What would you do if you walked into a store and smelled something horrible, saw flashing strobe lights, was literally mobbed by overbearing, commission-seeking salesmen and then couldn’t find anything you were looking for? Probably get the heck out of there as quickly as possible hoping you didn’t catch a cold, right? Well, landing on a poorly designed website can replicate some of those same feelings (complete with parting virus), especially if the consumer is a motivated buyer and you have competing businesses whose sites are well-designed.
The Difference Between a Good and Bad Web Design Experience for Visitors
The heart of the matter is this: web design is super-important to the functionality and overall appeal of your website. If your visitor doesn’t feel at home, if they are confused, if they feel attacked or threatened or can’t figure out why they are on the site, the “back” button is only one click away. Poor web design will lose you traffic for good—a first time visitor with a bad experience will not be coming back to give you another chance.
On the other hand, a website that is designed with the visitor in mind will keep them engaged and on the page, constantly moving down your sales funnel until they become a conversion (be it on the first visit or the tenth). Good web design is easy to navigate and on the eyes, putting the visitor in the mood to listen, learn, read, explore and ultimately, buy (or do whatever it is you want them to do there).
What Constitutes Good Web Design?
So, what is this “good web design” that seems to elude so many start-up sites (and even some that have been around – albeit not too successfully – for years)? Well, good web design focuses on a number of key points:
- The site should be clean and without distraction. Distractions or eyesores lead to friction, or the thing that prevents your visitor from converting. Having a lot of white space (i.e. space on the site with no content, creating attention to the content with the use of negative space) is important.
- The site should be easy to navigate, meaning the navigation bar should be across the top or down the side. It should be clear to the visitor that if they click on an area, they know where they are going and then are provided that content. For example, if they click on “About Us” and it takes them to your order form, that’s not good design.
- The color scheme should ideally match your brand or logo, but if it doesn’t, it should still be pleasant. Having a black background with white letters is hard on the eyes – the best color for content is still black lettering on a white background. Keep your borders as defining points, not distracting points.
- The loading time should be fast, between 3 to 5 seconds maximum. For every second extra your page takes to load, you are losing a percentage of your customers. Keep weighty content to a minimum and be sure your load times are balanced across all pages.
- On the back end, the coding should be high-quality, meaning no errors, broken links, orphan pages, etc. Always use CSS and modern coding programs on quality templates.
An example of good web design is simple to find: think about a website that you frequent often and love to be on. Chances are, it is designed properly which is why you keep going back. Bad web design is also pretty easy to find online – you will certainly know it as soon as you get there and start tapping the “back” button or X-ing out the screen.
Web Design FAQs
Q: Do you have to be a web designer to design a good website?
A: No, but it certainly helps. Unless you are fairly computer savvy and have a good eye for layout and color schemes, it’s probably a good idea to hire a web designer to create your site. If you would like to try your hand at it, look for a drag-and-drop website builder to create with, unless you already know how to code.
Q: How much does a good web designer cost?
A: This question is hard to answer because of the levels of talent needed for intricate websites cost more money while a run-of-the-mill web designer will charge less, something that is good if you need just a basic design. Expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand depending on your needs, scope and how customized you want the site. As with any skilled hire, you get what you pay for – do more research into what you actually want (e.g. templates vs. custom builds, etc.) and then price around.