By August 02, 2022

7 design rules that will improve your website (and your revenue)

Top webdesign fundamentals for non-designers
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According to research, 48% of users believe that website design is the #1 factor when judging a business’s credibility. But what exactly is good web design? When it comes to term design many may associate it with eye-catching colors and fancy lettering. And that’s correct. Partially. In fact, aesthetics are important in building a professional and attractive brand and business. However, visuals are only a tip of a web design iceberg.

The Internet brings limitless possibilities, but it’s also a very competitive space. When it comes to website design, usability aspects are crucial. If an e-commerce business delivers a poor user experience or performs slowly, one will most definitely search for another online shop. In most cases, aesthetics are just a cherry on top. Beautiful visuals can enhance the overall experience but won’t make an unusable website work.

In this article you will learn 7 web design fundamentals for non-designers, and why you may want to consider redesigning your website.

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1. Ask your audience (and yourself)

At the end of the day, websites are tools. They are meant to get a certain job done. For a website (and business, as a consequence) to be successful, it’s important to make this tool as effective as possible.

The first step that puts foundations to every project is always research. In simple words - ask questions. Get in front of your users. Ask them about their goals, needs, and pain points. If you already own a functioning product, investigate how your users feel about it and use it. Think, about how you can improve your product based on the feedback.

Next, reconsider your own business. What does your tool need to do? Is it just generating profit? Maybe you want to create a specific image or deliver brand recognition to a new audience.

Remember, that you are not the end-user. The key to success is to reconcile your business goals with the goals of your target audience. The easiest way to do this is to ask the right questions to the right people. You might be surprised by the answers and end results.

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel

The Internet is an enormous ecosystem. With over 1,8 billion websites and over 50 years of existence, It’s natural that some standards needed to be developed. In most cases, it’s best to derive from these standards.

Let’s get the most obvious things out of the way first. Users usually search for the main navigation at the top. The upper area usually carries the main brand message. The lower down the page, the less it’s possible that the user will even reach this content. Footer, is always at the and should consist of all extra information and so on. Be sure that navigation and crucial features for your business are easy to find. Elements such as buttons should be easy to distinguish and indeed look like buttons. This might be just common sense, but it has to be pointed out nonetheless.

Don’t be afraid of being unoriginal. When it comes to functionality, It’s usually best to stick with well-known standards. Breaking fundamental conventions may bring fatal results for your website. There are a lot of better ways to differentiate your company from the competition. For example, designers can experiment with imagery or a color palette that’s unique to your brand. Just don’t reinvent the wheel, unless you know what you’re doing.

3. Don’t make me think

It’s not a coincidence that one of the most essential books about web design is called “Don’t make me think”. This is what most people would describe as an intuitive design. But when it comes to design you don’t want to base your decision on intuition. We should assume that internet users are lazy. And it’s nothing bad, that’s just the way the modern web works. Every time we force users to solve any kind of task it weakens the experience. In the case of e-commerce for example it might dramatically lower the conversion rate.

Firstly, your website should very clearly communicate to the user. Basic information about business should be recognizable at the first glance. Everyone who lands on the website for the first time should instantly be certain of what this company provides, and what can be done here.

Things like correct content hierarchy and grouping of elements, meaningful headers are essential for legibility. Call-to-action buttons should convey a clear and encouraging message. Users should be certain of what will happen when they eventually take an action. Iconography should be recognizable at the first glance. For the most important symbols, like cart in the e-commerce world, you may also consider adding text captions.

4. Be minimalistic (but not ascetic)

Sometimes everyone is tempted to add just one more thing. However, in the case of design, usually less is more. In web design, this usually means that if you really don’t have a good reason to add something, you will be better off without it.

Why? Firstly, we live in an age of overstimulation with data, and user attention is really limited. For this reason, make sure that every piece of content on your website is really meaningful and worth your target user's precious time.

Secondly, following Murphy’s law “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. The more features there are the more opportunities for technical failures. The more complex the website structure is the more risk of the user getting lost. The more options to choose, the more possible it is that the user will get overwhelmed and dismiss taking action completely. Make sure that all things on your website bring you benefits.

At the end of the day, it’s all focusing on quality and not quantity.

5. Fine feathers make fine birds

Finally - visuals. As mentioned earlier, aesthetics are just a part of web design. Nonetheless, visuals are still very important for a successful website.

Even if you are not the most aesthetic-driven individual, consider a more business-oriented perspective. According to research, 94% of online shoppers don’t trust outdated or poorly designed websites.

For this reason alone, you need to make sure that your website looks professional. This doesn’t mean that it needs to be featured in art galleries and design magazines to be successful. Make sure that the overall look and feel are up to date. Check if, the content is legible, images are high quality, and everything is fairly consistent. At the end of the day, it’s not high art, in most cases. In fact, it even shouldn’t be. Remember that good design is all about what looks pleasing but more importantly, does its job.

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6. What’s under the hood is equally important

Interface design is literally useless, without the developer’s work. The way that design is implemented influences user experience immensely. There are just a few selected examples of things to keep in mind when implementing a website design.

Responsiveness - in modern times it’s a standard to browse the web on devices of various sizes. Most users expect companies to have a mobile-ready website. Your website should be equally functional on every screen size.

Performance - design statistics show that 47% of users expect a web page to load in two seconds. In today’s digital space everything moves extra fast. If you make life difficult for your users, they will most probably search for an easier solution.

Accessibility - make sure that your website is equally useful for people with disabilities. It’s just the right thing to do. However, if ethics don’t persuade you enough, here’s a business perspective. Just consider that population is getting older in general. Being disabled doesn’t always mean having a severe medical condition. Poor eyesight is also considered a disability. Neglecting the growing percentage of the population with disabilities from your target group it’s probably not the best business move.

7. Analyze, improve, repeat

In most cases, the design process doesn’t end after the launch. The website is a living organism and needs to be adjusted. Even the best initial design can’t foresee everything. That’s why it’s important to track users’ behavior. Based on further research, it can be investigated, what works and what needs to be improved. To complex things, even more, user habits, technology, and trends constantly change. To keep your website relevant, the design process basically never really ends.

Conclusion

In most cases, the design process doesn’t end after the launch. The website is a living organism and needs to be adjusted. Even the best initial design can’t foresee everything. That’s why it’s important to track users’ behavior. Based on further research, it can be investigated, what works and what needs to be improved. To complex things, even more, user habits, technology, and trends constantly change. To keep your website relevant, the design process basically never really ends.

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