Small business owners know that content is vital for increasing reader engagement, encouraging customers, and pushing people through the sales funnel. That being said, even the most interesting information in the world won’t do well if it’s on a poorly designed website.
There are specific design choices (like white text on a black background) that discourage readers by making the viewing experience unpleasant or even uncomfortable. If you want to build the most beautiful and effective site possible, follow this list of dos and don’ts.
Website Design 2016: Dos
Crafting a page for the internet isn’t like writing a paper for school or college. Our expectations have changed over time, and now it’s very easy to spot websites that don’t meet these requirements. Any time you’re building a page you should:
- Pay attention to your color palette. Remember, warm shades like red and orange are exciting. They can call for action or bring memories of sunshine and summertime. High-energy companies, such as a skateboard retailer, will likely enjoy brighter hues. Cool shades often are more sophisticated and relaxed, and may be better suited for a site with a more casual nature.
- Include images. People are naturally drawn to graphics and pictures, especially when greeted by forward-facing models. High-quality pictures are visually stimulating and help keep viewer attention.
- Follow the F pattern. The top left corner of your page will get more attention than anywhere else. Our eyes scan in an F pattern, meaning we read the introduction then browse for the information we’re after. Well-designed websites will always take this into account, even when publishing blogs and product pages.
- Balance content and white space. Too much content is glaring and overwhelming for your viewers. Make sure there’s enough white space to give their eyes time to adjust. At the same time, look for a balance between your elements. While people spend more time looking at the top left, they still favor symmetrical designs for everything but text.
Faux-Pas to Avoid
There are plenty of simple mistakes people make every single day. When you’re building or renovating your site, make sure you avoid:
- Amateur images. Nothing will make your site seem outdated faster than poor quality or badly manipulated photographs. Watch out for pixelation, displeasing colors, stretched proportions, and shoddy layering techniques.
- Outdated designs (i.e., WordArt). At one time, these options were the first choice for sprucing up a grade-school presentation. Today, they have no place on your site. You’re better off having no graphics at all than building a site that looks like a third-grade project.
- Excessive advertising. Spam and popups are everywhere, and if your website resembles either of these in the slightest, people will be quick to turn away. If your viewers can’t tell the difference between your content and an ad, you’re in trouble. Some consumers will avoid a website forever if they see too much advertising.
- Too many graphics. High-quality images are good, but blanketing the page in text bubbles and small pictures is not. When the page is too busy, it will feel overwhelming and spammy. Every image should have a specific purpose – don’t slap it on the page just because you can.
- Jarring colors. Bright shades can be a wonderful tool to set the mood for your website. Unfortunately, they can make or break you. When your colors are too bright, they can be downright painful to view on a screen, plus they are distracting and unprofessional looking. Keep things simple and try not to oversaturate.
- Bogged-down load times. Flash was the most interesting way to interact through your site at one point, but now people are focused on speed. Try to avoid software or huge videos that take too long to load. Your viewers could get bored and leave before the page fully loads.
Crafting a beautiful website is important, and not as difficult as it may seem. Keep these guidelines in mind and you’ll be able to build the prettiest online platform possible.
Woman Looking at Website Photo via Shutterstock
It will help to look at existing websites that are aesthetically pleasing and build your design from there.