Designing a successful website may appear to be a simple task, but there are many factors that need to be considered by the designer to ensure that it not only looks great, but also delivers customers and sales to the business. Well today is your lucky day! We’re going to let you in on 5 web design secrets that people “in the know” use to build successful websites which reap rewards for their clients.
Remember who you are designing the website for
Your client, right? Wrong! Despite what the client may think, the website is not going to be for them. The front-end of the site is not going to be used by them, and they are not going to be making purchases or enquiring about the services. The website needs to be designed for the clients’ customers.
This can prove tricky in certain situations as some clients do have a tendency to dictate the design according to their own preferences. But, it is very important they understand that the designer is the expert here. The designer is the one carrying out design and usability research into their industry, and the designer is the one with the knowledge and expertise about what works and what doesn’t work in design.
The secret here is to get inside the site users’ heads (not literally! That would be horrible…) and find out what makes them tick. To do this, detailed research into the different user personas is required. This can be a time-consuming process, but by doing this you can identify the types of user your client wants to target, and tailor the website for their needs.
The Web Design should be based on your users’ goals
Web design is not a vanity contest, and whilst it is important that the site looks professional and well presented, it’s functionality is what will convert users into customers. It is the job of the designer to marry aesthetic design with business-minded functionality to ensure that users firstly stay on the site, and secondly are able to easily achieve their goals.
Following on from the last point, identifying user personas is the best way to build a successful website for your site users. To do this you need to identify, in detail, the different types of users who require your services. This means identifying their age, gender, demographics, job type, website needs, and anything else that comes to mind. With this information you can customise your website according to their needs, providing them with a perfect website experience.
Keep it simple, stupid!
Here’s a fact that may blow your mind, simple websites are scientifically better! Yes, it’s true. In a study carried out by Google in 2012 they found that simpler websites were consistently rated as “more beautiful” than their more visually complex counterparts.
It all comes down to psychology. There are various reasons why simple is better, including things like cognitive fluency and visual information processing. We won’t go into these theories here, but there is a great blog post here which delves into the theory in considerable detail.
In layman’s terms, simple websites work better because they require less work from your eyes and brain to decode, understand and process the information on the page. And to back up this theory just look at the most successful websites around today – Google, Apple and Microsoft being good examples.
Call to actions, value propositions and landing pages
So, you’ve created your user personas, your design is beautiful, functional and simple, and that’s a fantastic step in the right direction. You’re almost there! But there’s still more to do…. How can you further encourage your users to convert into much needed customers?
For each user persona you identified you need to construct a journey through your website which results in them carrying out a goal. This could be making a purchase, an enquiry, or signing up for an offer. The way to achieve this is by offering them something in exchange for their details. Once you have their details you can then send further communication to them, nurturing the relationship.
Examples of this include an eBook, how to guide, competition, special offer, or anything else you can think of. Successful content offers vary from industry to industry, and will involve trial and error to perfect. Once you have developed your content offer, you need to lead the user to that offer. This can be done by setting up a call to action in relevant areas of your site, leading to a landing page which acts as a gateway to your offer.
Life in the fast lane – the importance of speed
Website speed has become increasingly important in the eyes of Google, and is now a confirmed signal used to rank pages. So, how fast is your website. Not sure? Luckily Google has a nifty little tool that allows you to test your Page Speed.
Research has shown that faster web pages rank higher in the SERPs and also convert better. This is because page speed is important for user experience, something that Google is focusing more heavily on. Slower pages tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time spent on the page.
So, how can you increase your page speed. Well, if you followed the previous points you will already have a head start, as simple pages tend to be quicker than their more complex counterparts. But, there are many factors which can affect speed including hosting, image size, calls to internal and external scripts, script size, etc. etc. etc. You get the drift? It’s a bit of a minefield!
Google’s Page Speed tool is very useful as it highlights areas where you can make improvements. Most common improvements are:
- Optimizing image sizes
- Enabling Gzip compression
- Leveraging browser caching
- Improve server response time
This may sound complicated but for people with the correct know-how, they are fairly simple to carry out. And, what’s more, if your site is built in WordPress plugins are available to achieve most of these points.
So, there you have it, a collection of the top web design secrets in a nutshell. We still recommend getting a professional to carry out your project, but with your new and improved knowledge, you can now find a professional who will do the job right! As for me… I’d better go and hide. The web design police will be out in force looking for me!