What makes a great website?

Creating a good web design can be a deceptively difficult task for these reasons:

  • Web design has multiple elements, and each needs to balance and complement the others.
  • In every web design project, there is a tussle between usability and visual appeal.
  • A good website design is subjective. “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’, and the beholder is the end user in this context.

However, there are certain core principles you can use to design a great website.


1. Good Visual Design

A website has an excellent visual design when all of the separate design elements are cohesive, providing a consistent look without making it too cluttered or confusing to use. The site is simple in design, but it is still aesthetically pleasing and lets you quickly identify what’s important.

1.1. Theme or Layout of the website:

What are the steps in creating a good theme or layout?

First, plan a theme based on your website niche or product. Your layout should be consistent with your product or service. A news website will be very different from a software company’s website. Then keep these points in mind as you begin to create your designs.

  • Spacing: The usual tendency is to fill up all of the white space on any given page. In the context of a good website design, however, this is not appropriate. Spacing is one of the most powerful design aspects for a great site. It enhances the flow and readability of the content. To start, keep track of the spacing between all elements (for example, navigation bars and the images below it).

    Use of Spacing: Credits The Tea Factory
  • Logo: A well-designed logo is the brand identity of any business. Therefore, every website must have a logo placed prominently at the top of the page. It will maximize the chances of creating a lasting impression. DesignBold can help in creating your unique logo and brand identity.
  • Fonts: Do not search for unusual fonts. Stick with the following font types: Sans, Serif, and Display.
    • Start with a service such as Google Web Fonts, which is free, to incorporate a set of beautiful and exciting typefaces into your design without worrying about licensing costs or compatibility issues.

      Use of Bold Web Fonts: Credits: Jamhot
  • Colors: The key to using colors in a website is to keep it uniform and consistent. Similar to a logo, colors also form a part of your web identity. Choose a maximum of two colors and use them consistently.

Got2Web identified three types of color patterns that provide the best user experience.

Analogous Colors are often found in nature and are very pleasing to the eye. 

Complementary Colors are opposite to each other on the color wheel. When paired together, they create a bold contrast that might be effectively used to draw the audience’s attention. 

Monochromatic Colors are different values of a single color. These are a relatively safe choice and are easy on the eyes.

What not to do: Do not use too many colors in close proximity. Your audience will find this distracting and visually confusing.
  • Alignment: Design alignment refers to how you place similar elements relative to one another. A poor arrangement makes for a poorly designed website that can be distracting for the viewers. Ultimately, this would lead to increased bounce rate and lower conversions.

1.2. Mobile Responsive Website

Theme Credits: Joomlart

In its recent study, StoneTemple found that more than 50% of internet users access websites through mobile devices. Therefore, a site must be aligned appropriately irrespective of the specific screen size used. This feature is called responsive web design. Most modern design templates for WordPress and Joomla already have responsive design. If your website is not responsive by default, you will need to build a dedicated mobile site with custom extensions or plugins for your specific CMS.

Pro Tip: The easier and quicker way to create a website is to use pre-made design templates and install them in to open source CMS like WordPress or Joomla. Most of the pre-designed templates come with highly optimized designs (correct fonts, adequate spacing, and proper alignment). Moreover, the modern day pre-designed templates are mobile responsive. Therefore, it can save hours of brainstorming, discussions, and revisions required in the case of a hired designer. All you have to do is add images and texts to your website.

2. Content

As the saying goes, “content is king.” It is the main reason people visit your website. Moreover, if you are providing them with genuinely valuable content, they will be much more likely to return, subscribe to your newsletter and show their support on social media.

Creating quality website content requires well-planned efforts from an individual or a  team. For a start, you can follow the points mentioned in the article below on how to create shareable content that generates more traffic and social shares.


3. Navigation

Navigation bars are the signposts of your website. Therefore, the crucial factor is to keep the navigation simple to understand and maneuver. In a typical site, there are two navigation bars – on top and a footer at the bottom.

Here are some of the technical points to bear in mind regarding navigation bars on your website:

  • Realize that readers want three things from your website navigation: knowledge of where they are on the site, directions to reach relevant content and a way to return to the homepage.
  • It is wise to follow the three click rule regarding website navigation: users should always be able to find the information they are looking for within three clicks.

    Clear Navigation and Bold Fonts. Credits: ColorCubic
What not to do: Do not overload the navigation bars with too many options. Not only does it look bad, but it also intimidates the users.
The best possible way is to keep the menu items to a minimum. Also, in both the header and the footer, include these three pages – About us, Contact and Customer Testimonials. We will cover these in greater detail later on.

4. Call To Action / Visually appealing buttons

A compelling call to action has the potential to be a conversion powerhouse. Hence, most successful companies use an optimized CTA to significant effect in increasing their user base. Here are some examples.

Home Page CTA. Credits: Evernote
CTA at Website Base. Credits: Orbit Media

The primary goal of a website is to induce a desired response from the visitor.

  • Getting a lead from the user (in the form of registration or subscription)
  • Making a sale, either on a paid or trial basis (followed by payment on expiration)
  • Inviting the readers to share on social media

How to create a compelling Call to Action for your website?

