Whether you are looking to update your current website or creating your first website, one of the top things to keep in mind is how you choose to design that website. It can be easy to dismiss investing time or money into your websites aesthetic – particularly if you are a brick and mortar store – but it’s important to remember that your online destination reflects your business just as much as any employees or physical collateral will, if not more so, since the Internet is so readily available.
Essentially, you have three options when it comes to revamping your website design:
- Do everything yourself.
- Hire professional help.
- Make use of templates and wireframes.
Of course, time, budget and you’re already-present knowledge play a role in determining which route you’ll take. Regardless, any of those options can be daunting, especially if you’re new to creating a professional website.
If dollars spent is not an issue, perhaps hiring a professional agency to build a custom website is the perfect path.
Or maybe you like to do things yourself (nothing wrong with that!). If you want full control, but aren’t sure where to begin, learn more about the logistics of building your own website here.
However, the final option is a combination of the first two choices – essentially, you can contract a company to design a template for you, then you populate that template with the content that’s the most crucial for your business. From personal experience, this is the option I prefer. It typically strikes the perfect balance between beautiful design, quick timelines and a strict budget.
What makes a good design?
Whether or not you have a background in design, being able to determine the good from the bad isn’t as tricky as you might believe. There are essentially four main pillars to look for when analyzingwebsite design (and creating your own):
- Grid structure
Read on to learn a bit more about why these elements are so important for design, and tips for implementing them seamlessly.
Maintain a clean grid structure in website design.
Grid structure is a slightly more technical way to think of a webpage’s layout. Essentially, good design is constructed on the backbone of invisible pillars. In the same way that the rule of thirds informs beautiful photography, a proper grid structure upholds all good website design. Tech wiz Apple is a prime example of a clean, organized website built on an evenly spaced grid.
A simpler way of identifying grid structure is looking at a website and asking if you see evenly spaced content (even in responsive modes), margins with equal distance, and consistent proportions throughout (tech wiz Apple is a prime example of a clean, organized website built on an evenly spaced grid). If so, this is what you want to achieve.
Familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of various structures, such as the standard 12-unit and simple four-column grid structures. That way, whether you’re designing your website yourself or working with an external agency, you’ll be well-versed in the project and design from the ground up.
Ensure your website design has clear navigation.
When it comes to websites, getting your users to the desired destination is only half the battle. The harsh reality is that if users have no idea where to go (or how to get there) upon landing on your website, you’ve failed.
This means that navigation should not be a design afterthought.
From the very beginning, create a logical structure that tells a story while maintaining the hierarchical structure you need for business. Determine the actions you ultimately want your consumers to take, the information you want them to know, and the pages that will provide all of that – then make it easy to find.
Take The New Yorker, for example. The literary powerhouse features a clean navigation bar, plus sticky navigation to ensure all readers can discover the content they crave quickly and easily.
Don’t neglect mobile, either! While I’ll touch on the importance of smartphones a little later, remember that easy navigation on mobile devices is equally as important. These design modules may even need to be more prominent due to the slightly altered layout mobile optimization often brings. Keep this at the forefront of all navigation and layout conversations.
Create a website design that’s on-brand.
In perhaps the most obvious part of designing a website, you’ll need to, well, actually design the website.
Just like any marketing materials or products you produce, you’ll want your website to feel like a seamless extension of your website. Break out that brand book, and adhere to it. Utilize the same fonts and colors that make your brand unique. Include high-resolution imagery and background colors that keep your website readable.
And, above all, focus on a pleasant design that ranks high for user experience. Remember, if your consumers don’t enjoy their time on your website, they’ll have no reason to return, which ultimately defeats the purpose. Every element and effect – no matter how big or small – should be rooted in improving the user’s experience. If it doesn’t achieve that, omit it from the design.
Boutique fitness studio Y-7 Yoga encapsulates this entire idea well. Just like their dark, candlelit studios and hip-hop inspired mantras, the website features stark contrasting hues, buzzy company collaborations, and easy-to-find content that their consumers crave. Everything from the text to the images matches the experience you’ll find in-person, making their website a perfect expansion of their brand.
To help you get started on your design, explore various UX/UI wireframe tools and e-commerce themes that you can either employ or use for inspiration.
Ensure your website design is optimized for mobile.
Lastly – and most importantly – take time to make your website mobile-friendly. Over half of all Internet users surf the web on their smartphones, making mobile arguably more valuable than desktop.
While this may seem like something that transfers easily, you’ll want to take the time – whether it’s with developers, designers, an external agency, or just yourself – to test every mobile function. In addition, DesignRush suggests including very visible calls to action, autofill forms and a single-column mobile layout. Combined with a beautiful design that mirrors your desktop website design, these features will contribute to an easy and positive experience for all users on every platform.
Albeit simple, Adidas’s search and purchase functions are fully optimized for mobile, making it easy to complete a purchase or browse on your phone. What’s more? They even include promotional banners and discount codes on product pages, ensuring customers are in the know about every steal and deal the sports outfitter has to offer.
Conclusion: How Your Website Design Can Foster Business Growth
All in all, investing in these four design components will provide a big payoff. Studies show that strong website design does in fact boost a business’s bottom line, but that when certain aspects (cough, mobile, cough…) are ignored, users feel directly neglected by a company. Combat that negativity and foster pleasant experiences with the tips above.