Sometimes a good first impression is the difference between a lost customer and a sale. When you’re designing your website, that’s the goal– building a positive first impression. If a customer sees your product in an ad or on social media and heads to your website, the design should inspire confidence that you’re a legitimate business.
You don’t need to be a professional graphic or web designer to make your website look good, you just have to know their tricks. After you learn a few simple principles of design you’ll be able to look at websites across any industry and identify why they look good. It’s time to redesign your site to make sure you’re following these rules: less is more, bigger is better, and keep it simple.
Less Is More
Smart website design starts with harnessing the power of whitespace. Whitespace is blank, empty space in the design that lets the mind rest, rather than cramming multiple elements into the same space, making it looked cramped. Most desktops have moved to a giant-sized monitor, and while smartphone screens have also become larger, more whitespace allows elements on the page to compress, but still leave enough space to look good.
Whitespace and the principle of less is more can apply to every element on your website, from text, to photos, and even animations. Massive blocks of text not only detract from your design, but they’re also a waste of time for you to create. More than just a few lines of text and a user will skip over it entirely. Stay away from an assortment of photos if only one can do the job, and make sure you don’t overdo animation effects on elements. If every element on your homepage slides in and out, it will overwhelm users and make them click away from your page.
Bigger Is Better
The same less is more concept applies for photos, but not for the size. Look at any modern brand’s website and you’re sure to see big, beautiful photos that convey a lot of information without the need for more text. Instead of a smattering of images crowding your screen, using only one photo will better grab the attention of users, on both desktop and mobile.
The same goes for videos embedded into your website. A small thumbnail of a video doesn’t demand attention and squinting while watching a small video is just a bad user experience. Instead, leave enough space in your design to feature a video full-width, or close to it, so a user can be better sucked into your content and pushed through the funnel. Photos and video convert better than text or any other medium, so why not give them the room to work their magic?
Keep It Simple
Much like calling for less text and images, keeping the navigation of your website as simple as possible makes sure a user won’t be overwhelmed with your design. The more quickly a visitor can understand your entire site at a glance, the faster they’ll move through your sales funnel and the more likely they are to complete their purchase. Try to keep your navigation tabs at the top of your page to as few as possible, and make their names obvious.
A demand for simplicity should seep into every other design of your business as well, including your logo and your color choices. The simpler your logo, the more easily it can be recalled later in the mind of a user. When it comes to color choice, try to keep it down to two, and only use three if you absolutely must. Also, make sure that the colors complement each other by using a color wheel like Adobe Color. That way all of the colors of your website will help to give a pleasing look overall, rather than creating dissonance and causing a visitor to leave.
Why Design Matters
Aside from just looking better, smart design has powerful effects on customer engagement and your bottom line. When a customer lands on your website they’re going to judge your business based on the design, whether they’re aware of it or not. The better the design and functionality of your website, the more confidence it will inspire in a user, making them more likely to interact with your business.
Customer engagement is also important to promote repeat business, which can be much easier and cheaper to convert, compared to acquiring new customers. The more smoothly they can navigate through your website, enjoying the look and feel of your brand’s online presence, the more likely they are to return. If you can keep visitors returning to your website with a great user experience, converting them into loyal customers is going to be much simpler.
Making your website look better does more than just make you feel good about your business’ online presence, it helps your bottom line. The more well-designed your website, the more your customers will want to visit your website and be a part of your business. To make sure you’re on the right track with your new design, just remember that less is more, bigger is better, and keep it simple.
Before you start choosing colors or dragging and dropping, look at the websites of brands that you admire and try to figure out what it is you like about their site. Take note of their use of whitespace and their color coordination choices. What design principles did they use that will translate well on your website? When you’re ready to get started, sketch out your ideas on paper to make it easier to execute on your screen. Once you get your new website design live, sit back and watch your customer engagement climb.