Attractive But Useful Website Design
It’s time to talk about how your website looks – and evaluate whether how it looks does what you need it to. Web design is important, but you need to remember that it’s not just about how it looks—it’s about how it works. You want your site to look good, sure, but you also want it to be useful.
A beautiful site that’s impossible to use is a waste.
Think about design maintenance.
Just like we talked about your site being easy to maintain, you need to make sure your design is easy to maintain and update as well. If you’re using WordPress, this will mean you want a theme that’s flexible and easy to change. Not all themes are created equal. So you’ll want to do your research. You might want to pay for a quality theme instead of relying on a free one. You might even hire someone to design a custom theme for your site. Just make sure it’s easy to tweak.
You may want to change photos or add a banner somewhere or modify the size of text, for example. There are any number of design changes you might want to make down the road and the more flexible your design is the easier you’ll be able to make those changes. That means less frustration and a more happy you. That’s the path that leads to an effective website.
Fit your brand.
One of the most important things to consider is a design that matches your brand. The visual elements of your site will communicate a lot about who you are and what you’re offering. You need to be sure the visual matches reality. The design doesn’t just look good, it helps communicate who you are.
If you’re a straight-laced, by the numbers kind of company, a grunge font and graffiti look is not going to fit at all. It’s a total mismatch. If you’re a fun and carefree company, a rigid, dark design isn’t going to work either. You want everything to work together to communicate a singular message about who you are. Don’t be afraid to let who you are shine through in your brand and design. You may want to keep a check on how wacky you let your site get, but be authentically you.
Plan and organize.
Much of your website’s design will come down to organization. How do you arrange the information and divide it up into pages? How do users navigate your site to find what they’re looking for? You need to organize your information in a way that makes sense—not just to you, but to your users.
A common mistake companies make is to model their website structure on their company structure.
Big mistake. Nobody cares how your company is organized and it likely wouldn’t make sense to your customer anyway. Divisions between marketing, research and production mean nothing. Think like your ideal customer and organize your site from their perspective. What are they looking for? How would they think to find it? In what order or sequence would they tend to search for information on your site?
A well organized site and the easy maintenance we talked about before go hand in hand. Can you easily add new pages without breaking your site’s structure? Are you using drop downs that easily add those new menu items and create a simple, easy to use navigation? Let’s hope so.
An effective design will also give priority to what’s important (and that means what’s important to your customers, not you). Be sure you’re putting the important things where people will see them easily and naturally. Upper right and upper left portions of the site are key spots the eyes go to.
Also, don’t bury your important content on a secondary page. Find a way to put it on the homepage, or at least use a teaser to get people to take notice, then lead them to the rest of the important content. A good site design will use highlights and features to draw attention and give a sense of priority.
Sometimes that hierarchy of information is hard to determine when you’re too close. Step back and get the perspective of an outsider. Is your About page and picture of your headquarters really that important? Apple doesn’t even have an about page. Why not? Maybe instead of talking about themselves, they let their products and approach do it for them.
While you’re considering all these elements of a useful design, also remember your own strengths and weaknesses. Know yourself. If keeping your content current is going to be a problem, design the site with that in mind. If you love updating content and it drives sales, put it front and center. But if that’s a constant chore for you, minimize your news section (or don’t even include one).
This is perhaps the most important component of a useful design. If it doesn’t work for you, it’s not useful.
What happens if your site does not have an attractive, useful design?
You won’t like your own site, so you won’t keep it updated or tend to it the way you should.
Your site won’t produce the results you want or attract the ideal visitors and customers.
Visitors will be confused when they come to your site, which will make them leave to look for something less confusing.