Website design continues to be one of the most important ways that your business is presented to customers. Even in the age of social media and eblasts, your website remains core to your online presence. These website design tips for beginners present some key tips and tricks that novices often overlook. Many website design interfaces are point and click, often built on blog platforms that are extremely flexible in style and user-friendly. Here are a few top tips to help you get ahead of your competitors and start with a stellar website straight out of the gate.
Understanding Visual Hierarchy
One of the most interesting elements of visual hierarchy is how intuitive it tends to be for many people. Design Taxi reported on a project that photographer and graphic designer Nei Valente did to emphasize how viewers interpret information, placing simple solid shapes on different areas of a neutral background. He then asked people to assign emotions to the shapes or asked them to assign social roles based on the positions of the shapes. The result revealed that people have specific associations with positions of shapes. This same principle is applicable to the visual hierarchy in a website.
SpeckyBoy breaks down the basics of visual website design elements:
- Size: The bigger the design element, the more it yells and gains attention. Prioritize the most important information by linked it to the largest design elements.
- Color: The types of colors you select for your site not only give it a certain type of personality but should also match up to your brand. Colors that pop can be used to highlight important information.
- Font face: Choosing a specific font you’d like your site to appear in also adds personality and uniqueness, as well as the ability to use a font family and automatically apply different sets of typefaces to different elements of the hierarchy.
- White space: “White space” is the breathable part of your site and bedrock that allows the brighter and bigger elements on the page to stand out. It’s important to have enough white space since otherwise, your page will not only be cluttered, but your visual hierarchy will also function much less effectively.
- Scanning Patterns: The human eye generally scans patterns in either an F or Z formation, which is typical in web design. The F pattern usually applies to sites with a lot of text, whereas the Z is one that doesn’t focus as heavily on text. It depends on how the viewer is going to take in your site.
Website Design Tips for Beginners an Effective Visual Hierarchy
One of the most important parts of arranging your visual hierarchy is knowing which content is the most important. In all cases, you’ll want to focus on answers to questions and CTAs (Call To Action) at the fore. This should include answers to common questions, such as what services you offer or other important aspects of your business.
CTAs are basically buttons or links that ask a visitor to do something that prompts action, whether it’s clicking on a button to join a mailing list or to learn more about a sale. Whatever the action is, the point is to draw a person in and have a successful click conversion.
Some things you don’t want on your site at all are elements that difficult to sift through or use, such as false buttons, carousels, slideshows, tabs or accordions. This system of visual information is overwhelming, jumbled and creates a sense of chaos for visitors to your site. Keep your visual hierarchy and design clean and easy to look at.
The Power (and Pitfalls) of Photos
Photos are one of the most important parts of web design. Over the years, trends involving big splashy images has gone in and out of style. Splash pages at one point were all the rage but then fell out of favor for different flatter ways of organizing visual information. However, regardless of how many or how few photos you use on your site, what is essential is not using the wrong photos in the first place.
One of the most common sins for any website is the use of stock photos. Stock photos can sometimes be useful if simply can’t have a real photo, but if possible, avoid them at all costs. They can also be expensive, and it’s not worth the price tag since almost any visitor to your website will immediately be able to spot a stock photo from a mile away. This is especially true if you’re offering services that are supposed to be personalized or uniquely tailored, such as health care services like a therapist or a local business. It gives an impersonal feel and detracts substantially from a nicely designed site. Try to use real pictures if possible.
The Principles of Clear Navigation
Adobe states that navigation menus should remain consistent on all pages of the website, allowing visitors to easily maneuver and find the content that they’re looking for in as few clicks as possible.
They also highlight the importance of treating internal and external links differently. Your website visitors will always expect internal links to open in the same tab, whereas it’s smart to have external links which lead off-site open in a new tab. This is a simple feature to select when you’re inserting links into your site. Also beware of external links, since it’s possible to direct your website visitors off-site and then have them never return. Social media links are all well and good, but be careful about where you place them.
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