16 Critical Elements of Great Website Design

16 Critical Elements of Great Website Design

Thanks to advanced technology, building a website today can be extremely simple. However, designing a website that marries impeccable functionality with stunning visuals is still challenging. It goes without saying that websites are now a fundamental part of a business’s online identity.

No business can hope to survive, let alone thrive, in today’s cutthroat market without an attractive, easy-to-navigate website. Far too many businesses fail at building a substantial online presence for their brand due to a subpar website.

So, why do some websites fail to attract and hold traffic where others succeed?

Certain elements of a website design contribute the most to building visitor interest in a website. Including these elements on your site gives it a beautiful visual appeal along with flawless functionality and authority. These are also the components that are most often botched during development.

Let’s take a closer look at 16 critical elements for building a great website.

Color Schemes

The color scheme of a website is seldom paid attention to when developing a website. However, you should know how important a role it plays in influencing a visitor’s behavior. Therefore, it’s important to use a color scheme that will best appeal to your visitors while also representing your brand well.

For instance, if you visit the fast-food giant McDonald’s website, you’ll be greeted with a color scheme that combines red, white, and yellow. These colors have been synonymous with the brand for ages.

We suggest first choosing the dominant color that best represents your brand. You can then choose an analogous color scheme that complements your dominant color choice to highlight certain sections of your site, like call-to-action (CTA) buttons.

White Space

Open any website today and you’ll find that a majority of these websites possess white space that divides certain sections of the webpages. These spaces lend an immaculate and accessible design to your site. They make the content or CTA buttons on your site easy to identify and read for visitors.

Some websites also use white space to give certain aspects of the site more emphasis than others. For instance, white space can be used to make certain “special deals” the focal point of a page.

Make sure you’re consistent in spacing the gaps between sections of your site. We recommend beginning with the navigation and then moving your attention to the content of your site. A grid-based layout can help you design a clean interface that maintains consistency across the entire page.

Easy Navigation

Sites that make it complicated for their visitors to navigate normally experience higher bounce rates.

As such, it’s imperative to facilitate simple navigation by giving users an easy-to-use and intuitive website. The website should offer users simple routes to navigate to certain fundamental aspects of a site, recommended pages, along with a way back to the original page.

Take a look at this quick navigation menu bar in Marks & Spencer’s website:

We suggest using parallax scrolling as a navigation system, which includes arrows that make a website’s user interface (UI) easy to interact with. Therefore, you must place a strong emphasis on simple navigation if you want visitors to spend more time on your site.

Distinct Typography

Using unique typography to present content on your site is an ideal way to distinguish yourself from other similar sites online. The fonts you ultimately choose should complement your brand while communicating its message to visitors. It’s also important to consider a font that makes your site look professional without appearing bland.

We suggest using a font size of at least 16 pixels to make your site’s content readable on mobile and desktop devices. You can use different but complementary fonts to highlight the headings and subheadings on the site. Finally, use contrasting color schemes to match your text with the background perfectly. Pairing darker tones with lighter colors will do the trick just fine.

Outstanding Visuals

This goes without saying, but certain visual cues on your site will give any website a distinct edge over similar websites online. Populating a webpage with high-resolution images and beautiful illustrations can make your site more compelling to visitors.

For example, take a look at this high-definition image from Hershey:

Of course, you can’t use just any random visuals on your site. They should align with what your brand stands for.

Use stunning banner images. You can populate your page with custom-made images, which can also be used to highlight certain key focal points of your site. Try to avoid using too many stock photos on your pages.

Site Usability

Aside from beautiful design, you also need to create a site that provides users with a satisfying user experience (UX). Most developers make the critical mistake of compromising a site’s usability in favor of its overall visual design. It’s imperative to optimize a site in order to facilitate smooth interaction between the site’s elements and visitors. A subpar UX design could result in your website’s bounce rate blowing through the roof.

You can enhance the user experience by using animations, readable and engaging content, simple navigation, and more interactive elements.

