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10 Website Design Tips for Improving the Design of Your Website

Updated: Dec 8, 2023


 

woman typing at laptop on desk with notebook and pen beside the computer

Are you interested in building a website or refreshing an existing design? Here are ten tips on how to improve the design of your website.

  1. Have a plan

  2. Clear messaging and easy-to-read

  3. High-importance items should be above the fold

  4. Calls-to-Action

  5. Keep the design simple

  6. Navigation

  7. Avoid carousels

  8. Relevant images

  9. Social Icons

  10. Prioritize Mobile


Have a Plan for Your Website


Make sure that you have a clear plan for how you want users to interact with your site before diving in and developing the website. Understanding how a visitor will interact with your site from the first time they land on your page, what content are they going to read, and what call-to-actions you want them to interact with to turn them into a customer. This can help to understand how to start developing and building your site and save you time in the long run. People who don't have a plan find that they begin to develop the website and continually have to change items because it didn't make much sense for the visitor to take that next step in the process.


Clear messaging & easy to read


Designing a website that uses descriptive headlines allows visitors to know they have landed on the correct page and that they are probably going to find what they are looking for. A website should be well-written so that the text aligns with your business goals and fits the audience that you are targeting. The text also needs to be easy to read from the font type to the size to the color that is used. Having a design that looks trendy won’t matter if no one can read the content on the page.

  1. Pay attention to the colors that are being used

  2. Stay away from cursive fonts in the body copy

  3. Avoid small font sizes that will cause users to squint while reading the copy


Above-the-Fold Content on your Website


While there is no actual fold on a website, the “fold” refers to the area of the screen where users do not need to scroll down to see further content. Ensuring that the most engaging or important pieces of information you want users to see should be placed in the above-the-fold area. Because users today are used to scrolling through content on mobile phones this may become less of a problem for users to see content below the fold. While studies show that above-the-fold content does have an increase in the percentage that it is viewed versus below-the-fold content it can really depend on how your site is set up and the content displayed.


image of cathleen barnes consulting website showing an example of what above the fold content is for website design

Calls-to-action


Some great calls to action are "shop now", "add to cart", "contact us", "click here", etc. Make sure that your calls to action are clear and to the point instead of vague and abstract. However, there are debates about whether your call-to-action buttons should be above or below the fold. Some say that below-the-fold entices consumers to keep scrolling through the information whereas others think it is important to show this immediately. It is really going to depend on your preference on where you feel this is best positioned on your site.

call to action button examples for website design

If visitors have an understanding and knowledge of the product or service then placing the call-to-action button above the fold can be a good practice. But for visitors who are researching a product or service that are still uncertain why this may be beneficial to them then placing the call-to-action button below the fold would be better as more explanation is needed to help them determine if they want to take an action or not.




Simplistic Design


Designs that are too busy and have a lot going on will distract visitors from seeing the content that you want them to connect with. When you have too many animations or visuals with a lot of text and call-to-actions on them, this can confuse customers.


White space is also essential for a website. The white space or blank space between text and images provides a layout that clearly shows the content you want to capture the user’s attention. Effective use of white space allows for better readability and guides visitors to information that they want to find. If there is enough white space around images, text, and sections of the site this will allow for less distraction and increase conversions.


Website Navigation


Visitors coming to a web page want to be able to determine the purpose of a website in regard to its service or product offerings right away. Navigation and the layout of your site are key to how users will interact. The navigation of your website should be simple. The fewer options to choose from the better.


Keeping the navigation header to 7 items or fewer is a best practice. This will help not overwhelm visitors who are landing on your website and to lead them to the most important information. Try if possible to avoid using drop-down menus as well as only users who navigate that area of the site will see that content.



cathleen barnes consulting website navigation providing specific web navigation prompts


Avoid using carousels


While designers love using carousels on their web pages the problem with them is that visitors may only see the first slide and miss later slides. Consequently, they may miss the most important call-to-action you may like the user to take. Another reason why designers like using carousels are that they can get more content in a limited space. Because a carousel contains multiple images with text, more information is able to be shown above the fold. However, this is not always good if the user never sees all the content due to the rotation time of the banner.


homepage carousel banner example

Other options to use instead of a carousel are:

  1. Using a main featured image in a banner with a strong call to action. This should be the most important item that you want visitors to see and act upon.

  2. Stack the slides to that the visitors can see each content area by scrolling down the page. This ensures that consumers will not miss this piece of information if they continue to scroll through the page and may even perk their interest as more content becomes visible.


Website Images


image of cathleen barnes consulting website showing high quality images

Make sure to use high-quality images with good resolution on your website, but just don’t use any images. When choosing images to use ensure they are relevant to the content that is being talked about. If the image is irrelevant, users will ignore them. The goal of visuals is to capture visitors' attention and draw them in.


woman in black pants and black heels showcasing high quality images for website design

Social Media Icons


While social media is a popular way of doing business and can get visitors to interact with your company or brand in another way it ultimately isn’t the best practice to have these icons at the top of a website in the navigation. The reasoning behind not having social media icons at the top of the page is if someone clicks on one of these icons they will be taken off your website. The goal of your website should be to keep users on your site and try to convert them into a customer. If you want to have social media icons on your site, I would recommend putting them down toward the bottom of the page in the footer section.

example of social media icons in website footer design

Mobile Friendly


image of desktop and mobile design for cathleen barnes consulting website - shows mobile friendly design option

Technology has changed over the years and we now live in a society where people do not go anywhere without their mobile devices. Users expect to see the same content that would be seen on a desktop computer. They also want the ability to access a website from anywhere. Additionally, Google has started to penalize sites that are not mobile-optimized which is another reason why having a mobile-friendly site is so critical.




Now that you have a better idea of some design tips to help you focus on your own website it is time to try and apply them. It's one thing to read an article about what the best practices are, but it’s another thing when you try and apply these rules to your own website. Don’t become discouraged if you can’t accomplish all of these things at once and don’t be afraid to hire someone for some help. There are tons of people (even me) out there to help with web design.



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