Article

Madelyn Wilson
Madelyn Wilson 3 November 2021

8 Essential Elements for Great Website Design

A final website design can take many forms. How you present yourself or your brand should always remain unique to you. But, from a theoretical perspective, here are 8 essential elements for great website design as they relate to user experience, conversions and brand impact.

Harness these design principles in your next update to improve the journey for all your website visitors.

1. White Space

According to Segue Tech, “whitespace is THE fundamental building block of good design. When designers talk about whitespace, they actually mean negative space, the space between elements in a composition. It is the portion of the page left unmarked; the space between graphics, margins and gutters. It is the space between columns, between lines of type or figures that provides visual breathing room for the eye.”

Without white space, all your other elements merge together visually and they have less impact as a result. Leaving room (it doesn’t ACTUALLY have to be white) allows your visitors to scan your website more quickly to get to the content they want. Plus it can also help your call to action elements stand out even more.

2. Simple Navigation

Don’t try to be clever with your menus and buttons. Website visitors usually have a purpose for their time on your page. And if you make it hard for them to find what they are looking for then you’ll lose conversions and increase your bounce rates (hurting SEO).

The majority of people on your website will expect to find your menu at the top - fully displayed or collapsed into an accordion. Put it there and leave it there. You can easily see if the navigation is simple for customers to use by engaging in UX testing.

3. Compelling Copy

What you say matters. According to DIW, “A recent study found that the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 (or around the time smartphones hit the scene) to eight seconds today.” So you have just a few seconds to make your pitch, to drive interest or to inform. Every single word has weight and value. So ensure you streamline your copy to only the most compelling points and you format it well.

Use H1, H2 and H3 headers, lists and callouts to improve readability and conversions. Then test, test and test again. Pit page versus page to see what words drive action.

4. Contact Information

Make it easy for visitors to find you. Think about all the reasons why someone would want to contact you or your business. Are they in search of directions? Embed a map. Do they need customer support? Provide a quick link. If your goal is great customer service, allow the design to support that.

Include every relevant channel from social media to sales lines for a seamless contact experience. And don’t forget about disruptive contact too. You don’t need to wait for them to reach out. Anticipate their requirements with webchat prompts to improve your sales conversions and Net Promoter scores.

5. Purchase Methods

Once your visitors are totally sold on your concept - let them buy. While it is rare to see websites without an integrated payment processing function, they do exist. Don’t cheat yourself or your business out of a sale by placing barriers to conversion.

When you create a website design brief, include a SaaS-provided payment or ecommerce platform and customise it to your product or service. That will allow you to begin collecting sales faster than a bespoke solution. Remember to link this system to your CRM and email marketing platforms for efficient remarketing and loyalty outreach too.

6. Button Styles

According to Lambda Test, “85% of adults expect a company’s website to be as good or better than its desktop website when viewed on a mobile device? While 57% of internet users say, they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile. And not just that search engines like Google [favour] mobile-optimized websites as well.” But one of the most overlooked elements of mobile-first design is buttons.

Some button styles don’t translate from desktop to mobile. This might be because they’re too small, have poor click/tap surface area within the button itself or simply don’t render where they are supposed to within the design. So when optimising your design for mobile, ensure the buttons all work, stand out clearly and are simple to find. This will provide a better touchscreen user experience.

7. Quality Imagery

According to Google themselves, “High-quality photos appeal to users more than blurry, unclear images. Also, sharp images are more appealing to users in the [resulting] thumbnail and increase the likelihood of getting traffic from users.”

So, when designing your website, it’s important to remember that original, high-resolution photos are ideal. These should come enriched with alt text and descriptive file names too. Place them next to relevant copy and they will perform better for rankings than some blurry old stock image. And for photos like product images, you can improve search results for potential customers by including structured data too.

8. Memorable Fonts

Most branding newcomers think only about the colours and logos on a website. But fonts play a critical role in communicating brand values to the website visitor. A core component of all CSS, fonts are essential elements for a great website design from a branding perspective.

Medium states, “The most important thing to consider when working with fonts is how readable it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s the coolest looking thing in the world if people have a hard time reading it. Don’t make people work to read what you’re writing. The whole point of writing is to communicate. Make sure you’re communicating clearly.”

Following that, think about how this font can further reinforce the brand tone by communicating feelings of boldness, playfulness, formality and more.

Summary

These 8 essential elements for great website design aren’t rules, they’re best practice guidelines based on decades of precedence. By following standard design schools of thought, you can better manage the risk of launching a new website. Design conventions allow you to create an effective, appealing and high-converting website from day one. And where you go from there is totally up to you.

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