In our digital age, websites have become ubiquitous. As of 2021, there were just under 1.9 billion websites online, and it is estimated that the number of internet users globally will grow to 5.3 billion by 2023.
From personal websites, social media, business and e-commerce, to entertainment, news, and education, there are many types of websites we can visit online. Websites provide an invaluable opportunity to connect with an audience digitally, grow a brand, share information, and buy or sell products and services.
In this article, we will examine the important elements of web design, focusing on the key elements of web design that can boost website impact, capture user interest, and create positive user experiences. As we will discuss, website design is about more than just visual elements and aesthetics. Website design and user experience influences search engine rankings and website traffic. Web design powers visitors’ perceptions of a brand and can influence a site visitors’ behaviour. A website design and layout affect an organization’s entire web presence.
We will examine the key elements of a successful website design and ask what role a website designer can play in helping to make a website a success.
All website design decisions should be focused around serving the users, building user-friendly layouts and navigation, and striving to create an appealing digital space that visitors will enjoy and find engaging and easy to use. User Experience (UX) in website design refers to everything that affects a user’s interaction with a website. When evaluating their experience using a website, users typically evaluate general impressions, functionality, and usability. Does this website work well? Is it easy to use? Is it pleasant to use?
User Experience encompasses what users think and feel about a website. It focuses on the end user’s overall experience, including their perceptions, emotions, and responses to using a website. UX is defined by criteria including ease of use, accessibility, and convenience. Together, these individual factors contribute to the users’ overall experience. Web designers can not afford to overlook the importance of user experience. 88% of internet users report that they would not revisit a website after having had a bad user experience. 90% of users state they would leave a website if they find the design unappealing or not user-friendly.
Core Web Vitals is an initiative by Google providing unified guidance for helping web developers understand how users experience a website. Core Web Vitals underline the importance of optimizing a website for quality of user experience as key to the long-term success of any site on the web.
Core Web Vitals highlight the importance of page loading performance, ease of interaction, and the visual stability of a page from a users’ perspective as key metrics used to measure user experience. These metrics support the conclusions of a recent web design survey that found that the main reasons visitors abandon a website are slow loading, non-responsive design, and bad navigation.
Website designers should focus on developing designs that align with the qualities and conditions that will contribute to positive user experiences, including ensuring that they optimize the website pages for fast page load times. Great user experiences come from creating appealing visual designs, including elements like video and animations, paired with engaging, relevant, and useful content, and user-friendly site navigation that will allow users to find what they’re looking for on the site easily and conveniently.
Having identified User Experience as centrally important for web designers, we will now examine in more detail some of the aspects of design that influences how a visitor experiences using a website, and how web designers can affect these experiences.
When creating website content, it’s important to have a clear idea about the target audience – the people coming to the site, or the people you want to come to the site. What search terms would they type into a search bar, what kinds of problems do they want to solve, and what information would they want to find on the site?
Think about why people visit a website. Are they looking for information to help them make a decision? Are they looking to buy a product or service? Engaging content with relevant and useful information that provides value to visitors is an important factor in providing positive user experiences.
When visiting a website, users are looking for content that explains the essence of the organisation. What content elements do visitors want from a website? 86% of visitors want to see information about products and services, 64% want to see contact details, and 52% want information about the organisation.
Presenting these content elements on your site in a thoughtful and engaging way helps build credibility and trust with visitors and creates a valuable space where you can promote your services, generate new leads, and grow your audience.
Engaging and relevant content certainly contributes to creating positive user experiences, but great website design involves more than just creating useful and informative website content. As we will see below, a web designer must pay close attention to visual design elements, appropriate colour schemes, page layouts, and other graphic design aspects, and must also focus on the functional aspects of the website that enhance user experience, including ensuring fast page load times and developing an intuitive and user-friendly navigation system that allows visitors to find their way around the site easily.
Website visual design elements include page layout designs, colour schemes, branded design features, typography, and the use of appropriate images. Visual design, the look and feel of the website, plays a major role in creating the first impressions visitors make about a site. In a recent study, 46% of consumers based their decisions on the credibility of a website on visual appeal and aesthetics.
In a similar study, 38% of internet users stated they would stop engaging with a website if the layout is unattractive. How a website looks and feels has an important influence on user experience. Websites with strong visual appeal help to build trust and credibility. Modern website visual design practices popular with users include using bold colours, large typography, a minimalist outlook, the use of white spaces to create visual hierarchy, clean website layout, and high-quality images.
