It has never been more important to have a great-looking website
However with so many website building tools enabling anyone to make a website
Even with little to no technical skills
It is getting more and more difficult to make your website stand out.
For designers, the stakes are even higher because an exceptional-looking website isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s mandatory.
After all, if you’re not able to do a great job with your website, why would clients expect you to do any better for them?
Here are some easy tips to give your design website the makeover it deserves.
Your headings and content should be driven by what your potential customers are looking for.
Including keywords in your title is also very important for targeting your message and attracting the right audience.
Search Engines typically give headings more weight over other content, so choosing the right heading and making it stand out can significantly improve your search ability.
But more importantly, headings guide your user through the site, making it easy to scan through and find content that speaks to them directly.
On more than one occasion I have heard clients complain that there was too much white space on their
site and that this unused real estate ought to be used for advertising more of their services.
However, white space is essential to good design. White space makes your content more legible while also enabling the user to focus on the elements surrounding the text.
According to Crazy Egg, white space around text and titles increases user attention by 20%.
White space can also make your website feel open, fresh and modern and if your branding is consistent with these then it can help you communicate that feeling to the user.
One downside of white space to keep in mind, however, is that it does indeed take up space.
One of the most frustrating experiences for users of the web is waiting for a page to load for too long. With the rise of the mobile devices,
people are accessing content all over the world on many different platforms.
While browsing online at Starbucks or while watching TV on their laptop, they expect a fast result for the content that they want.
When they don’t get it, they usually bounce.
Slow page load is an interrupting experience for the user and it can be a source of frustration and often users simply don’t have the time to wait.
Need some proof? A 2-second delay in load time during a visit results in abandonment rates of up to 87%.
When you add a link to any page you are saying you want the user to click there. Make sure links are easily identifiable by visual cues.
Underlined text and different colored text, draws the attention of the reader and lets him know that this is a link.
In a study done by Karyn Graves, she shows that the regular web user sees blue-and-underlined text as links and knows to click on them.
Exploiting user expectations and what they already know about using the web is tantamount to success.
When it comes to hyper link differentiation you do not need to reinvent the wheel. Sticking to convention can be your best ally here.
A simple way to test how effective your links are is to blur and remove the color from the design and see what stands out.
When hyper linking, also stop to think about the length of the hyper link.
The longer the link titles the more easy to identify they are.
Bullets will enable the user to quickly get all the information they want: benefits, ways you solve their problem, and key features of a product/service-- all in a short amount of time.
This will make your propositions more attractive and will enable the user to get all the information they need. Additionally you do not have to go the traditional route with a simple circle.
With tons of cool icons out there you can also get creative with your bullet and help the reader further with images that represent your point.
This is also useful because it will force you to isolate the most important points you are trying to make without getting caught up in terminology or specifics.
One great example of non-conventional bullets comes from http://www.one.org/us/about/ . On this page they use icons as bullets to highlight their accomplishments in a way that is easy to read.
Also, notice the white space surrounding the bullets that allow you to focus on each section.
People across the Internet are getting smarter and faster at judging company websites.
When they first visit your site they are easily able to pick out a generic stock photo that they have already seen elsewhere or that resembles the non-personal style of stock photography.
Using stock photography can decrease trust and also stand out as generic and non-unique.
Unfortunately these associations carry over to your business as well.
In a case study done by Spectrum, Inc. of Harrington Movers, a New Jersey and New York City moving company, they were able to increase conversion on a page by simply replacing a stock photo with an image of the actual team of movers.
They got the same increase in conversion and confidence to the page by adding a picture of their actual moving truck versus the stock photo.
For people to take your business seriously, you need to show that you take it seriously as well. No matter how great your website looks, something will feel off if your clients are receiving emails that don’t match your website’s domain name.
Give your website more credibility by extending your branding and getting a you@yourdomain email address.
Plus, you can even make your business seem bigger than it really is by registering multiple email addresses like info@, support@, press@, and so on.
Consistency means making everything match. Heading sizes, font choices, coloring, button styles, spacing, design elements, illustration styles, photo choices, etc.
Everything should be themed to make your design coherent between pages and on the same page.
