They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” While the idea that the visual unattractiveness of a design says very little about the quality of the underlying content, the truth remains that humans can’t help but judge books by their covers. And internet users can’t help but judge your website by its design. This is why it’s essential to invest resources in the design of your website to ensure that it doesn’t belie the usefulness of your content and repel visitors as soon as they land on your site.
Whether you want to hire a designer/programmer for your website or intend to create the design on your own, here are six powerful features you can integrate in your design to give your site the best shot at pulling visitors into your content.
Use a splash header
When you want to direct your site visitors to a particular page on your website, a splash header can come in handy. It usually contains a visually attractive or thought provoking image, a welcome note, and links to certain pages on your site. Here are good examples of a splash header.
Create a useful footer
It's easy to imagine that, since the footer resides at the bottom of your website page, you don't have to pay much attention to it. But then wise website owners and bloggers who do their research know that a useful footer goes a long way.
Check Amazon’s website, for instance. Not only does the footer include (in an orderly and segmented fashion) a navigation displaying links to the important pages on the website; it also includes navigation links to Amazon sites for various countries and to Amazon’s other establishments.
According to Brendan Wilde, digital marketing expert and domain name analyst at Freeparking.co.nz, “A useful footer can serve as your visitors’ last resort when the rest of your website hasn’t helped them find the page they are looking for.”
A clear and catchy navigation
The job of your website’s navigation is to drive quality user experience, not to hamper it. It’s how your visitors are able to easily explore your site and find what they are looking for. Your navigation can, of course, be catchy, but your pursuit of visual appeal should not hinder clarity. The key is to find a balance. Make your navigation noticeable.
In addition, if your website consists of many pages, avoid cluttering your navigation with links to the pages. Instead, categorise the links and leverage dropdown menus.
Make it mobile friendly
In a world where the number of people that visit the internet on mobile has surpassed those who use desktop, mobile friendly websites enjoy a great advantage over those that haven’t been optimised for mobile. This is why it’s important to go for website designers who are also programmers. Optimise your website’s design for mobile devices and tap into the influx of traffic from the mobile internet.
Be minimalistic where possible
With so much competition online, the need to pay attention to your page load speed when designing your website has never been more important. For instance, a study shows that 25% of people leave a website if the page takes more than 4 seconds to load and 74% will abandon the site after five seconds of delay. Even Google ranks webpages based on loading speed.
You can improve your site speed by tweaking your design — optimising your site's images, using fewer widgets and plugins, minimising HTTP requests by merging multiple style sheets, reducing the number of scripts, streamlining your pages' elements, compressing your website files using Gzip, and so on.
All of the above-mentioned are aspects of your design. A good designer/programmer will know to manipulate them to favour page load speed. Aim for an average peak load time of 2 seconds.
Social media integration
The social media is where most people interact online these days. When you want to put your website out there, then you need to incorporate social media features, especially buttons that take visitors to your social media timelines or pages, ones that prompt them to follow you or your business on social media platforms, and ones with which your audience can share your content on social networking sites and thus bring in more traffic for you.
There are many other features that are worth considering when designing your website - an informative about page, an FAQ page, and even a contact page to start with. However, the six listed above will go a long way in getting your website to stand out.