 

High-Quality Content

Having high-quality content is integral to optimizing search engine rankings for your site and thus generating more traffic to your site. It’s also absolutely essential to populate your site with quality content in order to keep your visitors engaged. Top-notch content that’s relevant to your brand can persuade visitors to spend more time on your site, explore other areas, or make a purchase.

We recommend dividing your content based on its relevance. Always keep relevant information about your website, product, or service at the top. Follow it up with content that explains your services or highlights features that set you apart from competitors.

Finally, use an FAQ section to answer questions that a visitor may have about your service.

Have a look at this FAQ page design from Shopify:

Compelling Calls to Action

A website exists to persuade a visitor to take certain actions on it. CTA buttons on a site trigger this response from visitors. As such, you need to place CTA buttons strategically throughout your site to persuade visitors to perform desirable actions on the webpage. The call-to-action messages themselves must be persuasive. They should explain what you want visitors to do in a few words.

“Buy Now,” “Sign up Free,” “Contact Us,” etc. are all examples of CTA buttons commonly used by most websites.

Make sure your landing page leads users to all the CTA buttons present on the page. You can utilize contrasting color schemes, content, and white spaces to highlight a CTA button.

Take a look at this CTA button used by Spotify:

If you have a variety of CTA buttons on your page, determine which type is more important and use it more prominently.

Mobile-Friendly Design

It is a well-known fact that the majority of websites receive most of their traffic from mobile users. With over 7 billion active smartphone users around the world today, not optimizing your site for mobile devices means losing out on such a massive audience. Suffice it to say, mobile optimization is one of the first things you need to do when building a website.

You need to utilize a custom web design that responds and adapts to various mobile screen sizes automatically.

We recommend using Google Search Console or other free tools like Pingdom or BrowserStack to check whether your site is mobile-friendly.

SEO-Friendly Elements

As you may know by now, search engines like Google take many aspects of a site’s user experience into consideration when ranking a site. As such, a developer needs to consider search engine optimization from the very beginning of a website’s design process. Elements like simple navigation, scannable text, loading speed, and mobile friendliness contribute to the overall user experience.

A problem with any of the above elements will result in a user having a poor experience with your site, eventually increasing its bounce rate. Google will take this high bounce as a sign of bad UX and ultimately plummet your site in search engine rankings.

It’s important to consider how each element will contribute to your site’s SEO. We suggest working with an SEO expert, who will monitor and assess all crucial elements of your site while it is in development.

Right Usage of Ads

You’ll find many websites online that have successfully monetized their websites by displaying ads on them. If used appropriately, display ads can be a great way to earn some revenue from your website. However, such advertisements – if used incorrectly – can aggravate your visitor’s user experience. In short, advertisements have the power to make or break your site.

As such, we discourage using too many ads on websites as it can harm the user experience. You don’t want your website to look unprofessional, which is exactly what will happen if your webpage is littered with ads.

The most effective way to advertise on a site, in our opinion, would be combining banner ads with affiliate marketing. Make sure your ads integrate organically with your site. They shouldn’t feel out of place and interfere with the content on your site.

Security

Online security should be an integral part of any website. Security and privacy have often been a major cause of concern for individuals surfing the web. Security alerts popping up when someone tries to open your site is a surefire way of turning potential website visitors away forever.

Internet security should be given as much focus as the design and overall functionality of your site. It should be mandatory for your website to implement an HTTPS protocol. This will help protect a user’s information, lend some much-needed credibility, and build trust among prospects. 

We suggest buying SSL certificates from reliable hosting service providers. These are cheap to acquire and can be integrated seamlessly with your site.

Integrating Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have billions of active users from all around the world. So it only makes sense to integrate social media into your site’s design plan. You should have social media buttons that instantly redirect your users to your site’s official social media channel. You can also have buttons that allow users to directly share certain content or products from your website on their private channels. 

Having social media buttons strategically placed on your website is a great way of indirectly marketing your site, opening doors for people to leap in directly onto your site from their respective social media profiles online. 

