8 Ways To Level Up Your Web Design In 2021
Getting your website design right is now more important than ever. It’s the digital storefront for your business and often provides the first impression to potential customers.
After 2020, it’s clear that your digital platform is as important as your physical location — if not more so — and there are many businesses that operate exclusively online.
Because of this, web design has a huge impact. The technical quality and presentation of your website content can affect everything from search engine rankings to your business’s conversion rates.
These 8 tips will help level up your web design in 2021 to secure even more sales in the future.
Prioritize the user experience
A great-looking website is nice to have but, if its user experience is poor, the flashiest imagery will do nothing for your conversions. This is the difference between UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) design.
No one wants to stay and look around or buy from a confusing website.
However, a good UX has further technical benefits besides aiding your conversion rate. It can actually help with SEO as well. Since users don’t like websites that load slowly and are confusing to navigate, search engines won’t prioritize them either. So, providing a good UX is a necessary part of optimizing your website to climb the search engine results pages.
There are a number of UX factors search engines will take into account, and page load speed is one of them. In fact, it’s a pretty critical one, as Google suggests that webpages should load in under 3 seconds. There are a few ways to improve page load speed, including compressing files and images, and reducing your number of plugins.
Another phrase that has become a big deal in SEO is “responsive formatting”. This refers to webpages that are able to render differently when opened with different browsers and devices. Basically, it ensures that your website can be used just as effectively on mobile as on a desktop. This is important because the majority of internet searches now come from mobile phones — almost 51%, according to Statista. Because of this development, many web builders are actually advocating for not just responsive design, but mobile-first design, so that websites can have the best possible presentation on smartphones and other mobile devices.
It’s also important to have good site navigation that’s easy to use and understand. For this, it’s helpful to make a website outline before settling on your navigation plan.
Finally, make sure that your website is inclusive and accessible to everyone. Add alt text to any images and caption your videos. If you cater to multiple languages, you should also add a translation feature to your website to make browsing as easy as possible for your visitors.
Choose your colors carefully
It seems like an innocuous choice, but the colors you use on your website can actually communicate quite a bit about what your business stands for and how your customers perceive it.
The first thing to consider is what you want your brand image to be. If you haven’t already developed a brand strategy, now is the time to do that. Knowing the image and personality that you want to project will help with eliminating colors that don’t work for you. For example, a law firm or strictly professional site will probably not want to use neons, pastels, or other bright and fun color palettes. Meanwhile, those color schemes would be great for a design company or a fun learning website.
If you’re struggling to choose the right color palette for your website, check out Venngage’s guide to choosing colors that captivate and communicate effectively. This will walk you through everything you need to think about.
One convenient aspect of color theory is that it’s relatively instinctive. If your website feels like it should be green, there might be a subconscious reason for it that you can’t yet identify. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no wrong colors, though. Using too many different colors for similar things, or too many similar colors for distinct features can be confusing for the reader. Generally, you’ll want to pick two similar colors for the overall design, with one contrasting color to use for emphasis. For large blocks of text, you’ll probably still want to stick with black or dark grey.
Beyond that, just test out some variations and have fun with the process!
Use images your customers will see themselves in
Using the right images on your web pages is incredibly important. There are two reasons for this. One, you want to break up large amounts of written content to make it more palatable. Two, you want to show your target audience that your products or services are made for them.
Here’s what we mean.
GroomsShop, a retailer of gifts for groomsmen, includes a variety of photos that emulate their target audience. Their products are designed for young grooms who are unsure of how best to thank their groomsmen for being a part of the wedding party. Because of this, their website is full of photos of young men in suits: grooms, groomsmen, and fun, relatable wedding parties.
Using clothing models that resemble your target demographic seems like a no-brainer, but it’s something that many stores have had trouble putting into practice. Women’s athletic wear line Athleta does a good job of demonstrating what this should look like. They use models with diverse body types to sell athletic clothing to every woman that works out.
Image choices go hand-in-hand with web design. So much so, in fact, that SPD Load’s web design trends of 2021 specifically go into detail on trends for photos. They predict that bold colors, images focusing on people, and digital editing to add in graphic elements will be very popular in the near future.
Make sure your calls-to-action stand out
Clear calls-to-action or CTAs are super important for boosting conversions on your landing pages. When visitors are interested in your products, they should be able to access them easily. Also, a good CTA can help push an uncertain visitor in the right direction.
Here are a couple of good examples worth considering for inspiration. Since both fall into the financial software niche, we’re going to focus on how each one approaches presenting a CTA differently, and how all of these options are effective for the product type.
FreshBooks has created free invoicing templates that help address a particular pain point of their client base: late payments. These provide potential customers with an easy way to test out one of their products before deciding to commit. If they decide that they like the templates, they can easily join the ranks of FreshBooks’s millions of satisfied customers and avoid missing out on working with an amazing business.