Employing these elements, combined with distinctive visual design elements that align with the company brand identity, including brand logos and colour schemes, will contribute to creating a strong and unique visual design that users will appreciate. Successful website design relies on a seamless integration of quality and informative content with engaging and appealing visual design.
Your website may look great, and it may be full of engaging content, but if users can’t figure out how to navigate your website when they land on your home page, they’ll likely become frustrated, and will leave and find a more user-friendly alternative.
Internet users consistently state easy navigation is one of the most important design features for a website. Website navigation refers to the organization of links and menus, and the connection between different pages on a website. Top menus, sidebars, footers, and breadcrumbs all play a role in site navigation. Web designers should play close attention to ensuring they design a simple and easy to use navigation system that creates positive user experience. Good site navigation guides users around the site with clear sign posting to pages and sections that makes it easy for users to move around and find what they are searching for.
Website navigation best practices emphasise the importance of developing a clear, well thought out site structure and sitemap. Web designers should carefully plan the navigation and hierarchy of pages and outline the structure and layout of the website content with a sitemap. Top menus and sidebar menus should focus on providing quick links to the most important website content. Labelling menus clearly, adding a search bar, including contact information in the footer, adding breadcrumb navigation and links back to the homepage on every page also contribute to creating an accessible and user-friendly navigation system.
Responsive web design is a web design approach that allows websites and pages to display optimally on all devices and screen sizes by automatically adapting to the screen. Responsive design enables a website to be accessible and to render seamlessly on all devices. Recent research on website traffic highlights the increasing dominance of mobile devices online. Mobile device traffic accounted for 54% of all website traffic worldwide in 2021.
Furthermore, it’s estimated that by 2025, 72.6% of internet users worldwide will access the web solely via their smartphones. These statistics underline the importance of ensuring website designs are responsive across all devices.
A survey conducted by GoodFirms found that non-responsive design is one of the top reasons visitors leave a website. 73% of website visitors will leave a website with a non-responsive website design.
With mobile devices increasing popularity online, website designers must ensure a seamless user experience across all devices. Web designers should account for different screen dimensions and how this will impact the look, layout, and display of the website design on desktop, smartphone, and tablet devices.
At Grinning Graphics, we understand it is increasingly important that a website is accessible and responsive across all devices. All our website designs are dynamic and responsive as standard.
Website optimisation is the process of using tools and strategies to improve the performance of a website, and anything that helps a website get noticed by search engines including content that appeals to automated search engine ‘spiders’. The aim is to rank higher on search engines for targeted keywords and drive more traffic to the site. Factors that contribute to search engine optimisation include optimising a website for mobile-friendliness, website speed, sitemaps, and navigation, and including tags to help search engines identify and index content, including alt tags, image tags, and clear headings and URL structures.
Website designers cannot afford to overlook the importance of optimisation and website performance if they want their website design to be successful. 1 in 4 visitors would abandon a website that takes longer than 4 seconds to load, and 46% of users would not revisit a poorly performing site. A website must be optimised to rank highly on search engines, to drive more organic traffic to the site, and to ensure the website is responsive and loads content quickly. Ensuring the site is equipped with sitemaps, effective meta descriptions, image tags, alt tags, and URL structure, helps identify content and aids search engines in identifying and indexing. A high-ranking site builds trust with users.
The key elements of website design centre around creating positive user experiences, providing valuable information presented in a visually engaging way and easily accessible through an intuitive and user-friendly navigation system. It’s important to test the website thoroughly at every stage of the development to ensure the site is functioning as intended. Test the navigation, test the website performance, and page load speeds, test the features, and explore the user interface and site navigation to ensure it is easy to use.
As we have discussed, positive user experiences play a major role in the success of a website, influencing important factors like search ranking, website traffic and conversion rates. A website that provides bad user experiences can damage a company’s credibility, but a well-designed website that stimulates positive user experiences can help a company strengthen its brand, generate new leads and new customers. Web designers can design features and elements that contribute to creating positive user experiences, driving better engagement, and creating positive impressions of a brand. Google’s Core Web Vitals initiative offers an excellent guide to help designers understand what is important to users. These insights will help develop website designs that appeal to those qualities most desired – ease of use, accessibility, and convenience. A focus on user experience, with distinctive visual design elements, optimised for search and website performance, are the key ingredients necessary to make a website design a success. Focus on these elements and you’re on your way to creating a website design that will become a valuable marketing asset, provoking engaging user experiences, and building positive impressions of your business.
If you’re looking for web designers to create a successful website design for your business or organisation, we would love to hear more about you. Get in touch today to book a FREE website design consultation at Grinning Graphics.