Website Design: 10 Tips You Need to Know

Website design is about more than just slapping pretty photos onto a template.

Website design has come a long way since the days of Myspace pages and Geocities. It’s an ever changing and evolving game.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working on your first or 20th website, there’s a lot to know about designing one. If you’re looking to build a new site or redesign your current site, here are 10 design tips you need know:

1. Make sure your site is built with responsive website design in mind.

Over half of adults in the US own a smartphone. That’s a lot of people surfing the web from their phones. If your site doesn’t load properly on their phones, then they’re probably leaving it.

When you’re designing your website, keep in mind the three major devices people use to surf the web:

  1. Laptop or DesktopYour website design needs to be responsive, so visitors can use it on any device.
  2. Tablet
  3. Smart Phone

Your website should load on all three of these devices without users having to zoom in and out to read the content, view images, or watch videos.

2. Use visual hierarchy on every page.

Basically, visual hierarchy is the idea that certain elements dominate attention and attract views. This is both good and bad for website design.

It’s good because it means you can design your website in a way that places more emphasis on key content and messages.

It’s bad because it means you might end up giving the wrong thing a higher visual value on a page without even realizing it.

Think about the size, color, layout, style, and spacing of text and images on your site. It’s important to know what’s standing out on a page. Then, you can make your most important content more visually attractive-drawing the attention of visitors.

3. From headlines to CTA buttons, always use readable text.

If your text isn’t readable, then you’ll have some major issues. There are a few things that come into play:

Your website visitors need to be able to read the text on your site, no matter what page they're on.

Size: There is such a thing as too big and too small when it comes to website design. If your text is too big, it’ll take up too much of the screen and everything else will be lost. Too small, and your message won’t be noticeable or readable.

Font: The fonts you use on your website need to be readable across devices and browsers. Some fonts don’t scale from device to device the way you want them to, resulting in poor placement and miscommunication.

Location: Just like in real estate, it’s all about location. Location. Location. Your text needs to be in a location that promotes and enhances it.

4. Use The Right Images

Website photos needs to be relevant to your business and message.

You aren’t generic and neither is your company. Why leave visitors thinking you are?

The images you use on your website need to convey your brand’s message and value proposition. Don’t use photos that have nothing to do with your business or the hand drawings your daughter made in art class.

Your website design needs to have professional graphics and photos that apply to your business and message, promoting your branding strategy.  

5. Create contact forms to collect visitor information.Contact forms help your website bring in leads.

Contact forms aren’t just something your website has because it’s the norm. They’re something you need. If set up and optimized correctly, there’s no reason forms shouldn’t be bringing in leads.

Think of your website as a salesperson and that contact form as an introduction. It’s a chance for a visitor to reach out and for you to get more information.

6. Design landing pages that convert visitors into leads.

Landing pages are the perfect opportunity for you to target specific consumers. If you do them correctly, they’ll go to work for you collecting lead after lead after lead…

Your landing page is a place dedicated to converting website traffic based on an offer. That offer could be an ebook, a webinar, or a whole slew of other things. It doesn’t matter. The goal is to provide visitors with something that is valuable enough for them to provide you with their contact information.

7. Place calls to action on every page.

Every page on your website should have some sort of CTA that directs traffic to take action.

For example, at the bottom of the Iconic Digital Agency homepage, you’ll find a CTA encouraging visitors to request a consultation, if they have any questions.

CTAs help drive website traffic to the pages you want them to see.

And on our page about website design, we encourage visitors to download our marketing e-book, if they have questions about maintaining a blog or getting ROI from a website.

 

8. Use simple navigation for an increased user experience.

If visitors can’t find what they are looking for, then they’ll move on to a different site (likely a competitor’s).

In fact, 40% of website visitors will leave your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

That’s a lot of missed opportunities. Top level navigation should be simple to understand and use. You might be tempted to fill every need or answer every question with a link in your navigation, but limiting it can help guide visitors even more.

Making the experience easier and simpler will help you avoid overwhelming visitors.

9. Don’t use distractions like videos or music that play automatically.

If you’re looking to create a retro (read “outdated”) website, then by all means, use autoplay music on your website. Better yet, don’t allow visitors to turn it off.

You can do that if you’re looking to drive traffic away from your site, too.

Music and videos that play automatically are a distraction from your message. If you want visitors to listen to something or watch a video, then direct them to it. Don’t force it on them.

10. Test your site.

Twice. Three times. Twenty times. Test it every day, even after it goes live. Testing your website on a regular basis will help ensure that everything is running smoothly. Here’s what you need to test:

  • Links
  • CTAs
  • Buttons
  • Navigation
  • Responsive design
  • Backend updates
  • SEO
  • Forms
  • Site speed
  • Images
  • 404 pages
  • 301 redirects

The list goes on and on and on. (We could probably fill up a couple of pages with things you need to be testing your website design for.)

There’s a lot that goes into building a website. It’s not as simple as purchasing a domain name, slapping some photos on a theme, and writing a catchy tagline.

Sure, your site needs a domain, awesome images, and impactful content, but it also needs to be optimized for search engines. It needs calls to action. It needs to be clear and your message needs to be strategically thought out. Doing it all on your own is rough.
You need a strategic marketing team full of web designers and content writers who can help you craft the perfect message and build a strategy that works.

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Carolyn Byard

Carolyn is Iconic's art director and office dog handler. She strives to build unicorns, and she is completely obsessed with the fusion of beautiful design with strong strategy for unforgettable user interfaces.