On the surface, web design is about making a website look good, and anyone who says that would be right. After all, beautifully designed sites do get a lot of attention, and people who stumble onto them tend to spend more time within their pages to take in every pixel of visual brilliance web designers put into their work.
To say that that is what web design is all about, however, would be an entirely different story. Looking good may be a must for a website, but so is being easy to use, engaging and successful in communicating whatever it’s selling — be it a product, a service or an advocacy.
Coming up with a web design that works on various levels takes more than just an eye and a flair for aesthetics. Here are four tips that can help your web design be as effective as you can make it.
1. Keep users in mind.
Websites are created for their users, so it’s only right for web designers to think about them when working on one. After all, a website’s users or visitors are its target audience, and that’s why you should always consider their needs if you want your web design to be effective.
Whatever they’re looking for, a website must be able to provide it in the fastest time possible, whether it’s information about your product or service or simply entertainment through your content. The whole website must be easy to use and navigate — if the opposite is true, whatever visitor you get will readily bounce off to another site.
2. Use the right tools.
Sure, you’re probably using Photoshop already, but there are many other tools — some of them free — out there that can prove to be quite useful in your mission to create an effective web design.
Type Genius, for example, can help you visualize how a specific combination of fonts would look like on the site you’re developing. Working on a logo to display prominently on the site? You can run your logo through Logo Lab, which will test it for balance and scalability and even offer up suggestions on how you can improve it. And when you finally have a prototype design, use Maze to analyze its performance and get insights from actual users as well.
3. Don’t forget about white space.
Some people think that white space as it pertains to web design is nothing more than “empty” space. The word implies uselessness, and white space is anything but useless.
White space, which is also referred to as “negative” space, may indeed appear like empty space, but it actually plays a crucial role in providing great user experience. That white space between paragraphs, sections and visuals is an essential element of web design, as it keeps a page from looking cluttered, which is what it would be if text or graphics are crammed into it with little to no white space. The content will be difficult to read, which will naturally chase visitors away.
4. Don’t let trends dictate your web design.
There was a time when stock photos were all the rage in web design. For years, it became somewhat of an unwritten rule among web designers to load pages they were working on with stock photography, believing images of impeccably dressed men and women flashing unbelievably perfect smiles while pretending to be in the middle of a corporate huddle are naturally appealing.
They may have been at first, but pretty soon, their inauthenticity started leaping off the page, turning people off enough to make them exit the site immediately.
The widespread use of stock photography is one example of a web design trend that a web designer must never subscribe to in any way. Just think of the sites that were created that had stock images all over them, and how they must be doing now that the ship that brought that trend has already sailed.
Web design trends come and go, and it’s entirely up to you if you want your business website to ride them. Just don’t forget that they could be hot one day and gone the next.
The tips above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to effective web design, but they’re a good place to start. Apply them to your web design, provide users with an excellent browsing experience and see your business eventually benefit from it.