The Most Important Elements of Web Design
Did you know that it only takes 0.005 seconds for visitors to form an opinion about your website? That's hard to believe, right? In other words, users only need a split second to decide whether they should stick around on your website or head over to one of your competitors.
So, how can you persuade them to remain on your site?
That's through your website's design. 94% of first impressions of a website are design-related. No matter how great your content may be, users will not bat an eye at it if your website's design isn't on point. And that's a matter of nailing down the basics.
That said, let's take a look at a few crucial elements your website needs to have.
1. White Space
White space gives your website some breathing room. Although it may not seem like much, using white space effectively can make a significant difference in your site's overall design.
You wouldn't want to have images, buttons, or paragraphs look like they're glued together. Users will get the impression that your website is too cluttered, and they won't be able to tell your content apart.
Consequently, they'll probably click away within a heartbeat. That said, make sure to put some space between your website's design elements.
This will not only give your web pages a clean and organized look, but you can also use white space to emphasize the importance of a specific piece of content. This will help to draw the users' attention to where it's needed.
Navigation can either make or break your website. After all, this is one design element that encourages users to explore your website and hopefully get them to convert.
That's why your website's navigation has to be on-point. This doesn't mean you should get creative with it, though. Remember, it only takes a fraction of a second for users to decide whether to continue browsing on your site or go somewhere else. That said, your goal is to get users familiar with your website right away.
We've talked with a few experts from a web design company in Miami, and they said that it's best to stick to standard layouts. Place the navigation bar at the top of the page and other elements in the sidebar, like the categories list or the search box.
Also, include navigation links within your web page's footer. If a user scrolled down to the bottom of the page, it generally means that he's interested in your website and likely wants to find out more about you.
So placing navigation links in the footer that lead to a "Contact Us" or "About Us" page might be a good idea.
Or, if you've opted for a one-page design, make sure to include directional arrows. This helps users get to the section they're interested in faster. A sticky "Back to Top" button might also come in handy.
3. Mobile-Friendly Design
Mobile devices generate 54.8% of all web traffic. Because of this, Google prioritizes mobile-friendliness when ranking websites on the search engine results page. That's not all, though. As new technologies are popping up, Google constantly adjusts its algorithms to enhance the users' browsing experience.
According to the latest Core Web Vitals update, user experience has a bigger influence on a website's rankings. In other words, going mobile-friendly is a necessity, rather than just a recommendation. To do so, you've got three options available: responsive, adaptive, or mobile-first designs.
Responsive design might be the most viable option. That's because it's cost-effective and it ensures a consistent user experience across all types of devices.
With responsive design, your website will automatically adjust to various screen sizes. This way, your website will look great regardless of the device used to view it.
4. Color Scheme
The color scheme plays a major role in influencing users' opinions on your website, and that's because different colors evoke different emotions. The colors you use throughout your website need to correlate with your industry and brand and match visitors' expectations.
For example, banks and lawyers typically stick to a blue and gray color palette, which evokes trust and security. In contrast, some fashion stores may use black and white to suggest elegance and sophistication.
In other words, when choosing a color scheme, think about how you want to come across to your target audience, then use the suitable colors to make that impression.
Speaking of colors, you've got to pick the font styles to match. Otherwise, your website's overall design will come across as off-putting.
Furthermore, the fonts you choose will also bring up certain emotions. If you used a blue and gray color palette to appear trustworthy but picked playful fonts, like Bradley Hand, your messaging will become inconsistent.
Instead, you should use fonts like Times New Roman, or Georgia, as they instill confidence, respectability, and reliability. The fonts you've picked should be around 16 pixels in size in terms of the body copy. This makes the text easy to read and not be too intrusive as well.
You can also use multiple fonts. But, it's recommended to use up to two or three fonts at the most. This way, you'll get to add a little diversity to your design without interrupting the message you're trying to convey.
6. Effective Call-to-Action Buttons
The primary purpose of most websites is to get users to convert. Whether you want visitors to purchase a product, sign-up for your newsletter, or download your ebook, you'll need to motivate them to do it.
That's where Call-to-Action buttons (CTAs) come in. They need to be bold, clear, and to stand out. In terms of their design, consider using contrasting colors. This will make the CTAs pop out from the rest of the page. Making them around 20% larger than your logo should also make them more visible.
Their copy needs to be straightforward and compel users to take action. For example, "Sign Up for Free," "Download Your Free Ebook," or "Get the Discount" could work out well.
7. Visual Hierarchy
Visual hierarchy focuses on arranging website elements based on their importance and influences the order in which visitors see them.
By using techniques like contrast or scale, you can make some aspects of a website appear more important than others. Thus, visitors will look at them first once they first enter the webpage.
When establishing a visual hierarchy, keep in mind that the users' eyes follow a certain pattern. More specifically, visitors will likely scan your website in an F-shaped or Z-shaped pattern. That said, the content you want to highlight should coincide with that pattern.
Images are another critical element of web design. For starters, imagery enhances the look of the website. Without it, your website would look dull, and users will likely click away as a result.
Secondly, 65% of the global population consists of visual learners. This means that most of us retain information better by seeing it. What's more, people retain 80% of the information they see but only retain 20% of the information they read.
In other words, your message will be more powerful if it's conveyed via an image rather than text. Lastly, images are more convenient. People will most likely prefer looking at a photo to reading through a few paragraphs of text.
That said, images will not only make your website look better, but they also allow for a more powerful message and attract more attention to particular areas of a webpage. But that doesn't mean you should include stock photos wherever you can. They often come across as monotonous and irrelevant. Thus, users will probably ignore them.
Instead, you should pick attractive images, complement your content and relate to your brand. Also, consider using photos that contain human faces, as they're better at attracting the visitors' attention.
In web design, first impressions are everything. Users will only take a split second to decide whether they should stick around or go over to one of your competitors. That's why getting the basics right is crucial.
Above all else, make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices. Then, make good use of white space to give your site some breathing room. Also, make sure that your navigation is intuitive, as that's likely one of the first things visitors will look at when entering your website.
After that, you can take care of all of the other elements we've discussed in the article.
Ellie Northcott is a long-time marketer, currently working as a freelancer in Miami, Florida. Editor at Digital Strategy One.
She is also a passionate writer and loves to explore new, innovative and digital news. In her spare time, she is an eco-activist.