Adding Internal and External Links

A proper link-building strategy can prove to be a great way of enhancing the brand authority of your website. It is important to learn how to build internal and external links to help boost your website’s performance. For instance, you can direct users to certain content on your site and improve its SEO performance by using appropriate internal links.

Proper link-building research requires a good strategy. We suggest finding out how your competitor’s websites are employing their link-building strategy. Draw inspiration for sites that are using the strategy with productive results.

Comments Section

We’ve already stressed how important it is to make your site as interactive and engaging as possible. Aside from content, you can add a comments section to your site, which allows users to leave their two cents below a particular content or product information. This can be a great way to receive feedback, which can be used to improve your service.

If you are running an ecommerce store, we recommend adding a review section similar to what is found on sites like Amazon and eBay. A dedicated comments and review section will make your site more interactive and improve brand loyalty.

Achievements and Endorsements

This is perhaps the most effective and widely adopted way of building trust among customers. It is in your business’s best interest to flaunt your past achievements on your website for all to see. Displaying your achievements can go a long way towards building a solid reputation for your business and brand.

We recommend having a dedicated section for testimonials, displaying positive comments from at least 4 to 5 past clients.

We also suggest highlighting the names of all the popular brands you’ve served. If you’ve received endorsements from authoritative brands, add them to your site as well.

Final Thoughts

While these 16 elements can seem a bit overwhelming, they’re essential to building a website that not only looks fantastic but functions flawlessly as well.

Are you ready for the good news? You don’t have to do it on your own!

HighClick Media is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in professional website design. Our talented web designers will craft your business website with lots of TLC and plenty of technical prowess! We can build you a brand new website from scratch or spruce up your existing site.

Interested? Reach out to HighClick Media today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here. We’ll be glad to show you how we can help #elevateyourbrand with a world-class website for your business.

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Guest blogger Joseph Schneider is the Director of Marketing at Haitna, a digital marketing firm based in Texas.

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The Pros & Cons of Using Animation On Your Website

The Pros & Cons of Using Animation On Your Website

Incorporating elements of animation is a great way to make your website come to life. When properly implemented, quality animation can significantly enhance your site’s user experience as well as its overall effectiveness.

Animation in the right place at the right time has the power to capture a user’s attention, improve engagement, secure more conversions, and even increase sales.

That being said, animation also presents its share of challenges. For one thing, it’s easy to get carried away and add an excessive amount of animation. Even professional designers and developers have to toe the line between making the most of all that animation has to offer and creating a site that’s overwhelmed with too much activity.

Instead of attracting more visitors to your site, badly executed animation can actually alienate users. Animation that’s carelessly integrated into your design can create confusion, discord, and chaos for users.

If you’re thinking about including elements of animation on your business website, there are a few things you should take into consideration. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of using animation on your website.

PROS:

Animation Can Help Increase User Engagement

Adding animation to your website design is sure to grab a user’s attention more than just a static screen. Websites that not only function efficiently but look good as well are more likely to enjoy positive feedback and decreased bounce rates from users.

Animation Lends Authenticity and Legitimacy to Your Site

Online scammers don’t generally invest a lot of time or effort into a complex website design. When done well, animation not only indicates to users that your website is legitimate, it also positions your brand as a credible authority in your field.

Animation Enhances the Overall Design of Your Site

The right animation effects can breathe life into your website design, leaving a lasting impression with visitors. Couple an aesthetically pleasing design with interactive elements and you’ll further increase users’ interest in spending more time on your site.

CONS:

Animation Can Slow Page Loading Speeds

Since animation places a heavy load on website resources, it can cause slower load speeds for both individual pages and the site itself. Slow loading times can frustrate users, leading them to move on to other sites that have what they’re looking for but load much faster. Longer loading times can also negatively impact your rankings in Google search engine results.

Animation Can Distract from Your Business Goals

Having too many animated elements can annoy users and cause them to abandon your website without completing a purchase – regardless of what motivated them to visit in the first place. When inexpertly executed, web animation can also draw a user’s attention away from your core message. Instead of focusing on what products to buy, visitors may become overly distracted by the movement on the page.

