Think of web users as window shoppers, walking down a crowded city street. They judge storefronts, window displays, signage, and maintenance, among other things. Well, these days with Internet access literally in the palm of our hands, your web site is the virtual storefront for your brand. Perhaps it’s time you consider renovating.
At the most basic level, your web site should communicate information quickly and easily to visitors, while conveying the values and aesthetic of your brand. The design elements of your web site, therefore, should work together to project the right image and create a positive user experience. This design process carries a great deal of complexity and detail, best handled by web design professionals.
Consider the following components when you’re thinking about the look of your web site, or online storefront — ‘tis almost the season, after all.
Put yourself in the shoes of a visitor to your web site. You want to be able to easily move around the site, back and forth through different sections, and it should be as intuitive as possible. Different design elements can help make your site easy to navigate: clear, well-designed headings; collapsing menus; a sub-nav menu; and tabs. For large, complex sites, the use of breadcrumbs and a site map help the user experience as well.
While it may seem obvious to prioritize your content on the layout of your web pages, there are many sites out there that don’t do this very well. Be sure that the most important information is at the top of the page, and that it stands out and grabs the eye. Try and keep the content that you consider to be a priority “above the fold”, so visitors don’t have to scroll to find the information they need. Moreover, visitors to your site should be able to identify your company, understand what you do, and locate the navigation menu for your site in a matter of seconds.
White space and spacing
Now that you’ve established the layout of your information, don’t overdo it. You don’t want to overcrowd the pages of your site; this will confuse and overwhelm your visitors. Use white space, meaning space that intentionally has been left empty, to balance the look of your site, and set the pacing for your visitor’s eye. But be careful — too much white space at the top can force important content downward, “below the fold”, which leads to higher viewer disengagement.
Make sure the fonts you choose are easy to read. We know there are tons of funky, quirky, unique fonts out there — we geek out over them, too — but unfortunately, many of them are not highly readable, especially on a monitor. If visitors to your site can’t easily read your content, they’re not going to remember it, let alone stay there for longer than 3 seconds. To that point, make sure the colors you’ve chosen for your text are readable as well. If text is hard to read, visitors will leave.
You should also make sure that you use larger font sizes for headings and subheadings throughout the pages of your site. This helps with readability for both visitors to your site and search engines. And pay attention to the line length of your text. If it’s too long, it becomes difficult for readers to slog through.
Bottom line when it comes to typography: choose function over fashion.
Make sure that the colors you have chosen for your site not only complement each other and your established branding, but also set the desired atmosphere you’re trying to exude. Certain colors evoke a traditional feel, while others seem more contemporary. Some color palettes work well in one industry, and not so well in another. Moreover, some colors make you feel calm, other colors energize you. Choose wisely.
Photography on your web site lends an engaging human element to your brand. High quality photography, in particular, has a big impact on the user experience. There is a delicate balance, however, between images and page download time — photos with large dimensions can impede the time it takes to load your web site, likely causing visitors to leave your site. On the other hand, photos shouldn’t be so small that your site looks amateur and viewers can’t see the details of the photos themselves.
In terms of selecting photos for your site, working with a professional photographer is ideal, but not necessarily feasible for everybody. Stock photography is a budget-friendly alternative that can still get the job done. Choose wisely, however, as many stock photos are generic and cheesy, and can convey an image that’s off-message from your brand.
A web site that reflects a thoughtful design process will not only make your visitors happy — it will make search engines happy, as well. Just like human visitors to your site, search engines care about your storefront, too. But that’s an SEO-related blog post that you can read here, if you’d like. Until then, feel free to give us a call to discuss any renovation plans you may have in mind.