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Web Design

Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About Web Design

There are as many as 5 billion internet users worldwide, and over 95% of the UK population is now online. In the age of digital transformation, not only is having an online presence more important than ever, but the role of the website is changing, with a much bigger focus seamless integration and multi-device access.

Gone are the days when people surfed the web from their desktops. These days, we’re scrolling constantly, and we’re scrolling on the go. From our beds, on the train, at a restaurant, or at the gym. The average Brit spends over 3.5 hours online every day, and many are using a mobile or tablet for browsing. According to 73% of web designers, non-mobile-optimised design is the number one reason why people abandon websites and go elsewhere.

Furthermore, the rise of omnichannel has raised the bar for web design, and this is apparent in both B2C and B2B, meaning brand websites can no longer operate as standalone platforms. If your website hasn’t been updated in years, it could be time for a redesign. Or even worse, if you don’t have a website presence at all, now is the time to digitise. Read on for everything you need to know about the design and development process.

1. What is the purpose of a website?

Firstly, it’s important to understand the reason a website exists. As well as having visibility and an online presence, there’s actually a long list of reasons to have a website, including:

  • To advocate your brand and create a professional image
  • To increase brand awareness and reach a wider audience
  • To express your brand’s personality
  • To attract new customers/clients/partners
  • To communicate with your existing customers
  • To provide more information or sell your products/services
  • For data capture and lead generation purposes

Before you create a website, it’s important to consider why you need website development in the first place. It could be some or all of the above, but whatever your main goal is, you will need to make sure your website strategy aligns with your core business objectives.

2. The different types of website design

Generally speaking, there are four main types of website design to know about.

Static website design

Static websites feature fixed content. This content remains the same for every visitor accessing the website, and only changes if the developer modifies the source files. Although static design doesn’t have all the dynamic features, it can still be a popular option.

In addition to lower development costs, static sites are also good for delivering important content with zero distraction. It can be popular for portfolio websites, small start-ups testing things out, teaser websites, advertising campaigns and one-off landing pages, brochure websites, and other informational or read-only sites.

Dynamic website design

If you want a more functional and meaningful website, dynamic design is what you need. Unlike static sites, this solution ensures a better user experience through micro-interactions such as image carousels, animations, hover effects, parallax, mouse trails, morphing hamburger buttons, and more. For most businesses, dynamic website design is recommended.

Responsive website design

As mentioned, non-mobile-optimised sites are becoming a big turn-off for today’s digital generation. This is why it’s important for websites to not only be dynamic, but fully responsive to every device. People access the internet using multiple devices, including their laptops, on their mobiles, and using tablets. The responsive web design approach ensures that web pages render well for all screen sizes, meaning every device user will get the same level of usability and satisfaction when they visit your website.

Experimental website design

Conceptual and experimental websites push the boundaries in terms of technology, and capitalise on features that provide a unique user experience. These can include things such as games or virtual reality, and experimentalism usually defies traditional layouts too. This design approach requires a lot of resources to run and can result in low browser compatibility, which can be one of the major downsides.

3. Principles of a well-designed website

If you’re new to website design, here are some of the guiding principles for what makes a great website that users love.

A clear purpose

First and foremost, you need a clear purpose and strategy. You also have to know quite a bit about your intended audience. This ensures that you’re able to accommodate the needs of the user. This doesn’t just apply to your homepage either. Simple and clear intention on each page will help users get the information they need or take the actions they need to take to move down the funnel.

Beautiful design

As well as being functional, your website must be beautifully designed. Simplicity is important when it comes to design, and the three key components to consider are colour, typography, and imagery.

  • Colour can be used to communicate certain messages through your brand, while evoking powerful emotional responses. This is where colour psychology can be a useful tool.
  • Typography plays an important role too. The right typeface commands attention and helps to convey your brand voice. Typically, there should be a maximum of three different fonts on a website.
  • Imagery is key for communications, and there are many different ways you can use imagery to your advantage. It can include photography, illustrations, and all forms of graphics. You may also find moving imagery useful in getting your message across.

Visual hierarchy

The way in which things are structured on a website are crucial for effective website design. The visual hierarchy determines the order of importance, and can help to establish a focal point for website users. You may also want to consider the “F” or “Z” reading pattern – these are the most common ways users scan text on a website, so this can be a great guide for placement.

Easy navigation

It doesn’t matter how slick or stylish your website is. If the functionality isn’t there to back it up, it’s pointless. In order to make your site functional and convenient for users, you need to have a solid plan for navigation. This is essential for retaining visitors and lowering bounce rate.

