What is good web design? An executive summary.
Good web design is about getting the fundamentals right. Customers need to enjoy your website and find it useful and intuitive. But it also needs to work for you, to convert eyeballs into contacts, and do some selling for you!
Not all websites are created equally. Good ones are:
Or, if you need a handy acronym to remember it by, UUECRC. Just kidding, that’s a terrible acronym…
The success of your website design is determined by many factors such as search engine ranking, aesthetics and the overall user experience.
You should plan for these during the design stage and also make regular adjustments after the site is “live”. How you manage both phases is key to whether your site will yield the results you seek.
So what are the elements of a good website?
Useful web design
First and foremost, a good website is useful. In other words, it should allow the user to find what they are looking for, and to do the tasks they set out to.
To do this, you need to understand what goals your customer or ‘user’ has when they came looking your way. Then, the website has to facilitate the user to fulfil these.
For example, when looking for an accommodation provider, the user has a goal to secure accommodation at the time they need it. So, allowing people to see availability and book online through this kind of website is essential.
Likewise, people looking for a local physician really want to make an appointment, and customers wishing to find a gift will also want to purchase it… like, now before they get distracted by a bird and forget! And have it delivered promptly.
Websites need to be useful in order for them to generate sales or leads or both. Ask yourself – is my website useful? Aside from just telling people about your business, does it help them to get anything done?
Usable web design
Good websites are intuitive to use. As a great book by Steve Krug says: Don’t Make Me Think!
When designing your site it is important to consider your audience
- who are they (demographics, behaviours, etc)
- what they are looking for on your site?
- where they will be accessing your site (mobile, desktop) and so on
- how web-savvy are they?
This will inform your writing style, your navigation, the images you use, the layout and design of the website and what content will be included.
Here are some simple principles to guide good usability in your web design. People need to be able to:
- Work out quickly who you are and what you do at a glance at your homepage.
- Determine whether you look credible and the right fit for them (they do this in 50 milliseconds, by the way)
- Find the information they’re looking for without having to hunt and interpret ‘creative’ labels – call a spade a spade, or a maybe a shovel… but not a “dirt disrupter”
- Get around your website without feeling like they’re virtually wandering around in a rabbit warren. No more than 3 clicks is a decent rule of thumb.
- Generally, feel low cognitive load when they’re using your site trying to work out how to achieve their goals (i.e. it shouldn’t hurt their brain!)
If your business is a cafe, being mobile-friendly is important as it is very likely people will be searching for local cafes while they are in a specific location, using their phone.
The text has to be easily read on a small screen. Buttons need to be big for fat thumbs. Telephone numbers need to be tappable and the site needs to load fast. Check out some mobile usability guidelines here.
If you have an online store, your site should make it easy for the user to find the specific item they wish to buy among the many available on your site. This might mean clever filtering and search AND a nicely organised categorisation of products. In the biz, we call this ‘taxonomy‘ or ‘information architecture‘.
The purchase process should also be simple and predictable. If too many steps are involved, or there are aspects of the experience which are unexpected, you could end up with lots of abandoned carts.
Engaging web design
A great website creates a connection or an emotional response from the user.
Your website should have some form of a “hook” to invite your audience in and keep them interested. This could be achieved through photos, animation, language or a really unique design.
Having an engaging site also makes it more memorable. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, there is always a way to make your site more engaging.
Take a look at this example of how an in-flight products business have played on the idea of planes flying on the screen carrying their products, as a unique way of engaging their audience and leading to case studies: https://global-c.nl/. We designed, wrote copy and built that one by the way… 👏
One of the most important elements of a good website is that it is current.
Currency can be in the form of technology – such as being mobile-friendly – and the information it presents.
If your site was last updated in 2015, chances are the content could do with a refresh to show your audience that you are up to date, and still in business.
Moreover, Google also likes websites to be current. Those sites that are updated more regularly are seen to be more relevant than stale websites. This translates to higher search engine rankings, all other factors being equal.
Blogs are the easiest way to get fresh content onto your website. But they are a double-edged sword.
The most common examples of outdated websites we see are when the last blog post was published years ago. It’s the virtual equivalent of cobwebs on your front door…
If people are visiting your site for the first time having never done business with you before, having up to date blog posts shows them that you are still operating, and care enough about your business to keep your website up to date.
Make time, delegate it, or outsource it… just find a way to keep it fresh.
Ranking – Websites designed for high search ranks
A website that needs traffic from search engines is not a set and forget kind of deal. Web design needs to incorporate the fundamentals of search engine optimisation (SEO) which is an ongoing process.
When your site is nowhere in the search rankings for common phrases used to find businesses like yours, it’s like having a billboard in the middle of the desert. Who cares? Maybe the camels.
Good websites perform well in search engines such as Google – and to achieve this, you need to maintain your site regularly and ensure it’s created with search engine ranking in mind from the outset.
Designing your site navigation and information structure around the keywords that matter to your business is critical to success. Each cluster of search terms needs to have what’s known as a pillar page that Google can see is all about that keyword, and meets the users’ search intent.
When you create content, relevant keywords need to be used in the titles, content, metadata, etc.
Backlinks – when someone links to your website from theirs – make a huge difference to how credible your site looks to Google. So a web design that showcases your knowledge and content that helps people solve their problems are most likely to attract links organically.
Of course, links from social media profiles and reputable business directories are also beneficial.
To drive traffic to your website from search, you must show Google your site is worth ranking. Updating, adding and reworking your content continually helps. Generating backlinks and addressing technical deficiencies all improve your search engine rankings too. It’s not like opening the hood of your website and tinkering around with the settings and hey-presto! The site ranks!
It’s an ongoing process, and unfortunately, you can never just ‘tick it off DONE’.
Web design for conversion
Finally, good sites make it really easy for customers to sign up to a mailing list, download something, make a purchase or send a message to you. We call this ‘conversion’ and it’s often a critical component of making your digital advertising pay off.
Conversion Optimisation is the process of working out ways to get your site to turn more visits into collected email addresses.
The emails you collect create your contacts list, which you can then utilise to go forth and market to directly.
Designing your site with conversions in mind is all about making it super easy and clear what you want your visitor to do. With online ads, we typically create a “landing page” that is totally focussed on just one thing – converting customers who clicked the ad into leads for your business.
After all, that’s the whole point, is it not? So if your website is not giving you any business leads, it could be time to revisit it.
Let us know if you would like to chat about creating an awesome website that is UUECRC. We will give you extra points if you can work out how to pronounce it!
If you are interested in getting help with your web design, please check out our web design services!