In order to provide your user with a beautiful experience as they navigate through your site, it is important that they know they are still in your website.
Drastic design changes from one page to the other can lead your user to feel lost and confused and to lose trust in your site.
“Am I in the right place?” Is a question I often find myself asking when navigating through inconsistent sites and when I do - I usually end up leaving!
Inconsistencies in design lower the quality of the products and services you are providing in the viewer’s eyes.
When you’re first building your website, it’s easy to get carried away with widgets.
“Cool, I can show my tweets and everyone who likes my page on Facebook and a Google StreetView map!”
Take a good look at these widgets and ask yourself if they’re serving any purpose.
Only tweet once a month? Just have 58 likes on Facebook?
Your location isn’t important for visitors to know?
Might be time to take these off of your site then. Let’s also not forget about mobile.
If these widgets take forever to load on smartphones or, worst of all, don’t even work, then it’s definitely time for them to go.
As much as I’d love to believe that you’re on the edge of your seat reading every single word of this article,
the reality is that we all skim website content.
This is one thing for a blog post, but is a more serious challenge for a homepage or other main section of your site.
This is your best chance to sell people on your product or service, which is why you need to make every word count.
If your website has paragraph after paragraph of copy, it’s time to start editing.
Read over your copy and ask whether each sentence needs to be there.
Are two sentences essentially saying the same thing? Combine them.
Do neither of them add anything important? Delete both of them.
Shortening your copy gives you better odds that your main messages will be communicated and that your site looks less intimidating to visitors wanting to learn more about you.
One of the more fun creative challenges I look forward to as a content writer are Calls-To-Action (CTAs).
These are the main links (often a button) that are intended to encourage a reader to move onto whatever you’ve defined as the next step.
This could be scheduling a meeting, reading more about a piece from your portfolio,
signing up for your newsletter, or anything else that will help drive engagement with your audience.
Typically, CTAs are something generic like Buy Now or Learn More.
Those are descriptive, sure, but overall they’re so so.
There’s so much room here to have fun, and too few of us take advantage.
Switching to something more casual like Sign Me Up or Teach Me could go a long way.
For me, nothing is more irksome than a spelling mistake or, worst of all, mixing up it’s/its or you’re/your.
Read over your copy and make sure everything is the way it should be.
Search engines are very important for attracting new visitors to your site, but only if you’re able to rank highly in search results.
To have the best chances possible, you’ll have to do some search engine optimization (SEO).
There are books, blogs and entire courses dedicated to SEO, so it’s much beyond the scope of one section of a blog post.
One basic SEO improvement you can make is to look at each page on your site and decide what the target keyword(s) of each page are.
This is what you think most people will type into Google that your page provides an answer to.
For example, one target keyword/phrase for hover.com could be domain name registration.
If your site is built with WordPress, the Yoast SEO plug-in is very helpful for better optimizing your website.
For each page, you can set which keyword you are trying to target, and it’ll offer suggestions of where and how to place your keyword.
Another boost you can give your website is adding ALT tags to your images.
This is the text that will show up if for whatever reason a visitor is unable to load your images.
There are two benefits to this:
Your visitors won’t miss out on important information if they’re unable to load an image.
You’ll give Google additional content to crawl and increase your odds of ranking higher in search results.
This is particularly good for Google Image results, where your awesome imagery will have another platform to be discovered on.
Low-resolution imagery is something any website should avoid, but this is especially true for design websites.
Take a look at your site on different devices and screen sizes;
if any of your imagery doesn’t appear crisp and high-res, swap it out for something new.
Much like your home, a fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into your website.
Switch up your web site's colors to give both you and your visitors a new way to look at your site.
Who knows, seeing your site in a new light may even give you inspiration for other ways to make improvements as well!
While search engines don’t punish you severely for soft 404 errors (page not found), a user will!
When a user approaches a link or an image they are expecting this link will take them to the next place they want to go.
Encountering a 404 will make your user annoyed and have them re-think spending their time on your website (when they probably could go elsewhere for a faster solution).
Next to slow page load time, running into 404s another highly frustrating event for a user and it completely disrupts their journey throughout your website.
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