  • First, decide on the type of call to action. The norm is to have two kinds.
    • Evergreen CTA that can be used throughout the year and in any section of the website
    • The second CTA is specific to individual events (like a new post, celebration or discount)
  • Emphasize a specific, focused action for the audience to take.
  • The background color and the click button should contrast each other. To quickly generate good looking buttons for your website you can use free online services like ButtonMaker or ButtonOptimizer.
  • Place the CTA in the most prominent zones of your website.
    • Top or the header section of the website
    • Bottom or footer section
    • Inline CTA within the main content
    • Exit intent CTA (which appears when the user is about to leave thewebpage)
Pro tip: The best way to get the maximum results from your CTA is to be unapologetic and obvious about it. Be straightforward. Plan and make an offer that users find too useful to ignore. However, also ensure that the CTA is relevant and has a clear purpose.

CTA or Website Buttons:

Click To Action
Inline CTA Buttons. Credits: CoSchedule

5. Professional Static Pages

A good website must have several pages exclusively dedicated to the brand. Those are the About Us, Contact and Customer Testimonials page.

About Us Page 

The About Us page should inform users of your story and vision. This page can also be used to display customer or user testimonials, success stories or the history of your business. An honest story about the company’s origins or founding could also make the company seem more personal and relatable.

For example, Joe Payton, a graphic designer portrays himself as a caricature in his “About Me” page. With his remarkable artistic skills, he makes the page more interesting and increases the chance of the viewers staying on the page.

About Me Page. Credits: Mr. Joe Payton
About Us Timeline
Timeline About Us Page. Credits: WpMedia

Contact Information Page:

A good website always has a dedicated Contact page. It demonstrates a willingness to stay in touch with your user base and adds a more accessible, friendly tone. A physical address and phone number, in addition to the standard email information, can also lend credibility to your product or service.

Contact us
Contact Us. Credits: Moz

6. Informational Footer

A website footer is a perfect place to share information about your business/blog with readers without being too intrusive.

What can you include in the footer? You can place links to any of the following.

  • About us
  • Contact
  • Blog
  • Product features
  • Terms of use
  • Privacy policy & other legal matters
  • FAQs
  • Pricing
  • Email subscription form
  • Social media profiles badges

In the picture below, SparkBox is using the footer zone for a dual purpose. First, it showcases the company links and social media icons. Second, it reinforces the image of an established company with a strong client base.

Footer
Footer page. Credits: SparkBox
Pro tip: The footer is at the bottom of the website and appears on every page. Readers usually scroll down to find more information about your company. So this should never be left empty.

7. Search Box

If your website has a wide variety of contents, it is practical to integrate a search function. For example, the search box below indexes all relevant results. This approach promotes convenience and saves your users valuable time.

Footer
Credits: Search Box

How to get a proper search box for your website:

  • Most website CMS platforms come with a default search widget. These are easy to place in the footer, header or sidebar.
  • Services like SearchIq provide additional options and may be a good alternative for websites that need more functionality or customization.

Pro Tip: If the site already has existing content, then you may use a search box. However, if you feel there aren’t enough posts yet, then it is better not to add a search box immediately. Instead, work on adding more high-quality content to your website.


8. High-quality original images

People prefer to see pictures and graphic designs over plain text. It is a well-documented observation. For example, WebDam (a ShutterStock venture) found that posts with well-designed images create 650% higher user engagement than posts with only plain text. Hence, it makes sense to invest the necessary time and money to produce high-quality images.

Pro tip: Do not take random images from the internet and paste it into your website, unless you are aware of the implications. Keep the following in mind.

  • There can be potential copyright violations.
  • It can make your website less unique. It is an issue with generic stock images, even if they are paid.

For a more comprehensive overview on using images correctly, see the article below.


9. How DesignBold makes your life easier

DesignBold makes it easy to create unique images to use on your site. Using the platform on a regular basis will keep your website unique and fresh.

  • Unlimited use of over 200,000 free stock images, vectors, and other design elements.
  • Accessible to every user including free subscribers. There is no limit on the number of images you can create and upload to your website or social media accounts. Besides, you also have unlimited storage and can upload your graphics.
  • DesignBold partners with 123RF, providing more than 40 Million stock photos. If you buy directly from 123RF, you have to pay around $1.5 or more per picture. With a pro or team subscription at DesignBold, you will get 20 to 100 premium downloads every month at no additional cost.

DesignBold

Along with all the stock images, vectors, and other design elements, DesignBold provides a fast and intuitive online image editor. It allows you to quickly add text, icons, vectors and amazing effects to your designs.

The online editor comes with over 7000 design templates covering every possible social media and website image requirement. You just need to choose a template, add stock images and other design elements from the DesignBold library. After you are done, simply download the final design.

creating original images

Social Media DesignBold Facebook 360 Design Layouts

In a matter of minutes, you will be ready with new and professional images for your website or social media accounts.

Pro tip: Using high-quality images for your website is great. However, excessively high resolutions can increase the loading time of your website. Therefore, always optimize your image size to balance quality and loading times. The article below has more information on this subject.


Conclusion:

The elements of an ideal website depend on many different factors, and there is no single right answer. Users are also dynamic, with shifting expectations and demands. However, the key points in this article should help you get started on a firm foundation.

Also, the DesignBold platform will save you valuable time and make the process significantly more comfortable. Best of all, using DesignBold, every stage of the design, editing and collaboration process can be done without leaving your web browser. There is no need to download any external software or strain your computer’s resources.

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