Google is doubling their crackdown of unsafe websites.
What you want your audience to see is a big, green ‘Secure’ next to your URL, so make sure you purchase an SSL certificate from the Internet registrar of your choice.
No contact information visible
Contact information is another way of ensuring your audience that you are a real person they can transact with. All pertinent information they need to know to contact you must be seen either in a Contact Us page or at the footer of every page. Give them the option to get in touch with you in case they have an important inquiry.
Putting too many outbound links in visible areas
There is nothing wrong with promoting your social media channels on your website. But you also want to drive a lot of traffic on your page and lessen bounce rates. Outbound links will increase your bounce rates, which Google will notice. Remember that search engine juice is not just based on optimised content and shared links on different channels. It is also the length of time a user spends on your website. The best thing to do is to place them either at the footer or at the side as a slider. Never put it in prominent areas like the first fold.
A good website design can lead users to a clear path to conversion. For this to work, think ‘simple’. You do not have to overcomplicate the design and compromise usability just because you want it to look aesthetically awesome. Remember that users are getting smarter when it comes to user experience, so never sacrifice a clean, professional website for just the aesthetics.
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