Animation Might Not Always Improve User Experience

While animation may add to the visual appeal of your website, it doesn’t always enhance the user’s experience. Websites should be designed to function in a way that’s easy for visitors to use. Adding animation where it’s not needed can make a site harder to navigate and ultimately detract from the overall user experience.

Final Thoughts

Before determining whether animation is right for your website, consider the following questions:

  • What is its purpose?
  • Will it enhance or detract from the user experience?
  • How will it benefit users or add to your message?
  • Will it help guide your visitors in the right direction (e.g., making a purchase or booking an appointment)?
  • Will it slow your site down?
  • Can you execute it well?

When it comes to web animation, it’s best to exercise a less-is-more approach. You shouldn’t simply include animation whenever and wherever you want – its use must always be justified. By and large, web animation should always be integrated in ways that align with your broader business objectives.

So, should you use animation on your website? That, of course, is up to you to decide. Ultimately, it all boils down to the user experience you can and want to provide.

By heeding the advice above, it’s possible to incorporate elements of animation into your business website design that will allow you to reap all the benefits of the pros and none of the cons. To ensure maximum results, enlist the services of professional web designers and developers.

If you’re looking to give your business website a facelift (with or without the animation), HighClick Media can help! Reach out to us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here.

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How to Keep Your Business Competitive in the Marketplace

How To Keep Your Small Business Competitive In The Marketplace

Small business owners can take advantage of the latest technologies to help elevate their companies to the next level. While there are a variety of different marketing and advertising mediums to pursue, digital options can help narrow the playing field when it comes to competing with larger counterparts.

Website Design

If you’re a small business, entrepreneur, or independent contractor with some basic tech skills, you might be able to create your own simple website using an online builder which allows you to add your own text, photos, and contact information. While this is not an ideal solution, it’s still better than not having an online presence at all – and having a website can go a long way towards helping your customers find you.

However, if you’re really looking to make an impact, it is well worth the investment to hire a top-notch website designer. A professionally designed business website not only looks great but also has the capability to track data and provide an analytical breakdown of customer traffic – and this, in turn, can help you refine your messaging and strategy.

Social Media Presence

Social media is a “must-have” in today’s business world. Select the platforms best suited to reach your target demographic and come up with a strategy for regularly adding content and updates to ensure that you’re getting repeat traffic.

You’ll likely want to gather relevant images and/or documents to help develop your online presence. Converting file sizes so that they’re easier to send and use is beneficial in various ways. For example, when you convert a JPEG to a PDF you can retain the quality of the image while sending a smaller file. You can also merge multiple PDFs into one, limiting the number of attachments you have to provide.

Email Marketing

According to Rewind, an email marketing campaign is a cost-effective way to get in front of and stay in front of your target market. It’s also a great way to engage customers and to share news and information with collaborators and business associates – all while linking back to your website, product pages, or social media sites.

When it comes to creating compelling content for your email marketing campaigns, you’ll want copy that’s short and easy to read, contains lots of great images, and includes a call to action. This might involve encouraging recipients to take advantage of an upcoming sale, driving foot traffic through your doors, or getting people to subscribe to your blog. While you can set up a distribution list for email marketing, certain software products come equipped with features that make this process easier.

Other Web-Based Tools

Having a web-based or digitally focused strategy can go beyond advertising and marketing purposes. You may find that it’s beneficial to engage freelancers who work remotely or to utilize online software programs or platforms for things like accounting, bookkeeping, customer relationship management, streamlining the payment collection process, and even collaborating with vendors in terms of ordering and scheduling deliveries. In fact, Tech Radar says you can find apps that will help you keep pace with your competition – whether it’s via a scheduling calendar, a project management tool, or even a quick bill-pay app that saves you time and hassle.

The more digital, web-based, and online tools you can use for your small business, the better positioned you are to maximize every opportunity to get in front of your target audience. Take the time to carefully evaluate what you can do on your own and what it’s wise to hire out for – IT, web design and development, and even a social media consultation can all be worthwhile investments towards your enduring success.

