What is good web design? Is it an effective colour scheme? Or an aesthetically pleasing collection of artwork? Or is it more than that?
Some of you will hire a web designer to design your new website (or to redesign your existing one). Others will tackle the job on their own. No matter how you approach the creation of web design that works to build your brand, there is some advice that rings universally true…and I’ve got it here for you.
You can follow the trends; however, I always suggest that you filter through those trends carefully, only choosing to incorporate those that either meet your target audience’s needs or prove advantageous in expressing your brand’s values. Remember: consistency is key to building a brand. If your website is changing with every passing trend, your brand will suffer from a lack of trust.
So let’s get on with learning how to put web design to work for your brand.
Targeted, Effective Web Design
Anyone can throw together a website; however, the best web design is that which is created after careful study of a brand’s vision, mission and values. Every element should move your ideal clients closer to forging emotional ties with your brand…which will result in productive, long-term business relationships.
Are you starting to understand that web design is more than pretty pictures? If you’ve been fans of this blog for some time, you’ll have read other articles on web design. The advice in this one is new; things we haven’t talked about in the past.
And here they are: tips to live by when designing or redesigning your website, no matter the size or type of business you run:
- Use sidebars sparingly. There was a time when every website had at least one sidebar; and then there came a time when the information contained within them was no longer useful for the purpose of conveying pertinent information or creating a user experience. In fact, they started to detract from the user experience. A new approach might be this: Get rid of the sidebars, and fit more useful content above the fold (the content you see without scrolling down). Only use sidebars when they make perfect sense for your
- Make it responsive. There was a time when we recommended studying your target audience to determine how they’re looking at your website: PC, tablet or phone. Then, we suggested creating versions of your website to fit the screens they were using most. NOW, it’s imperative that all websites are responsive—that no visitor ever has to try to navigate a PC-focussed site from their phone. This would date your brand, making it seem not only unresponsive in design, but unresponsive to consumers’ needs.
- Pay for your photos, with time or money. Here’s the thing: those free photo sites have become nothing more than marketing strategies for bigger, paid sites. They’ll offer you a few generic photos for free, but all the good stuff is on the paid site. Don’t waste your time on those free libraries; the photos you choose will not only be of questionable quality, lots of other sites will have the same images. Instead, take your own one-of-a-kind photos or pay the fee to get access to the better sites.
- Do not make reading glasses a requirement. Quality of content always trumps quantity. With that in mind, forget about trying to cram as much content as possible above the fold by using small fonts. Remember that people will be looking at your website on their phones, too. Tiny font is enough to frustrate even the most sure-sighted patron, so when in doubt, go large.
- Be cautious about adding too much movement. At one time, scrolling galleries and sliders were all the rage. Now, they tend to be a distraction and few visitors will pay attention to the entire smorgasbord contained there. Instead, put your most helpful and valuable content front-and-centre. Get their attention and keep it…without distractions.
- Stop giving menus centre stage. By now, everyone knows that a website will have a menu, and all they’ll need to see is the menu icon to know where to go to find options. Taking up precious space with complex menus just isn’t cool anymore. Remember, always choose quality over quantity.
- Do more with tools. The number of design tools available to web designers is staggering, and finding the ones that aren’t just trendy, but that add to the brand experience your ideal customers want, can prove invaluable to the building of your brand. Ask your designer about shadows, scrolling, animation, interaction, layering, cutting-edge photo editing and more…always remembering that it’s only cool if it serves your brand’s customers and speaks for the values of your brand.
Not sure if this new advice will work for your brand’s website? That’s easy: Try one element for 30-60 days and watch your analytics closely. Then try another (or remove the element) for the next 30-60 days. Are people spending more or less time on the page with the first element or the second? Are they clicking through more often when the first or second element is in place? This A/B testing method is the only true way to determine if what you believe about your online audience is true. And do yourself a favour: Don’t question the facts. We, as marketers, are often surprised by what our audiences really want. Go with it, and your website will draw more ideal clients. Ignore those findings, and your website’s effectiveness (and therefore your brand) will suffer.
Are you hoping to learn more about how you can use web design, social media, internet marketing and more to make your brand more credible, visible and profitable? Then join us for the B.R.A.N.D. Building Bootcamp of your choice. There, Miles and I will impart decades’ worth of lessons learnt the hard way—so you can forge your own fast track to success. Register here.