With over 600 million active websites, everyone wants their website to stand out above the rest. We all know a well-designed site when we see one, but coming up with our own layout can be challenging. We also know that websites need to properly display necessary information so that the customer knows exactly what products and services you provide. With that being said, it’s easy to over-do it. Grabbing a customer’s attention while including services/products, contact info, latest news, and social media is hard to fit onto a laptop screen, let alone a 9 inch tablet. So back to the basics it is!
Web Design Tips: Stay Focused!
What is the purpose of your website? Will a consumer know exactly what you do within seconds of arriving? If not, don’t expect them to stick around. When you arrive at a webpage, your eye should immediately be drawn to something; a main focus if you will. If you have more than one or two areas of focus, you don’t have any.
An example of a non-focused website:
Yes, this is an extreme example, but it proves my point exactly. When arriving at this homepage, where do you fist look? I was just as confused as you, and my eyes nearly jumped out of their sockets to find something that would pull the site together. I exited out of the page as fast as I could, fearing for my sanity. Don’t do this!
Now, a good example:
This site has a strong central focus that gives you an instant idea of what its products and services are. After your eyes settle on the main image on the page, you can then easily look for more options. The square menu options are easy to find and direct the consumer wherever they need to go. These buttons are identical in size and shape, and align with the larger image, creating an easy-to-navigate grid.
Web Design Tips: Keep it Simple!
We have all heard of KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid, but these words still reign supreme when it comes to design work. White space should guide and empower the user, not confuse them. Having too much text, too many pictures, or too many links can overwhelm and turn off the user. Homepages are meant to be a title page not an appendix. Additionally, you want your customers to get into your website beyond that first page. The more pages a user goes to, the longer they will be on your site, and the more likely they are to become a customer of your product of service.
Example of cluttered design:
This site clearly has a focus, but is lacking simplicity. With three horizontal bars across the top, I’m not sure what is what. Similarly, if I took the time to read through each and every link on the left, I’d be here all day. Not good for a busy mom trying to order something quickly and not a positive user experience either.
On the other hand…:
This website has a clear focus and is elegantly simple. You immediately know what they’re providing, and because of the easy to find menu options you WANT to go deeper into the site. This is important when selling any product, service, or idea.
These two important characteristics of a site are crucial to making a positive difference in site traffic, overall web presence, and sales. Here are some step-by-step actions to take to make sure your site is focused and simple:
Testing: Go outside of your own mind and business to ask random users to review your website. Try to test different groups of people including women, men, kids, tech-savvy, etc. By having different opinions about what the main focus of your site is, you may find out some interesting data. Are the majority of your testers agreeing on one main focus? How fast can they find it? How long does it take for them to realize what the website is about? All these questions are relatively easy to find out, and can benefit your business in the long run.
Visualize: We use the word cloud tool Tagxedo to determine what a website’s content is attempting to focus on. By doing this, we see which words are written most frequently, and subsequently which we need to focus more on.
Simple Design: From focus, we can shift to simplicity. By knowing what you want your main focus to be, you can decide what other elements you’d like to highlight. Each website differs, but set a goal for amount of text on the homepage. If you can’t read each heading, menu option, and link in less than 20 seconds, you probably have too much going on. Additionally, users should be able to have a strong idea of where a link will go immediately. Have a clearly defined link with proper anchor text, informing them exactly where it will take them. If people are bouncing around from page to page, your links may be unclear.
We can’t all be graphic designers, but these simple design guidelines should help you along your way in creating your own site, helping somebody else create it, or even picking out a ready-made website theme. With some direction we can all have a functioning, easy to use website!