Smart Tips to Make Your Website Design Engaging
What makes a good website? The answer depends on a host of factors, but the nature of today’s web user dictates one overarching guideline: It absolutely must provide an outstanding, intuitive user experience.
Think seamless and consistent; NEVER confusing or frustrating. Characteristics of a positive user experience include:
- Easy navigation that’s simple, consistent and clear. Users should be able to reach their goal in as few clicks as possible.
- Easy-to-consume content organized with visual hierarchy in mind :
- Prioritize the most important content so that the user will see it first.
- Use short chunks of copy interspersed with subheads.
- Screen size – Stick to a one-column, simple layout that scrolls up and down (versus left to right) with important content at the top.
- User interface – Add “finger-clickable” features to your website; include a link to your homepage so your audience can access your full site.
- Graphics – Reduce the number and size of graphics. The more graphics you have on your mobile website or landing page, the longer it will take to load; remember, slow loading loses visitors.
- Animation – Designers should limit the amount of animation on their site in order to reduce extensive download time and distraction for the user. That being said, JQuery is great for visual engagement and is more compatible than Flash for mobile.
- Forms – Make forms easy to complete with a minimal number of fields. Have a well-sized, prominent submit graphic rather than small text.
- Visual cues that give users feedback. This includes a link turning a different color once clicked, loading animations that assure users the page they want will appear in seconds, and other visual cues that reduce the user’s cognitive load.
- “Click targets” that are big enough to easily click (or tap) accurately – especially important for menus and other link lists, where users could accidentally click or tap the wrong link.
- Common elements that adhere to standards. Don’t veer from standards for elements that users have already established expectations regarding function, such as window messaging, menu bars and scrolling, radio buttons, checklists. In other words, don’t try to revamp a familiar interaction in the name of creativity.
- Avoid top turnoffs – this goes hand in hand with the previous point:
- Scroll-jacking (manipulating the scroll bar to function differently than the expected up/down movement).
- Long loading time (While some reasons for long loading time are related to server and coding issues, designers can scale image files appropriately, avoid animation, and reduce the number of elements on a page to speed load time).
- Auto play content (music or other audio that plays outside the user’s control).
- Broken links.
- Hard-to-read font or text laid out on a busy background.
Looks matter too, of course. Make the site visually appealing:
- White space – don’t fill every possible space with text or images. Use white space to achieve the clean, uncluttered look essential to modern web design.
- Grid layout – working on a grid ensures that all elements on your webpage will be aligned properly. It’s also paramount for mobile optimization.
- Fonts – use no more than three different fonts. One for headers, one for content and one for CTAs is enough, and if brand style dictates using just one font, change point size and weight to make headers and CTAs stand out.
- Avoid stock photos. They make a site seem generic.
- Choose colors wisely. Websites should have a cohesive color scheme that complements the brand or product they’re supporting.
Want more tips on marketing and design best practices? Strata Company, a Greater Philadelphia area marketing services and technology firm, specializes in creative multichannel approaches that drive lead generation and conversion. Sign up to receive emails with the latest marketing insight and resources, or contact us directly to start a conversation today.
About Courtney Bowman
As Art Director for Strata Company, Courtney Bowman possesses a strong eye for design that engages and inspires. From email to mailers and infographics to websites (like our brand new one!) she’s always working on design that both catches the eye and generates response. Outside the office, Courtney serves as an agent for her father, a talented local artist.