Before the age of the Internet, brands made their first impressions on customers through their product packaging or their brick-and-mortar storefronts. However, with the rise of e-commerce and the accessibility of information, websites have become the central hub for visitor contact and influence. To make a good first impression, strategically structure your web design to affect all aspects of your business including search engine optimization, conversion rates and user engagement.
WHY IS GOOD WEB DESIGN IMPORTANT?
Just like the appearance of physical stores can create trust or mistrust, websites will have that same impact on your audience. In a 2004 study titled Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites, researchers found that users rejected or mistrusted a website because of design-related elements 15 times more than content-related elements.
What about these web designs repelled visitors? Several components were mentioned:
- Complex, busy layout
- Lack of navigation aids
- Boring design, lack of color
- Small print
- Too much text
Although only 6% of complaints accrued were related to the site’s content, the quality of the information you put on your website is still extremely important. Good web design allows uncluttered engagement with your content, which in turn converts strangers into raving fans.
HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE GOOD WEBSITE DESIGN?
A well-labeled navigation menu or sidebar is essential, especially on websites with multiple pages and subpages. Users can easily explore your website and understand your company’s products and services when the website navigation is developed well. When first designing the navigation menu, steer clear of fancy typefaces. Instead, try designing it with a simple and intuitive layout that draws users in.
CONTENT AND VISUAL ELEMENTS
Like we said before, good design allows the reader to focus on your outstanding content. Visual elements in your design can include anything from your font choice to page structure. Strong selections in each of these categories will deliver an accurate message to the audience, who are more likely to remember the content than the distracting web design.
It’s important to not overdo these elements, which will make your website look messy and in turn affect conversion rates. The visually cluttered pages will be difficult to read, causing visitors to become disinterested and unlikely to return. To avoid this, create concise content that can be easily incorporated into the web design. Pages that are heavy with text should have more white space so that users’ eyes can rest while they’re reading.
It’s very important for your target market to recognize your brand in every medium you use. Whether it’s your logo, print advertisements or web design, create a consistent brand so that your customers aren’t confused. Brands emanate a company’s message, and a slight change in visual communication could throw off your audience and conversion results.
Engagement with a website begins with the eyes. If your web design is off-putting, visitors will immediately leave your site. Web pages with an exceptional layout not only keep users on your site, but encourage them to engage with the site. The use of interactive, inviting materials such as graphics and videos are assured ways to keep users on your site longer.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
When trying to plan for search engine optimization (SEO) in your web design, you have to think long-term. Climbing on board with the latest design trend may not be best for your company’s clicks and rankings. Your business’s online presence will last much longer than these trends that constantly come and go, so be wary of new tendencies in the web design world. However, you don’t want to be completely blind to current styles.
A recent trend in web design is the parallax design (here’s an example), a single web page that scrolls for almost forever. Site visitors like this design because all the relevant content is in one place, and site owners prefer it because it keeps users engaged. But don’t count on search engines to be a fan of parallax. While the one web page is telling the entire story, it fails to employ subpages. Subpages are very important to a site’s SEO: they create another page for search engines to index and, most importantly, host keywords that should be spread over the entire website. While removing the traditional structure of a website might excite users today, it could have negative consequences in the future.
Search engines are praising responsive web design, though. As the mobile platform is taking over internet search, search engines are rewarding businesses that implement responsive web design. Not only does it reduce the risk of having duplicate content on multiple websites, but it’s also proven to lower bounce rates. While these are only two examples of how web design can affect SEO, every design feature has the potential to influence your search rankings.
DOES GOOD WEBSITE DESIGN DIRECTLY IMPACT CONVERSION RATES?
According to a Stanford University study, 46% of users say web design is the top criteria for deciding if a business is credible or not. Make sure your site’s design is professional in order to keep those users on your page. The longer visitors trust (and spend time on) your site, the more likely they are to return and make a conversion with your company.