Six Essential Elements of Effective Website Design

Nowadays, websites are fundamental tools for online marketing. As far as most audiences are concerned, a company with no online presence might as well not exist. It is therefore absolutely imperative, not only to have a website, but to have it stand out amongst its competitors with effective website design.

Functionality

First and foremost, a website must function as intended. If you are looking to build a new website, you must ask yourself: what will my users need to do once on this site? Will they need to log in to a private account? Will they need to purchase items? Will they want to learn more about the company, read a blog, book an appointment, fill out a form, subscribe for email updates or use a map feature? It is paramount to begin a website with a comprehensive foundation so that a designer can anticipate the user’s needs and plan accordingly. Having these conversations early on will help to avoid any band-aid solutions or unnecessary headaches in the future.

Navigability

If a user cannot find what they are looking for easily and quickly, they will lose interest within a matter of seconds and seek their information elsewhere. It is therefore of the utmost importance in website design that users are able to locate all essential information on all devices intuitively. They shouldn’t have to think about how to find something, rather, the site should guide them to what they are looking for.

Hierarchy

In a similar vein, in order to establish functional navigation, a hierarchy must be employed. This is important, not just in the way in which you organize content, but also the way in which you display it. Oftentimes, users scan and scroll through webpages extremely quickly, and it is therefore crucial that the right information pops. Additionally, it should ideally be actionable so that you’re always filtering people to different areas of your site. With each page, there should be a goal of where you want to point your audience next and what should stand out most. With these goals in mind, hierarchy is at its most effective.

Digestible Copy

You might then ask: what is the best way for my information to pop? The copy, particularly the headlines, must be short and concise. I would highly recommend trimming all unnecessary fat from any copy before putting it on a website. As mentioned previously, website users have incredibly short attention spans. You must therefore communicate the most vital information to them in very little time.

Supportive Imagery

Likewise, because of a user’s propensity to scroll, a website design must have dynamic and engaging imagery. However, it is also necessary that the imagery support and complement the copy. Not only must it be aesthetically pleasing, but it must also be contextually relevant to ensure that the user not be misled or confused. It is also critical that the imagery is optimized for the web. If it is too blurry or pixelated, it will show a lack of refinement and if the file is too large it will weigh down the site and slow the page load time.

Brand Consistency

Because a website is one of the first places that a person will look for more information, it is imperative that it accurately represent the brand. Not only must it be consistent across other marketing materials, but it must also be consistent throughout the site. For sites that are complex and have multiple page layouts, it is important to make sure that all of the design elements speak with the same voice.

These are just a few of the tips that I have discovered in the process of building some of R&J’s client websites. To see these elements at play, check out our creative work. Or if you want to talk about having R&J build a new site for you, feel free to email me. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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About Jenn Rothschild

Jenn is an integral part of the creative services offered at R&J Strategic Communications. She is the resident Senior Graphic Designer and creates everything from infographics to corporate branding systems to annual reports and websites. Additionally, she is involved in social media campaigns, website facelifts, and various other digital media projects. She enjoys embracing challenges and finding innovative, unique, and creative solutions.

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