Potential customers are pulled in by the free resource, and can easily find the button to take advantage of it. Distinct colors and arrows both help ensure that the CTA is clearly visible. Further, letting visitors know that 24 million people have already used the service evokes a sense of FOMO — or fear of missing out — that they may want to satisfy by trying the service themselves.
If you would like a masterclass in using contrasting colors to help a call-to-action stand out, look no further than Wave’s competitor comparison page.
If you would like to replicate this for your own site, choose a background color and then look into what hue is opposite it on the color wheel. This will work best as your contrasting color.
If your customers are able to try your products or services before they buy, it’s also worth making this clear with your CTA, just like Wave has. The word “free” has a lot of power when it comes to convincing someone to convert, so make sure you use it where appropriate!
These are all great CTA examples for a few reasons:
- The CTA button is easy to locate
- They’re straight to the point
- They provide clear next steps (i.e. “watch”, “join”, etc.)
- They’re each dedicated to a single product, service, or store location
Remember that consistency is key
Every page on your website should have a consistent and identifiable look. If each page looks like it corresponds to a different brand, the purpose of the site as a whole can be difficult to understand. It can also impact your perceived professionalism.
When planning your website design, consider creating a style guide so you are able to keep track of the aspects that should stay consistent. Having these guidelines available in one place will also make it easier to outsource some elements of web design without impacting that consistency.
Color schemes, fonts, writing style, and branded images are all things to take into account when designing your website and creating its style guide.
Use simple fonts that reflect your branding
While on the topic of consistent branding, it’s important to discuss the importance of picking out the right fonts. Whatever you choose, make sure they’re simple and readable, without impacting your brand image.
Sans serif fonts are generally more readable on a computer screen and are also a clean and casual choice. Serif fonts, on the other hand, are generally perceived to be more professional, as is reflected by their use in standardized style guides like MLA.
If you would like more advice on choosing the right fonts for your website, take a look at Looka’s round-up of popular font trends for 2021. Geometric and expressive sans serif fonts, as well as character serif options, are set to be big this year.
It’s also worth noting that different fonts can give off a very different feel depending on the color you’ve chosen. So, it’s a good idea to look at how your top font choices look in all of your brand colors before coming to a decision.
Add interactive elements that enhance the shopping experience
Interactive elements are also becoming more and more important in web design. These help to personalize the shopping experience and make products and services more accessible than before, especially in cases where all interactions have to happen online.
Some elements that can help improve just about any website include quizzes, calculators, specially designed search forms, and virtual try-on features. Here are some examples of how to incorporate them.
Utires, an online tire vendor, allows users to shop tire models quickly and easily. To buy used tires online, interested visitors only have to input their desired width, aspect, and rim (where applicable) in order to receive a variety of tailored results.
Companies that deal with finances or utilize a complex pricing scale could benefit from a calculator feature. This is a great tactic for any business that uses a calculation as one step of their customer interaction.
SPDLoad has a handful of great calculators that they use for pricing reasons. Their thorough project calculator lets visitors get a reliable quote even before they decide to use the service. This can help to put prospective clients at ease and gives them a sense of control.
Virtual try-on features have been popularized by retailers of clothing and accessories, too. For example, glasses vendor Zenni Optical makes use of this feature to sell their frames online.
This type of system can also work well with jewelry, clothing, nail polish, and even less conventional “try-on” industries like interior designers or furniture stores.
Interactive elements help simplify the shopping experience, as well as give your organization a tangible asset that places you ahead of your competitors in consumer experience and industry expertise.
Keep your design simple so your customers don’t get distracted
While we’ve made a variety of complex design suggestions, don’t get so bogged down in the possibilities that you overcomplicate your website in the process.
The best and most effective websites make their purpose clear and their products or services immediately accessible.
You don’t want to have so much interesting content that your visitors forget why they came to your website in the first place (unless, of course, your goal is purely to entertain or inform).
If you find that your web pages are too busy, reconsider what the main point of each is supposed to be. You can divide multiple topics into their own separate pages, or take out excess information if it detracts from the point.
Also, don’t overwhelm your viewers visually. Using too many colors or CTAs, for example, can frustrate or confuse visitors, so it’s best to pick a neutral standard format for your website, using flashier features sparingly, and only for emphasis.
Once you have designed your website to perfection, don’t forget that it will need continued maintenance and upkeep to stay competitive. The goalposts are moving all of the time, so you need to ensure you’re continually assessing and tweaking your website to keep it on track.
When first designing your website, though, you want to put your brand purpose first. Make good UX your primary goal. Choose a simple overall design, but pick interesting colors and fonts that reflect your brand image. When selecting photos, present the human element, and show your target customers content that they can relate to. Build interactive features and clear CTAs into your website structure, and make sure that your design choices stay consistent across the board.
For more help with web development, SPDLoad provides a phenomenal service that can help you out with all of these aspects and more.