At Open Design, we focus on allaspects of our customer’s businesses including websites, marketing, ad campaigns,social media presence, and business processes. Of these items, one of the firstones that we tackle is the website.
At Open Design, we focus on all aspects of our customer’s businesses including websites, marketing, ad campaigns, social media presence, and business processes. Of these items, one of the first ones that we tackle is the website. As a company (big or small), it is imperative to have an operational and visually pleasing website. In this multi part blog series, we will cover some of the common pitfalls websites today face that result in a website that is not as effective as it could be. Today, we’ll talk about how design is integral in a successful website. Without a good design, your website will be boring, and people won’t want to use it. Harsh as it may sound, a website that sucks is a website that is not providing information for people, not presenting pertinent information clearly, or not converting views to actions.
So, what all constitutes a good design?
In our experience, these three things are key to a good design: layout, content, and functionality.
The first design element Open Design focuses on is layout. Does your layout incorporate both text and images? A block of multiple of paragraphs of text is not ideal. As a culture, we are prone to only focusing on short snippets of text at one time. Thanks Instagram captions and tweets! Due to our shortened attention spans, we want to find information fast and don’t want to spend time sorting through chunks of text or trying to decipher long and complicated sentences. Varying the content on your website helps keep the layout visually pleasing and fresh, while making sure people can find what they are looking for. We’ll go into this in more depth when we talk about functionality. Another thing to keep in mind is the way your content is organized.
Did you know that most people read websites in a ‘z’ format? Our eyes tend to bounce back and forth from the top left to the top right, through the middle, and then down to the top left and then top right. When we know this, we can make sure to place the content within the confines of this pattern. Doing this ensures that people see what they need to in the order they will read it. Now that we have a layout that lends itself to easy reading, that brings us to...
Once we have figured out the right layout, we change our focus to the meat of your website: the content. The most important thing to keep in mind with content is to have a good variety. This means variety in forms of text, as well as adding in multimedia. Images and videos can be very powerful when used in conjunction with text, just as lists break up text and make long sections easier to read. When a user goes to website and is faced with large blocks of text, they get overwhelmed. With lots of text, their eyes can get tired easily and they won’t give your website a chance. On the flipside, if your website has mainly pictures with minimal text, users may not be able to find what they are looking for. To have a good design, you need a balance in the content being displayed. Make sure every page has not only text, but also relevant pictures and images. Some general rules to keep in mind are1500 words on the homepage and 500 words on subpages.
Another way to have variety in content is to make sure that you are not using the same exact phrases multiple times in multiple places. While repetition helps ideas stick in people’s head, you don’t want the exact same sentence or paragraph repeated. Take an existing sentence then spice it up a little to make it different. There is always more than one way to say the same thing!
The third prong of the good design trifecta is functionality. Functionality covers how well the website works to fulfill its intended purpose and how easily people can use it. Does your website adequately explain your mission and what you do? Can potential customers find pricing and contact information within the home page? In today’s market, all websites need to be mobile friendly. We cannot emphasize enough how critical it is to have a website that doesn’t get cut off or jumbled when a user looks it up on a mobile device. People spend so much time on their phone so it is becoming more likely that they would choose to look something up on their phone instead of their computer. Imagine that you are an HVAC company. Your future customer is stuck in their house on a day when Northern VA hits 95 degrees and suddenly their AC unit dies. They realize it in the midst of their Facebook scrolling. Are they going to put their phone down to grab a computer? No, they are going to pull up their internet browser and google local HVAC companies. You want to make sure that if they come across your site, they find a good-looking mobile website with contact information readily available. Speaking of contact information, do you have a call to action on your site? Call to actions are really beneficial because they provide engagement and create an experience. Having a ‘Contact Now’ button allows people to easily reach out with questions. Or a ‘Schedule an Appointment’ button enables people to simplify the process by scheduling an appointment without having to talk on the phone (there are some people who don’t like talking on the phone). People turn to the Internet and their cell phones for everything now. It is crucial to have a website that represents your company, provides information and an experience, and has good design. Remember, the three things to focus on are layout, content, and functionality. If you nail these, your users will have a positive experience with your website!
Stay tuned for the next post in our series, Your Website Sucks: Poor Content.
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