by Patrick Compton

December 18, 2019

Design 5 min read

8 Design Essentials Your Website Needs to Have

Your website is the face of your business. It’s the first thing your potential customers see before visiting your store or even contacting you. It’s what drives conversion, encourages engagement, and grows your audience. 

So, you need to pay particular care to how your website looks like.

Good web design

The Designer Institute of New Zealand’s Best Design Awards delivers a simple but stunning website design. 

Excellent websites focus on a three-element pyramid of design: usability, utility, and an organised visual layout

To achieve that, here are some principles you need to apply:

Simplicity

Neon Hive

Digital agency Neon Hive’s website presents no-fuss design. 

Think about the most popular sites on the internet. The best example is Google. The world’s most visited website contains just a search box in the middle.

Sure, there’s the option to change locale or the I’m Feeling Lucky button. But other than that, the homepage remains simple and distraction-free.

Popular websites follow the same design principle. They focus on functionality. 

Keep your website clean and simple. Users should easily access the information they need. Don't make them work hard to find it.

Consistency

Mantis Digital

Mantis Digital’s website design is consistent in all areas – colour, font, layout, and more. 

As users move from page to page, there needs to be clear consistency in design. Headings, fonts, sizes, elements, and buttons should all look the same.

Choose all these things in advance. Create a design guide before you even start building your website. Then, use preview functions to see how texts and buttons appear onscreen.

After you've found the right fit, use cascading style sheets (CSS) to store your design choices. Then, you’ll have everything you need as you expand your site.

Mobile Compatibility

Mobile Compatibility 

Total web traffic is now over 50% mobile. More people than ever use smartphones and tablets to access the internet. 

And this number is only increasing.

Your site needs to be compatible across screen sizes. Otherwise, you’ll lose customers and get hit with an SEO penalty.

Scan your site to make sure it’s mobile-friendly. You may need to tweak some elements.

Nowadays, many people design mobile-focused sites from the start. For businesses developing their first website, this is a great approach. It's often easier to adjust a mobile site to desktop than the other way around. 

Organisation

NZ Herald

NZ Herald’s info is divided into categories neatly displayed all throughout the site. 

Visitors spend more time on sites that are better organised. The more time they spend on your site, the more likely you are to convert them.

Use the three-click rule for your site. All pages and information should be available within three clicks.

Begin with a simple menu that allows users to find main pages. This menu should only contain a maximum of five items, ideally: Home, About, Services, Blog, and Contact.

Also, create internal links to further increase navigability. You’ll receive an SEO boost when you do this as well.

Engagement and Conversions

What the Fat

What the Fat? features effective use of calls-to-action. 

The purpose of your website is to engage customers. You want them to engage with your content and drive conversions.

This is doubly true for ecommerce businesses.

Each of your web pages should encourage either of these behaviours. Don’t go overboard and stick “buy now” buttons everywhere. Create different opportunities for your customers on each page.

For example, write a blog post that talks about your industry. At the bottom of the blog, you can use a CTA (call to action) like “Learn more about our services.” This allows users to learn more about your company and spend more time on your site. 

As a bonus, this internal link is great for organisation. Sprinkle CTAs around your site in smart locations.

Readability

Osbournes

Osbornes’ About page is easy to read due to the use of white space, headings, and font pairings. 

You might have the best design in the world, but the text is still king. 

Text provides the information your users need to know. Search engines know this and will rank your site accordingly.

That said, your website text should be readable and consistent throughout the site.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Structure your text. Make use of headings, subheadings, bulleted or numbered lists, and others.
  • Use colour wisely. Choose colours that are easy on the eyes. If you’re having trouble with colour combinations, use colour scheme generators like Colorsupplyyy.
  • Choose functional fonts, meaning visually appealing and easy to read. Consider font pairings that contrast but complement each other. Use a maximum of three.
  • Make use of white space. White spaces are portions in your website that are left empty. This makes room for your website elements — like text — to breathe.

Accessibility

Enable New Zealand

Enable New Zealand commits to making their website up to accessibility standards. 

Your site should also be accessible to everyone — including the specially-abled.

Using alt text on images is a start. But other elements may not render properly. Make sure your site is accessible; test it using tools like Web Accessibility

This doesn’t just help your SEO efforts. It also shows you’re willing to put in effort for all of your audiences, boosting your trustworthiness as a business. 

Some of the key things your site needs for accessibility include: 

  • Alt text 
  • Text resizing 
  • Video and audio content 
  • Page titles
  • Keyboard navigation
  • Colour contrast

Testing

Testing 

All great websites exhibit the principles listed above. But you still need to do a few tweaks.  

For one, your target audience may have different desires and behaviours. For example, companies targeting younger demographics are media-driven. A website with minimal text and more photos and videos would work well for them.

Different brands also have different needs. 

Considering these factors, make sure to do an A/B test for all your design changes. Track your results with analytics tools, retain what works well, and improve those that don’t.

Takeaway

Effective web design is simple, functional, and usable. When designing your website, focus on these principles. With them, you’ll develop a platform to grow and engage your audience. 

While you design your website, don't forget these 6 must-haves.

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