5 Web Design Tips to Win Over Viewers
One of the most important assets to a business is their website. It was only 15 years ago when consumers were turning the yellow pages to find information, products, and services. That is no longer the case. Now, without hesitation, you and I will turn to the internet to do a quick search.
Unfortunately when searching for something on the internet you don't always find what you're looking for right away. It usually takes a few minutes and a couple of visited sites – sometimes more, sometimes less – until you finally feel like you've found it.
So what happens in-between: the moment you type in the Google search bar until the moment you reach your destination? A lot! Within milliseconds you make judgment calls, prejudices towards the various websites that came in-between you and your destination. You probably opened at least 4 - 5 sites and gave them less than 10 seconds before giving them the "X." It's okay; you're not a bad person. The human mind does this autonomously with everything and anything all day long. In the case of websites, research shows that conclusions can be made within 1/20th of a second! An impression is made immediately whether it's outdated, untrustworthy, confusing, obsolete or just plain tacky. These reactions allow the user to quickly conclude "there's something better out there" and on they go.
The Difference of a Good Designer
This is where good design comes in. A good designer has studied the principles of visual design, human-computer interaction, the gestalt principles, and the process of perception. They would not only have a keen awareness that this split-second impression occurs but why and how it occurs. So how do you appease this unconscious behavior? You have to work with the mind (think milliseconds); you have to help it interpret what's in front of it. There are many considerations that can assist the mind in this interpreting phase but I have narrowed it down to these five.
The 5 Web Design Tips to Win Over Viewers:
Hire a professional photographer or spend a decent chunk of time choosing some creditable-looking stock photography. I would like to say it is possible to get away with using only your own photos but 99% of the time it's just not. This is one of those things that everyone believes that they can handle themselves but more than likely you're no Ansel Adams. If you want to take your site to the next level of professionalism have some photography shot of the building, work in progress, employees, products, services, customers, etc., etc.
4) Reorganizing & Formulating Hierarchy
Before starting the design process, you have to make some decisions with your site map and in your copy. You have to take in consideration the unfamiliar user. What do you want him or her to see and do the most? I can't stress this enough, remember the saying here LESS IS MORE! Nobody likes the feeling of being overwhelmed, figure out how to say who you are and what you can offer the user in a clear and concise way (edit, trim, delete). Once the planning and preparations are in order you're ready to group the elements with similar functions and purposes and decide what needs to be heard the loudest. Formulating hierarchy is a very important step in the design process. This is where you draw attention to that which matters most, and then anticipate the natural path ones eye may take through the layout. The use of contrast, color, and or scale can assist in this facet.
3) Balance & Alignment
Designing the layout of the site on an underlining grid system helps to establish a sense of balance and purpose. Using a fixed 2 or 3 column setup allows you to align multiple elements of the layout on particular lines. This will give your website a nice structured and consistent look that can be trusted and related to professionalism (always a good thing in business, huh?).
2) Consistency is key.
The obvious one here is that all navigational (including sub nav) items should stay put in the exact same place from page to page. But on top of that, you want to be consistent in the placement of other page elements as well, like the number of columns, ad placements, headers and footers, and maybe even in your call to action. Be sure to limit the number of fonts used and be consistent in your headings (H1's, H2's, etc.) and body text in font, color, and size. If you get creative and come up with a cool photo treatment – run with it: it will help to unite the entire site and bring another commonality to the whole. I look at it like this: consistency develops a sense of familiarity and familiarity is closely associated with trust.
And the #1 web design tip is…
1) The Color Scheme
One last design element that could have been added to #2 but is important enough to designate its own is a color scheme. There are a few design elements that directly contribute to the overall feeling of your website, but perhaps none more than the color scheme. For an example if you're designing a construction company's website you more than likely won't be choosing a pastel palette. Before starting the project you will want to have between 2-6 colors picked out (that's it). Throughout the entire design process you will turn to those 2-6 color only. There are a number of good sites to assist you in choosing the scheme: colorcombos.com and colorschemedesigner.com are a couple useful sites. Keep in mind that the one or two colors from the logo will obviously have to designate the one or two spots in your scheme.
So, take a breath.
Think about anyone of those things listed above in itself: a grid, organization, hierarchy, consistency, balance – these are all relatives of logic. When considering the way one's mind works (especially in terms of milliseconds) it only makes sense that the mind would admire such considerations. You're making it easy for the mind to perceive, process, and understand the information.
Follow these 5 tips in your website design, and watch your designs improve and your website stats increase.