April 11, 2018
If you’re looking to invest in branding and web design, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself the question: “Is my web design really that important?” Well, as someone who has chosen to design and build websites for a living, my answer is a resounding
Your website is the virtual storefront of your business. It’s up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year selling your brand and telling your story.
Of course, I don’t expect you to just take my word for it. So today we’re digging into some of the testing and research to prove that just having a website isn’t good enough.
Do you know how long it takes for users to form an opinion about your business?
As per Google, first impressions are formed based on what users see on your website within 39 milliseconds! On top of that, users form a stable impression within the first 50 milliseconds. That means the impression visitors form in less than a second, isn’t likely to change with additional time.
So what type of message does poor web design convey?
Research here found that poor web design can be an immediate trigger of distrust in your brand says Social Triggers. Boring web design, poor navigation, corporate look and feel, and cluttered or busy layouts were all cited as reasons why participants didn’t trust a website.
The job of a web designer is to keep users on your website and to help build trust with your audience through intentional and thoughtful design.
I’m sure this comes as no surprise. We all skim text online but do you know what percentage of content on average is actually absorbed?
A good web designer understands how to naturally guide readers through a website using visual cues and text hierarchy. They know how to mix fonts and take into consideration optimal font sizes and paragraph structure. When laying down website copy in a design, it’s so important to maximize readability thereby keeping readers on the page.
What do you do when you come across a website that is slow to load? You move on to the next one.
Analysis conducted by Bing found correlations between page speed and website performance indicators such as user satisfaction, revenue per user and clicking speed. This means the slower the website was to navigate the worse it performed and the impact hurt the overall revenue of the business.
A web designer should always have website performance top of mind. Your web hosting provider, file types and sizes on your web pages and plugins you’ve installed can all negatively impact the speed of your website.
Your site navigation is so important! Website visitors must be able to find what they are looking for in a seamless way. If they can’t, users simply leave says the Neilson Norman Group.
What does this mean exactly?
For starters, your navigation menu at the top of your website must be clearly labeled, easy to read and easy to access. When readers are scrolling through your website, there should be options to navigate back to the top or down to the bottom if it’s a lengthy scroll. Also, having additional navigation in the footer of your website helps readers navigate once they get to the bottom of a page. Of course, these navigation features should be used consistently throughout your website.
It’s also important that the sitemap or page structure of your site is simple and logical. Readers should be able to find what they are looking for in a minimal amount of steps. Just having a search bar is not enough as visitors are more likely to rely on the navigation features than a search bar.
In addition, responsive design is now a must. Many of us use smartphones as a primary means of accessing the internet. If your website doesn’t adjust to various screen sizes it will most likely be too hard to read on a cell phone and visitors aren’t likely to stick around.
A good web designer will pay attention to the user interface of your site ensuring a positive experience for your users.
This point is similar to the one I was making about first impressions above, but it speaks a little more about the emotions you are trying to convey with your brand story. Since most people make purchasing decisions based on emotions, your website aesthetics should be a top priority as per Smashing Magazine.
The colours, patterns, typography, and imagery you use on your website combine to visually communicate something to your readers.
The starting point of any web project should be to define what the purpose of the website is. You then design with that goal in mind. Are you trying to get customers to call you? Maybe you want to grow your email list? Or maybe you need to get visitors to purchase an item in your online shop?
Determine the intended function of your website. Think about what emotions you want your readers to feel and develop the design from there.
This one makes a lot of sense. Familiarity is comforting. Think about how you feel when placed into a new situation – it’s uncomfortable, right?
Google warns if you have a design that is unexpected from the norm this may negatively impact a user’s first impression of your website. We’ve already explored how first impressions really matter in the online world.
When you are trying to stand out in so much noise, how do you know when to deviate from the familiar and when to follow the pack? A good designer will have a grasp on what needs to conform and where it’s ok to take risks.
Google found the higher the complexity of a website, the more users perceive it to be less beautiful.
So, what do they mean by complexity?
Think about the experience of a new visitor waltzing onto your website. Is there a natural progression of actions for them to perform as they make their way through your website? Or are they faced with multiple navigation options to read here, visit you on social media or check out your offerings?
The more choice you provide, the more confusion and indecision you are creating for your visitors as per Kissmetrics. So, make sure to integrate the KISS principle in all aspects of your web design.
For some tips on how to simplify your website, check out my post here:
Related Post: How to use the KISS Principle on your Website
I’m Vanessa, a west coast Canadian girl obsessed with all things design who left her corporate gig to build websites for like-minded creative entrepreneurs. I’d love to help you too!
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