Final Thoughts

As a full-service digital marketing agency, HighClick Media is eminently able to help your business compete in even the most crowded markets. Our team has extensive expertise in a wide range of areas, including brand development, logo design, website design, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), social media marketing, and more!

Call us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help you #elevateyourbrand!

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Guest blogger Cody McBride’s love for computers stems from high school when he built his own computer. Today he is a trained IT technician and knows how the inner workings of computers can be confusing to most. He is the creator of TechDeck.info where he offers easy-to-understand, tech-related advice and troubleshooting tips.

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Graphic Design in 2019: Fresh & Fearless

Graphic Design in 2019: Fresh & Fearless

Graphic design has always played a vital role in the communication between a successful brand and its audience. Keeping up with the trending concepts from year to year keeps you up-to-date on the freshest innovations. Ready or not, the last quarter of 2018 is in full swing, and we’re already anticipating what trends 2019 will bring when it comes to graphic design.

With the average consumer attention span declining right before our eyes, it is important that graphic designers possess the ability to adapt and engage through visual creativity.

People no longer want to see basic, run-of-the-mill or mundane graphics. They’re seeking a connection with visuals that effectively communicate with them. 

Here are some of our predicted graphic design trends for 2019 that will give your audience what they’re looking for.

Vivid, Dreamy Hues

Vibrant color combos and dreamy gradients have been a prominent trend this year, and this trend will undoubtedly carry over into the new year. We’re

anticipating these color trends to become even more lively and vivid, bringing a utopian feel to the overall design.

Gradients are making a bold comeback, radiating personality and demanding attention.

Using futuristic shades to create magnetic designs provides tons of room to experiment with your design. Futuristic shades and gradient are a match made in heaven.  

Minimalism

Sometimes, less really is more. Over the last few years, simplicity has been a focus for many graphic designers. Minimalism has been steadily gaining popularity, but 2019 will be its time to shine.

Clutter is super stressful, and complicated graphics + information overload can unnecessarily cause confusion. A minimalist approach to graphic design delivers a much-needed breather to the audience. Minimal designs are straightforward, and usually short and sweet, in how they convey a message.

Some think that minimal designs lack description and information. But sometimes the absence of description provokes curiosity, leaving the audience wanting to know more about the brand.

Simple, clean themes eliminate distractions from the core message.

Fearless Typography

Fonts are changing our perception. Google, Airbnb, and Lenovo showed us this.
– Elijah Cohen

A font is no longer simply responsible for conveying textual information. For 2019, it’s time to dive deeper. Fonts and lettering possess the ability to provide tone and style to the overall design and add character to your brand.

Fearless fonts are becoming a huge trend in itself. This year, typography has become bigger, fiercer and more powerful. 

The typography element of graphic design can be interestingly stylized, giving designers a lot of room for customization and creativity. However, while experimenting with typography, it is important to remember not to sacrifice your message for the sake of artistry. Your message to the target audience should still be readable, or the design may irritate the audience.

Negative Space

It’s a concept that’s been around for a while but remains mysterious and intriguing.

The vision is text and images surrounded by lots of space. Negative space allows for minimal texts and bold graphics to pop off the page, as there is digitally nothing else to look at. It allows your audience to easily digest your design and produces a calming effect. Subtle, yet powerfully direct, the negative space concept can take a good idea

When designed correctly, negative space can take a good idea to the next level.

Asymmetrical Balance

Up until this point, the typical layout of a website or brochure was pretty predictable. But in 2019, creativity in graphic design has no limits.

Asymmetrical designs are off-beat in the best way. Usually, these designs are off-center or created with an odd or mismatched number of diverse elements. By intentionally avoiding balance, the designer is free to be more expressive while provoking a wide range of emotions. Asymmetrical balance feels modern and full of energy.

This concept makes for more dynamic and compelling designs when implemented correctly.

What's Your Design Trend Prediction for 2019

With less than two months left in 2018, now is the time to think about your graphic design strategy for 2019. What are you planning to do to make an impact? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we’re here to help!

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