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The dos and don’ts of engaging web design

 

Compelling and user-focused web design is essential to any digital marketing strategy. Here are some tips to ensure yours is effective.

scott_blog

Posted 22 April 2019
by Scott Bloomer

It’s easy to assume that web design is all about making things look great on the page. Sure, good website design should be visually appealing for a user, but more importantly it’s about ensuring people have a good user experience on your website.

Web designers are not just the creators of pretty pictures (though we can do that, too). They’re also experts at aligning your website functionality and user experience in line with your digital strategy to deliver users information they need and compel them to take action.

Here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to creating effective and compelling website design.

“Before you start designing anything, ensure you have a clear handle on what your goals are.”

Do: Go beyond aesthetic

You can have a beautiful website but if it doesn’t achieve the goals you want it to then it’s doing you no favours. Your website is a tool to gain new leads, engage prospective users and convert them into loyal customers. Before you start designing anything, ensure you have a clear handle on what your goals are. Do you want to generate email enquiries? Sell more products? Get someone to book a consultation? Whatever it is, have these goals in mind when designing your webpages, as this will help to ensure the site meets your requirements as a business owner.

Don’t: Forget about functionality

All the elements on your website should serve a purpose and this is where wireframes come in. Wireframes are basic outlines of each landing page that draw attention to the basic structure and function of the site– the elements that will have an impact on user experience. By eliminating imagery, colour, and copy, they help the designer to consider the functionality of each element on a page, placing a strong focus on developing the best possible user experience.

Sometimes it might seem that the design process is a bit drawn out, but taking the time to strategically focus on the functionality of each page ensures your site is going to achieve the goals you outlined in the planning stages.

Do: Keep the Design Simple

Users should be able to understand what you do instantly by taking a quick look at your website. Don’t sacrifice your brand message in favour of quirky design elements or too much text. Often the simplest designs are the most effective. Making use of white space is a good start as it helps with the legibility of copy on the page and allows readers to retain information and easily.

Adopting this “less is more” approach will help keep people on the page, users on the website and reduce bounce rate. Rather than trying to do too much, take a leaf out of the book of famously minimalist companies like Apple and keep things simple. A clean design strategically guides your user through the site so they’re more likely to take action in the way you want them to.

Don’t: Hide your calls to action

Every landing page should have a clear call to action above the fold – an enticement to do something. This action will be decided by the metrics you use to determine success – these are your website goals.  The call to action might be to download a whitepaper, give you a call, book a free consultation, buy a product or make an enquiry. Through clear and consistent placement, button styles, colours and copy your calls to action will stand out on the page.

Do: Align your content with the design

Content is king – the copy, imagery and video you choose can make or break a site. It’s crucial that the tone of language and imagery reflects your brand values and relates to your target audience. As with design, the content on your page should be clear and concise. Use your homepage as a smorgasbord. Let it show bitesize chunks of what your site has to offer, leading people to relevant content without giving them War and Peace on the homepage.

Don’t: Leave your users hanging

Have you ever filled out your details using an online form, pressed “Submit” and then wondered if anything had actually happened? On a good website, this shouldn’t happen! Every action needs a reaction, and if a user fills in a form or presses a button they need confirmation that their action has been a success.

To ensure that users are engaged at every stage of their journey through your website, it’s helpful to map out how their user journey before designing the webpage. UX designers and developers will always consider the customer journey and what will happen when certain actions are taken on a page and ensure that the design is assisting this journey rather than hindering it.

Do: Keep the Design Simple

Users should be able to understand what you do instantly by taking a quick look at your website. Don’t sacrifice your brand message in favour of quirky design elements or too much text. Often the simplest designs are the most effective. Making use of white space is a good start as it helps with the legibility of copy on the page and allows readers to retain information and easily.

Adopting this “less is more” approach will help keep people on the page, users on the website and reduce bounce rate. Rather than trying to do too much, take a leaf out of the book of famously minimalist companies like Apple and keep things simple. A clean design strategically guides your user through the site so they’re more likely to take action in the way you want them to.

Don’t: Hide your calls to action

Every landing page should have a clear call to action above the fold – an enticement to do something. This action will be decided by  the metrics you use to determine success – these are your website goals.  The  call to action might be to download a whitepaper, give you a call, book a free consultation, buy a product or make an enquiry. Through clear and consistent placement, button styles, colours and copy your calls to action will stand out on the page.

Do: Align your content with the design

Content is king – the copy, imagery and video you choose can make or break a site. It’s crucial that the tone of language and imagery reflects your brand values and relates to your target audience. As with design, the content on your page should be clear and concise. Use your homepage as smorgasbord. Let it show bitesize chunks of what your site has to offer, leading people to relevant content without giving them War and Peace on the homepage.

Don’t: Leave your users hanging

Have you ever filled out your details using an online form, pressed “Submit” and then wondered if anything had actually happened? On a good website, this shouldn’t happen! Every action needs a reaction, and if a user fills in a form or presses a button they need confirmation that their action has been a success.

To ensure that users are engaged at every stage of their journey through your website, it’s helpful to map out how their user journey before designing the webpage. UX designers and developers will always consider the customer journey and what will happen when certain actions are taken on a page and ensure that the design is assisting this journey rather than hindering it.

Do: Ensure your design works on every device

You may have heard the term “responsive web design” used in relation to websites. It’s more than a trendy catchphrase; it’s absolutely essential to the success of your business. Have you ever been browsing a website on your smartphone and had to zoom in to read the tiny text, or noticed images jumping around on the page? It’s pretty frustrating, so don’t give your users the same experience. Designing your site to be compatible on all devices and browsers will ensure that no matter where your users are or what they’re using they’ll have a great experience.

Don’t: Let things slide. Test, test and test again

No matter how incredible your design looks when it’s all mocked up and ready to go, the true test of an effective website design happens once it’s live and people start interacting with it. Make sure you’ve got Google Analytics set up so you can monitor how people are engaging with your site.

Do: Listen to user feedback

Sometimes it’s hard to tell why things may not be working as you’d hoped, and the best way to understand how people are using your website is to ask them! Reach out to your users and ask them how they found the experience of navigating your site. Listen to what they say and if common threads pop up consider making tweaks to the design in order to improve their user experience.

This is just the tip of the iceberg

At NZ Digital, we’ve got a superb team of designers who help us craft beautiful, functional websites for our clients. Take a look at some of our work or if you have a project you think we can help with get in touch.

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