Brilliant content

They say content is king, but content can sometimes be overlooked by brands. Good content helps you convey important brand messaging and can be a way to tell engaging stories. When optimised in the right way, it can also put you in Google’s good books, improving your website rankings and attracting more traffic.

Call to actions

Going back to the purpose of your website development project, think about what it is you want your visitors to do. Do you want them to buy a product/service, fill out a contact form, or hand over their data in exchange for a downloadable freebie? Be clear about what you want users to do next, and help them get there with well-designed and cleverly positioned CTA buttons.

Fast load time

Did you know that 53% of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load? Most website users expect a site to load in two seconds or less! Make sure you frequently test website performance, and compress and optimise images to make your pages load faster.

Responsive web pages

Over 92% of website users go online using a mobile phone at least some of the time. Smartphones now account for more than half of our total time spent online (and more than half of the world’s web traffic). If you’re looking to create a new website for your business, or you’re redesigning an existing one, be sure to consider responsive web design that adjusts to different screens.

4. The importance of website usability

If content is king, engagement is queen. In order to keep users engaged and to keep them on your website, it’s important to consider usability. Ideal website usability helps to achieve the following:

  • Makes it easy for users to move around your website and find what they are looking for
  • Creates a comfortable environment for users to browse, shop, research or consume content
  • Delivers an enjoyable user experience that leads to more return customers and greater satisfaction
  • Ensures important and relevant information is communicated to your audience
  • Increases efficacy of marketing and brand messaging

If you want to improve usability, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Make navigation clear – simplicity is key
  2. Improve your content – make sure your content is well-written and doesn’t contain grammatical errors
  3. Fix any broken links so people can find the information they need
  4. Make sure your website works consistently on all browsers
  5. Apply responsive web design techniques so users get the same experience across every device
  6. Provide a search facility – add a search bar to help users get to the right pages
  7. Ensure performance – reduce server downtime and frequently check website speed
  8. Connect it to social – add social media icons for a connected omnichannel experience
  9. Make it easy to get in touch – add a contact form and display contact details clearly on all relevant pages
  10. Use chat tools – instant messenger or chatbots can help to solve customer queries quickly and efficiently

Accessibility matters too…

Another vital element of website usability is accessibility. By making your site accessible and easily navigable for all customer groups, you can create an inclusive online experience.

Dark mode on websites is a growing trend, allowing website visitors to customise their experience to reduce glare and improve visibility in low light settings. Other customisable features that websites are adopting include font scaling and adjustable light contrast for people with visual impairments.

5. Getting started with your new website project

Does your business need a website overhaul? Now that you know the key components of great website design, you can begin the planning process and accelerate your digital transformation journey with a powerful, impactful digital shop front. Here are the steps to help you get started:

1) Consider your requirements

Before embarking on any website design or website development project, it’s important to establish your goals and objectives. What is it that you’re trying to achieve with your new site or redesign? Do you need an ecommerce website? Do you want an online booking function? How many pages will you require? You also need to consider your budget and how much you are willing to spend at this stage.

2) Look for inspiration

Now it’s time to get inspired. Conduct your own competitor benchmarking and review like-for-like businesses as well as businesses you aspire to be like. A website design agency can actually help you with this, but it’s always good to have a few ideas ready to start those initial conversations.

3) Choose an agency

Create a shortlist of companies you would like to work with and get in touch for initial quotes and meetings. Even if budget is a concern, try to prioritise things like agency experience and aligned values over cost. Of course the price has to be right, but it’s also important to find a creative partner that is well-matched to your needs.

For small businesses, it can often be beneficial to work with a local web design agency. This way, you can get a much more personal approach, and the team will have local industry knowledge – including where your customers are based, and who your competitors are. And although we live in the digital age of video meetings, it’s always good to brainstorm with your web designers and developers in person.

4) Decide on the platform

As well as choosing the right agency to partner with, you’ll also need to think about the best platform for your website. WordPress is our preferred platform because of its easy security features, quality plugins, built-in blog capabilities, and search engine friendly design. But we also build websites with Magento, CS Cart, Shopify and Woocommerce depending on your needs.

5) Agree timescale and deliverables

Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you are happy with what’s getting delivered, and when. The timeline is important, especially if you have a launch date looming. You should also agree on a process for working together, the best methods for communications, and what you will be responsible for providing as the client.

Do you need help with your digital transformation journey? If your site needs a makeover, or you want to create a brand new website for your business, drop us a message. Identify Digital is a web design agency serving the Yorkshire area, and we’re on a mission is to transform local industries.

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