Beauty is only skin deep. What’s on the inside matters most. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
These statements apply to people. But do they apply to websites, too?
You’ve undoubtedly heard us say that a pretty picture is never enough. Sometimes, it can be too much. You’ve probably also heard us say that focussing on a website’s aesthetics alone can be to the detriment of your branded message.
What you’ve never heard us say is that aesthetics don’t matter…that aesthetically astute web design has no place in the trust-building, expertise-demonstrating sales force that is your website.
Remember that a large portion of your target audience is likely to be made up of visual learners—those who gather clues, create memories and come to conclusions based on visual cues. For every visitor, and these people especially, the appearance of your website not only matters, it tells your brand story, communicates your corporate values, represents your vision and mission, and opens minds on the road to conversion.
Make an Impact with Web Design Visuals
Whether you’re wondering where to start or wondering how you can improve upon your existing website, these tips, learnt through formal education and my own professional experience, will help you to design a website (or work with a web designer) to create something that not only represents your brand, but that works for it.
- Keep your brand strategy close, for reference. In your brand strategy, you should have outlined your brand’s values, mission and vision. You should have also recorded your brand story. All of these things will be represented by the colours, contrast, fonts, lines, shapes, graphics, images and spacing that you choose to implement in your web design.
- Consider industry standards. If your business is an eco-brand, the colour green should play a role in your web design. If you’re a brand that serves women, your images should demonstrate that. If your brand is rooted in artistry, then choose a free-flowing font. These choices will not only exhibit your sensitivity to your audience, they will prove that you “get it.” By all means, let your brand’s uniqueness shine as priority number-one; however, never forget that, in most cases, you are bidding for the right to operate within an existing system.
- Choose photos with attention to nonverbal cues. I always suggest doing some research regarding facial expressions and body language, to determine if the people in the images you’re choosing are communicating nonverbal messages that will support your brand. You see, visitors will gather information from those images, whether they realise it or not. Perceptions of these things are rooted deep within the human psyche, and if your visitors are reading one thing and getting another from photos, your brand’s credibility will suffer.
- Theme matters. One thing templates have gotten right is the need for consistent design across all webpages. Your visitors may travel to different “rooms,” but they should always know they’re still in the same “house.” Create a sense of home on your homepage, and then stick to it throughout.
- Pay attention to balance. When you decorate a room in your home, you strive for balance. You wouldn’t cram all the seating, lamps, and entertainment into one corner of the room. Likewise, strive for a balanced look for every webpage, utilising disparity and extra white space for those elements that will prove to be especially important to your visitors.
- Set priorities with headings and fonts. Every webpage should demonstrate an information hierarchy—meaning that heading, subheadings and font style and size should give clues to the importance of each block of text.
- Speaking of fonts…No more than two fonts should be used on any given website, and those two fonts should be style-related. Create too much inconsistency among fonts (in headings and text), and you will create confusion and begin to erode the trust you’re working to build. Your message will be misconstrued and ideal customers will drift away…even if they’re not sure why.
Your website is the virtual stand-in for your brick-and-mortar shop. Just as you would strive to create a coherent flow within your store, you should strive to create an aesthetic experience that communicates your intentions, consistently, to every website visitor. You will not be there to control their perceptions; however, you can create something that guides them and speaks to them on behalf of your brand.
If your website’s performance has been disappointing…if you’re not seeing the traffic, clicks or conversions you’d hoped for…then you need some help. Get that help in our FREE download, What’s Wrong with your Website? This troubleshooting guide will not only list those things your website should be accomplishing, it will help to walk you through solutions to some of the biggest website brand-busters. Download it here.