A great website design starts with a deep understanding of your target audience and what they expect from their web experience. What may be a good web design to you and your team could be the exact opposite of what your audience members are expecting. So, when designing your website, it’s important to have a clear vision that aligns both your business goals and your target audience goals.
Below we walk through a few steps that can help your team lay the groundwork for a great user experience in your website’s design. We will touch on points such as:
- Surveying your audience
- Appearance and tone
- Content development
- Search engine optimization
- Testing and tweaking
As always, if you have anything you’d like to add to the points below, feel free to drop us a comment! We’d love to hear from you and have a discussion. But until then, let’s dive right in...
Survey Your Audience
Want to get a headstart on a killer design? Take advantage of asking your target audience what they expect from a great user experience. Ask great questions to get great feedback:
- What kind of website layouts to you enjoy?
- What kind of functionality do you expect out of your website experience?
- What about our website is distracting or providing no value to you as a user?
- What do you think would make our website better or more engaging?
- What about our website is working or keeping you engaged?
Asking thought provoking questions that are more inquiring than a simple “yes” or “no” will allow you to get more feedback and details out of the surveyee. Remember, your goal with surveying is to tap into your user’s psyche and get a better understanding of their expectations. With more detail into how your users use your website, you’ll be able to provide them a more valuable experience when you redesign your site.
Prioritize common feedback or obstacles to fix and do the same with features or functionalities your user's requests based on resources and capabilities available.
Focus On Appearance and Time
The appearance of your website goes beyond a simple layout. A website design takes into consideration all of the following:
- Fonts: Make sure that your font choice is easy to read and see. If a font is too overwhelming or difficult to read, it takes away from the content or information on the page. It should also be noted to heavily consider your font size and spacing.
- Images: Make sure you use images that serve a purpose to the content that surrounds it. Avoid stock photos when possible.
- Colors: Make sure the colors on your website are an extension of your brand and are used tastefully. Too much color can be distracting or overwhelming to the user.
- Navigation: Keep all navigation organized in a logical manner. Keep your navigation consistent across the entire website and easily accessible to users at all times.
Tie all of these elements together to ensure that your website design and layout meet the standards of your brand’s presentation and voice. If there is inconsistency between your brand and the design of your website, you can create major points of confusion for those that access your website, which will lead to decreased engagement and ultimately conversions.
Provide Content Your Audience Actually Wants
Content marketing is a huge buzzword right now and rightfully so. With 88% of marketers using a content marketing strategy of some kind and 73% of major organizations hiring someone specifically for content marketing, it’s safe to say that content development should be a huge effort for your brand moving forward.
Now, “Content” can mean many things to many people, but I will define content as this:
Any media format that communicates a message or information to a recipient.
It’s important that you should never create content simply for the sake of creating content. The audience members that come to your website digest content in a specific way and it’s important that you engage your audience in the way that most suits them. Some audience like video, while others may like how-to guides or downloadable PDF articles. It’s important that you conduct proper research on your audience and your competitors.
Make sure that when you are creating content or creating a new design that you are taking into consideration how your audience reads content. This could be the difference between creating a brand legacy that’s highly engaging or highly forgettable.
Make Sure The Damn Thing Is Functional
Website functionality should be a top priority when considering a great website design. Why? If it doesn’t work or abide by web design best practices, then no one is going to want to use it. Take into consideration your website’s load times (use our Pagespeed Tool to get started), as well as mobile & responsive usability, which is now a ranking factor in Google’s search results.
With 75% of internet use expected to be mobile in 2017, it’s more important than ever to ensure your website is accessible and functional across multiple device types.
Also be sure that all multimedia (such as videos and images) are properly rendering and appearing as they should. If
Keep Search Engine Optimization In Mind
Of course, what good is a good website design if no one can find it? Google handles 2 trillion searches a year, roughly equating to about 57,000 searches per second. Now, granted, your industry doesn’t account for all of those searches, but it’s safe to say that a good portion of your users find your website via search (consult your Google Analytics, of course).
Baking a well crafted Search Engine Optimization strategy into your website design is more important than ever. For instance, focus on:
- Content that can be crawled by search engines (don’t put text in images or infographics that can’t be crawled)
- Make sure that relevant keywords are used in your content
- Don’t use too much code that will weigh down your site load times
- Make sure your images are compressed and properly using alt tags to describe what’s in the image
- Always ensure your site is responsive in design (Google and other search engines prefer it)
Remember, first and foremost, that with any SEO strategy, your users come first. This means you should not base an entire website design around strictly search engines. You should first prioritize the needs of the users that will be accessing your website and how your design will benefit them most. From there, take into consideration SEO best practices. As you can see, a
Test And Tweak
Before you put your new website design out there into the digital world, it’s highly recommended that you have users test it to ensure it’s functional and meeting their standards. Ask current clients or customers to have a look and click around. Give them a list of tasks for them to complete and a list of questions for them to answer during. For instance:
- What do you think of the layout of this page?
- Can you easily find information you need?
- Can you easily find calls to actions or next steps?
- What would you change about this page?
- What would you keep on this page?
- Is there anything distracting or overwhelming?
Also, through services like Conversion Rate Optimization, you can also conduct A/B testing for new website designs against current website designs. This means that 50% of your website traffic would see the current layout of your website, while the other 50% would see your new page design. From there, you can measure engagement on both versions, and see if the new design is resulting in higher conversion rates.
Testing your new website design is highly recommended before going live. Doing so will give you a full scope of whether or not your new design will ultimately result in higher engagement and conversions. Take advantage of testing, you’ll be happy you did.
Again, a great website design comes down to understanding your target audience’s preferences and goals. If you can provide an experience that meets both of those needs, then you stand to achieve increased engagement metrics and conversion rates. Focusing on your audience is the core to any marketing strategy, and digital is no different. With your website being the center to your digital marketing presence, it’s imperative that you provide your users with a consistent and easy to use web experience that meets or exceeds their expectations.
We covered a lot of ground in this blog post and mentioned many of the services Marcel Digital is best known for, including:
- Website Development
- Search Engine Optimization
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Google Analytics Consulting
When it comes to developing or designing your website, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at Marcel Digital. We’re standing by and ready to hear how we can help your next web project become a work of art.
About the author
Alex Vilmur is a wizard at development and also trumpet. He once auditioned for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, but found his passion for website development and Umbraco made it too hard to leave.