Having a website is one thing, but being on top of the search engine results page (aka SERP) is another thing entirely. In my article Website Design Services for Female Entrepreneurs you’ll discover the many reasons why you should invest in a professional website for your business, and in this article you’ll learn the Top 10 Principles of Good Website Design so you can make the most of your investment.
Discover the Top 10 Principles of Good Website Design
What makes a website good? Some features are very tangible, and easy to understand while others are more abstract. Listed here are the top 10 principles of good design for websites to help you get you more organic traffic.
#1: Website Purpose
A clear purpose is one of the main principles of a good website. Keep in mind that a user visits your website with an intent to gain something, usually a piece of information. Each page should serve a purpose that caters to the user’s needs. Avoid having websites that do not benefit their viewers in some way. People are less likely visit it, and you will not gain a desired outcome such as a signup to your list or a sales conversion.
This article from Active Business Growth answers the question What Is The Purpose Of A Website? Your business may have just one purpose, but will more likely be a combination or 2 or more.
#2: User-Friendly Web Design
You’ve heard the term “user-friendly” and that should be one of your priorities in creating a good website design. The user is more likely to stay and browse if the navigation – or menus – make sense. The navigation menu titles should directly inform the viewer of where they will end up when they click a button.
Try adding a search bar to the top of your pages so visitors can go exactly where they want, quickly – and make sure the content of each of your pages is focused on answering a question that your customers are asking. Make sure other information like your contact and social media links are not the central focus, but are easily accessible.
Design principles also include the information on your website. A user should find useful information on your website, that solves a problem or answers a question for them. Make sure your content is presented in a way that is easy to digest and understand. Try chunking the content into small paragraphs and use bullet points where possible.
Tips for Presenting Your Content
• Include the most important information in the first two paragraphs
• Use headings and subheadings
• Bold important words or phrases
• Group small amounts of related information visually
• Use bulleted and numbered lists frequently
• Frame as useful tips or hacks
While the main purpose of your website may be informational or to sell your products or services, keep in mind that it is also the face of your brand. The more useful and focused the content is, the better it is for your brand.
Having an aesthetically pleasing website is an absolute necessity and sticking to a defined colour scheme is a great way to keep your look and feel consistent. Colors bring out different emotions for the viewer, so its really important to make sure to use colors that correspond to your intent. For example, a website with red colors is bold. Red is used by a lot of food companies because it triggers the part in our brains that crave food. Websites that focus on self-help, on the other hand, often use light green or sage which people tend to associate with calmness and nature.
Choose your website palette by looking at your existing brand or logo colors. If you don’t yet have any brand assets, consider a Quick Start Brand to get up and running. Choose one dominant color and two accent colors to use throughout your site, plus a neutral color for your body text.
Lastly, choose one contrasting color to use on call to actions and buttons, because you want those to stand out and be immediately recognizeable as something to pay attention to.
Fonts are a dime a dozen these days but choosing the right font for your website isn’t as easy as it sounds. Like colour, each font evokes an emotion so its important your choice of fonts represents the style expected by your target audience. Typefaces come in three general styles.
Serif Fonts – tradition, history, reliability, safety
Sans Serif Fonts – modern, contemporary, clean
Script Fonts – feminism, romance, grace, elegance
As a general rule, I like to choose a font family with both serif and sans serif styles, paired with a complimentary script font for accents.
#6: The F-Pattern
Have you ever thought about how a visitor to your website actually scans a webpage? The answer to that question is “in an F-Shaped pattern. When the human eye lands on a page to read, it follows the strokes in the letter F, or from left to right, and top to bottom. This is the natural flow of the eyes and it’s easier for people to view your content if it follows this pattern. In a nutshell the readers eyes scan:
First, across the top of the page to read important headlines
Then, down the left side of the page to view numerals or bullet points
Lastly, across the page again to read bolded text or subheadlines
Understanding this phenomenon allows you the advantage of creating a visual hierarchy so you can place your “call to action” in the best location to encourage conversions.
Humans are visual creatures. Most of us rely on visual images to register the data we receive from the outside world. Because of this, for good website design, it is extremely important to use high quality images.
Unique branded photography is always best, but if you’re not confident with your photography skills, or are not ready to hire a photographer, I highly recommend using professional stock photography to give your website a high quality professional look. I still caution clients to be careful which stock photos you choose. Some are definitely better than others so its important to do some research before diving in.
#8: Load Time
On average, users will only wait 3 seconds for your website to load before they leave. Keep your website visitors engaged by optimizing the loading time of your website. In a nutshell, the simpler the features and design, the faster it loads. Site speed falls under the heading Technical SEO, which as the name suggests, is quite technical however, it isn’t the only way to optimize your website. Check out my recent post 5 SEO Quick Wins Every Woman in Business Needs to Know for some easy and practical ways to optimize your website and boost traffic.
#9: Visual Hierarchy
Visual hierarchy goes hand in hand with the F-Pattern mentioned above. Visual hierarchy shows the importance of each element on your page by manipulating these characteristics:
Size – Users notice larger elements more easily.
Color – Bright colors typically attract more attention than muted ones.
Contrast – Dramatically contrasted colors are more eye-catching.
Alignment – Out-of-alignment elements stand out over aligned ones.
Repetition – Repeating styles can suggest content is related.
Proximity – Closely placed elements seem related.
Whitespace – More space around elements draws the eye towards them.
Texture and Style – Richer textures stand out over flat ones.
Try using the visual blur test to determine if your website has a good flow or it’s too distracting. Simply take a screenshot of your website and upload it to the BeFunky tool Blur Image. Click on Get Started > Open > Computer and navigate to your screenshot. Scroll down the menu of tools on the left hand side and click on Blur. Apply a 30% blur. Notice where your eyes are drawn to. Make sure that important details are the first things you notice. If it’s not what you want to stand out, it’s time to go back and make some revisions.
Last but definitely not least, your website MUST be mobile friendly. On average, 53% of users are looking at your website on a mobile device. Your website should be professional and responsive to your desktop users, but Google ranks it first and foremost by the mobile experience so keep your design clean, and avoid distractions like pop ups and advertising to improve your website’s visual appeal on mobile.
Creating a website is a lot like making an advertisement or graphic art. There are many things to consider so the viewer not only gets the message, but enjoys the experience. By following these Top 10 Principles of Good Website Design, you can make the most of your website investment, and turn your website viewers into raving fans and customers.