By understanding and implementing the key elements of website design, you can build user-friendly websites that drive audiences towards your desired objectives.
With 1.75 billion websites currently live around the world, audiences have an overwhelming amount of content at their fingertips. For someone to visit your website at all is an achievement, but it won’t be a success unless and until their customer experience achieves a measurable outcome.
So which elements of website design can help you ensure unique site visitors enjoy a rewarding experience that also justifies the site’s existence from your perspective?
Below, we look at three elements of website design that will ensure customers enjoy their experience—and that you reap the rewards of their visit. Despite some natural overlap between these elements, we’ve broken them down into separate topics complete with specific examples.
There are a lot of elements of website design that influence a site’s search engine optimization (SEO). Some are widely understood, like effective keyword use, whereas page loading times are a key metric many people overlook when it comes to SEO—and that’s a big mistake.
Loading times are adversely affected by bloat: irrelevant sub-pages, images that haven’t been compressed, or video clips that are hosted on-page rather than embedded from third-party hosts like YouTube. Media files should never automatically play, and plugins should only be installed if the features they provide (image compression, lazy loading) clearly improve the user experience (UX). Strip out external links that might lead people off-site, and weed out internal dead links, as they damage SEO.
Favor functionality over fluff
Customers don’t want to wade through a thousand words of fluff to find your delivery policy. They want it front and center on product information pages, or neatly summarized on an FAQ page—which also provides a great SEO boost. Audiences expect instant notification that a transaction has completed without being bounced off-site to a third-party payment platform; external redirects complicate the checkout process and they’re notoriously unreliable. Although site design should be as original as possible, there’s nothing wrong with mirroring the checkout functionality of successful ecommerce platforms.
There’s a bit of overlap between minimalism and clarity, but making a website clear involves more than simply stripping out non-essential content to reduce page loading times. A clear website provides a straightforward and dependable customer experience—we expanded on this in a recent blog on how to improve the UX of proprietary software. The majority of web traffic now displays on mobile, so ensure your site is responsive with comparable aesthetics and functionality across any desktop or mobile browser. Common display issues on small screens include obscured text, misaligned images, and overlapping menu elements.
Make everything crystal clear
Give individual pages unambiguous names (“About Us” rather than “My Journey,” for example) and clarify what each page does in the menu headings. Encourage on-site exploration by ensuring every page is a single click away at all times. Provide image captions and meta descriptions that drill down to the essence of what’s being discussed. And speaking of images, take your own shots with an SLR camera or high-end smartphone if possible, since they’ll inevitably be more relevant than copyright-free photos sourced from platforms like Pexels.
3. An overarching objective
The third priority in effective website design is to ensure each page steers people toward a destination. For ecommerce platforms, the overarching objective is usually to complete a purchase. The homepage should include headline offers, whereas the “About Us” page ought to build consumer trust. Always ensure there’s a clearly defined path to follow on-site; native ad retargeting should focus on displaying items in baskets which haven’t been checked out. Similarly, social media posts describing specific products need to link to the exact pages where customers can buy them, rather than just the homepage.
Streamline and simplify
Streamline online checkout functionality as far as possible. Let people make purchases as guests, only providing payment details and essential contact data. Once they’ve completed their transaction, encourage them to register an account or sign up for emails. Even then, keep registration forms linear—someone’s date of birth isn’t relevant for signing up to receive marketing emails.
Turn knowledge into power
Armed with these insights, take a few minutes to consider your current online presence. Ask friends to explore your website(s), and act on any feedback they might have about design and functionality. And if there’s any room for improvement, the Belighted team is standing by to help—click here for a 20-minute product development consultation today.