Web design is the process of conceptualising, planning, and building websites. Although there is a common misconception that web design is purely focused on appearance, there’s so much more to it than that. As well as elements like colours, fonts and graphics, web design also involves determining the best structure and layout for user experience (UX) to create a website that is both aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly.
With users making snap decisions about whether to stay on a website or bounce immediately in just 0.05 seconds1, having a well-designed landing page is critical to success by ensuring the first impression your business makes will entice potential customers to explore your offering.
By reducing bounce rate while increasing time on page and pages per session, good web design also offers SEO benefits that will help your website appear at the top of organic search engine results. Therefore, not only is web design important for getting people to stay on your site, but also helps them to find it in the first place.
With web design, less is often more when it comes to colours. Our experts recommend using a small palette of complementary colours, usually no more than five, that fit your brand.
Carefully consider the size, colour, font style, number of fonts, line spacing and line length of the text on your site. For instance, bold colours can be used in moderation to draw attention to particular elements, such as your call-to-action (CTA), but can be jarring if used excessively. Similarly, heavily stylised fonts can add visual interest to the page but may reduce readability. There should always be a balance between the look and legibility of your written content.
Research shows that the design of a website has far more influence over first impressions than the actual content2. As such, you should put just as much thought into how your content is laid out as you put into what your content should be. Additionally, use responsive web design to ensure the layout of your website looks good across a range of devices and screen sizes.
Your logo should be big enough to clearly convey your brand identity without taking up an unnecessary amount of space. Best practice is to keep the logo where it should be, at the top of the page.
Although professional photography, videography and illustrations may seem costly, conveying your brand identity and product/service offering in the right way is invaluable. Try to avoid generic stock photography unless it is highly relevant to page content as this can hurt the perceived reputability of your business.
To ensure users can identify and focus their attention the most important content, use white space to keep your layout clutter-free and put key messages above the fold so that they can be seen before the user scrolls down.
One of the most common scanning patterns for copy-heavy web content is the F-shaped pattern, whereby users read horizontally across the upper content before moving down the page slightly and reading across again, then finally scanning the left-hand side of the page3. This can result in large chunks of potentially important information being missed, which isn’t ideal for users or businesses. To avoid this, avoid walls of unformatted text on your website. Instead, use clearly distinguished headings, different coloured backgrounds, emboldened text and different formatting for links to break up your content.
For simpler webpages that feature minimal copy and a few key elements, web design can be used to encourage users to scan content in a Z-shaped pattern, which is proven to be highly effective at driving results4. Identify which pieces of information you want users to notice and in which order, and then lay these out in the shape of the letter Z.
According to Think with Google, when page load time increases from one second to five seconds, the probability of users bouncing increases by 90%5. By following web design best practices like optimising images for web, you can make sure your website loads speedily to retain users’ attention.
When thinking about web design, it’s important to stop and ask yourself: “What is the purpose of my website?”. The answer is invariably to get users to take an action, whether that’s submitting an enquiry form, making a purchase, or signing up for a newsletter. As such, you should always prioritise your CTA by using colours with high contrast to the surrounding page, copy that creates a sense of urgency, and a placement which falls in the natural path that users will follow.
Once your website is live, you may think that your web design job is done; however, good web design doesn’t stop when the initial build is finished. Instead, test your site early and often to identify and resolve any bugs that arise before you lose potential customers or hurt your brand image. For this stage, try to use a fresh pair of eyes rather than the developer(s) who built the site.
If you want a website that’s guaranteed to have exceptional web design, get in touch with our digital creative team who can help with all your web design considerations to deliver the best results for your business.