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What are the key factors of good web design?

Matt Campbell | Web Design

As this article is about the effectiveness of good web design, we won’t be talking too much about what design is. However, in the interest of giving a little context – we will touch on it briefly.

What Is Web Design?

In a nutshell, it is the process of creating a blueprint for both how a website will visually appear on the internet and how a visitor will interact and navigate through the content.

Web design goes beyond just making a site pretty. The design team need to first consider how the user is going to absorb the information you’re trying to relay. Then, they use the user interface to break up the content into easy to digest chunks of information. This stops the user being overwhelmed and gets the key information to the user as quickly as possible.

So…on to what constitutes good web design and how this feeds into producing a winning website. Let’s break it down into the three key components a web designer needs to consider when considering a new website design. These are:

  • The user’s experience
  • Content promotion
  • Search engine ranking

User Experience

The number 1 priority of a web designer is to produce a design that serves to make your visitors’ time on the site a pleasure. This is what user experience is all about. Can the user find what they’re looking for easily and quickly? Frustrating users using your website is only going to do one thing. That’s make them leave and find a competitor’s site. One that doesn’t leave them tearing their hair out and ultimately, you’ve lost a potential customer.

Good user experience is defined by two key metrics. Can a user find the information they’re seeking quickly? Once they’ve found the content they want, can they absorb that content’s message in a clear and concise manner?

When designing a page, it’s very tempting to go all out on making something visually stunning but what can happen is the content can be lost in the design. Visual design is there to support the content and highlight what you consider an important item the user needs to pay particular attention to. A good example of this is a call to action.

A call to action that slides onto the screen, flips around and then flashes at you may seem like a call to action that a user can’t help but pay attention to. Sadly, this is a misconception. Instead, the user takes in all the animation and then moves on, missing the important message that’s housed in the call to action.

A more effective call to action would be one that uses a different sized font, perhaps a different colour, and with a button or link. It might even sit on it’s own background colour or have a border around it. All these elements signify to the user that this is a bit of the page we want you to pay particular attention to. With the button there, we’re also telling the user we want you to perform an action. In this case, click the button and go to the page we’re encouraging you towards.

Good Web Design Promotes Content

So what do we mean when we talk about content promotion? In simple terms, it’s deciding what is the most important content on the page. After that, it’s deciding what supports this content. We need to examine what is the purpose of this page we’re designing? Is it a product page where a user is to make a purchase? Is it a sales funnel page where we want to generate an enquiry?

Once the objective of the page is identified, then we can look at what’s required to reach it. The web designer’s job is to identify the answer to a simple question – what does the person looking at this page need to know for them to make the decision we want them to make?

Once that question has been asked, suddenly it is clear what content needs priority and how the page should be arranged. Let’s think about a product page. What are the most important elements on this page? Is it the social media sharing links? No. What about related products? Also no. The key components of this page are:

  • The name of the product
  • The product images
  • Description about the product
  • The price and a button to buy it

As we know, every page is split into two main areas. Above the fold and below the fold. This describes the part of the page you see before needing to scroll and what comes when you do scroll. The above the fold region of any page is the most valuable part of the page. It is here that we are always looking to place the content that we believe is the most important. It’s the content that a user should be able to form a decision from without needing to look at anything else.

A designer’s job is to form a design that houses the above list of critical content. The remainder of the page is to support the 4 key content points with the likes of reviews, related products, product specifications and other associated useful information.

Search Engine Ranking

The final part of why good web design is important pertains to promoting the site via search engines. Google, and other search engines, have very advanced analytical tools for examining a website’s relevance to search queries. Google has over 200 points that it ranks websites on, design being part of that.

A site’s that designed with no headings or minimal content areas isn’t going to tick the boxes it needs to with Google to rank well. Web designers need to understand what elements Google are looking for and how they impact on the site’s search engine ranking.

This information then needs factoring in to the design of the website so the content can then do its job and promote your company, product or service.

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