It’s not enough to just have a website for your business. A website should be the visually striking, virtual, online representation of everything your business represents and strives for, from the “curb appeal” of your home page—usually the first thing visitors see—to the deeper product, service and content pages that provide the meat, or substance, behind the initial splash.
If it’s been awhile, take a renewed, objective look at your website, putting yourself in the shoes of the average visitor. If your site doesn’t convey your exact intended message within five or six seconds, it’s time for a critical overhaul. Otherwise, users will simply go elsewhere, instead of devoting time to figuring out what you’re trying to say.
Website Essentials for Your Business
By keeping in mind the following seven crucial web design factors, you can ensure your site not only offers the content-rich “steak” your visitors are seeking, but also the sizzle that drives conversions:
Strong Calls To Action
It’s not enough to just present compelling options and content on your website; you need a forceful call to action statement at the end of each piece of content, in order to convert visitors from lookers to doers. Don’t assume that visitors will know how to take the next step. Employ calls to action throughout the entire sales funnel, subtly leading them through each stage of the process. It seems simple (and maybe even kinda cheesy), but it does work. It’s better to be safe, than not selling.
Effective Color Schemes & Typography
You may not realize it, but your website’s color scheme can speak volumes about your business, even if it’s just setting a tone or feel of the site. Choose a color palette that is pleasing to the eye and accents both your logo and content images. Generally, you’ll be choosing between analogous (similar), complementary (opposing) and monochromatic (shades of the same tint) color schemes. You should also pay close attention to your choice of font/typography since this will again reflect the tone and purpose of the site. Generally speaking, sans-serif fonts (fonts that don’t use fancy strokes on the ends of character lines) are cleaner for web design, as are larger type sizes, at least 16px or more. Keep font usage relatively consistent, rather than using different fonts on each page.
The internet is gradually moving to a https-only standard, which is already having an impact on how your web page is displayed in some browsers. Google Chrome, specifically, is already displaying a message that reads, “Your connection to this site is not secure,” in the address bar of all pages without the https prefix. While it’s too soon for hard numbers, it’s likely that sites without updated https addresses are going to lose visitors, who may view the site as a potential security risk. Make sure all the necessary coding tweaks are made now, so you don’t have to worry later.
When used properly, the images on your site may speak volumes to viewers, proving more effective to communicate your brand, message and/or products and services than text-based content. Start by first ensuring that all site imagery conveys the intended message, then look for ways to make those visuals pop. One increasingly favored means is the use of “hero” images and banners: Large graphics that occupy most of the visible screen, over which text is sparingly superimposed. You can also achieve a similar effect with large background videos, which have the added bonus of communicating information faster than text. Yet another option is to borrow from Pinterest’s aesthetic and employ card-style graphics for multiple products, which can cleanly represent multiple choices on the same page. Large product images on sub-pages also quickly and effectively relay information to the viewer, even if guests don’t stop to read the accompanying text.
Quick Load Times
Wherever possible, stay away from elements that slow download times for your site. A clean, minimalist design will go a long way to this end while projecting a classy, contemporary look. Focus on using fewer images with greater effect (see “hero images” above), brief text, Pinterest-style “cards” and whittled-down menu options. You may also see speeds spike by switching to flat or semi-flat design, which removes unnecessary elements like background shading, moving away from a three-dimensional look. You can also just use shading where most helpful, for a semi-flat scheme that balances aspects of both approaches.
Ease Of Use/Navigation
Large, cluttered navigation bars and visible menus have gone the way of the dinosaur. For higher rates of conversion, go with a “hamburger menu,” for a cleaner and less distracting user experience. (It’s called a hamburger menu because the three horizontal lines look like a patty between two halves of a bun.) It’s also absolutely crucial to ensure your site uses responsive design to perform as desired on both desktop screens and mobile devices, especially since as much as 60% of internet access is now happening through mobile devices, with 34% of smartphone users mostly using their phone to access the web, rather than laptops or desktop computers. And as much as it may be in vogue to use hip design elements like ghost buttons (transparent buttons superimposed over an image), studies have shown they lead to a decline in conversions compared to solid-color buttons, which are easier to see on the page. Use ghost buttons sparingly, in places where they won’t get lost. And remember, when it comes to web design simpler is generally better.
It is going to be more important than ever to ensure your website is accessible for all people, including those that are blind or have poor vision, have hearing loss or deafness, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and any combination of these. Making sure your website has the right elements to make it easy to find the information about your business will be more imperative than ever as new guidelines are continuously being developed to make mobile, desktop and tablet versions of your site as usable as possible for everyone.
Is Your Website Missing Some of These Essential Features?
If your site is missing some of these key elements, now’s the time to take action! After all, an ineffective website could be causing you to lose valuable business and customers!
Wondering what a successful website looks like? Check out our web design portfolio for a look at designs that feature all of these website essentials and more!
Need an outside opinion on your website, and the experts to make the necessary changes? Contact Mannix Marketing, and we’ll get you back on track! Want to chat with us right away? Give us a call at 518-743-9424 and find out how we can help you update your website!