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A Web Designers Guide to Design – What You Know, and What You Don’t

In the age of digital marketing, web design has taken on a new importance, combining traditional values such as navigability and presentation with elements intended to support areas such as search engine optimisation. A web designers job is to keep up to date with all the common tricks and trends of web design.

As web designers will tell you, they never stop learning in this field. But before we get onto what you might not know about web design, let’s go through some essentials which you are likely to be familiar with, but should never forget.

What you know about web design:

1. Logo

Choosing an impactful logo can be crucial to your branding aspirations, regardless of if you are designing for a commercial, public or non profit organisation. Logos should be feature prominently in web design. Web designers will place emphasis on your logo on the internet. After all, the logo’s job is to be the most visually memorable part of your business. The design process places a great deal of importance on logos, and rightly so. Branding and image is the first step of web design, as many web designers will tell you.

2. Keep it simple

Swathes of detail can result in a confusing user experience, so, as a general rule, websites should be clear and concise rather than stuffed full of content. Just look at the most successful websites, such as Facebook or Amazon. These websites spend a great deal of time improving user experience and design. They are both rather simple in terms of design, however studies show this has led to a higher ease of use and user satisfaction.

3. Limit your fonts

Any more than two fonts is risking making your site look out of sync and unattractive. Changes to font size should reflect the importance of the messaging. As many web designers will tell you, fonts can make or break the website. Font usage must be consistent to fit the theme of the website and to avoid confusion. When selecting a font, make sure that it is fit for purpose. There is little reason to pick a fancy font at the risk of it being harder to read. Fonts show be a clear type to improve the overall experience for the user. If it doubt, keep it simple. Google fonts is a great go to for selecting web fonts. There you will find a whole range of popular web fonts as well as statistics on their usage.

4. Logical layout

If you want a site to be easily navigable, forget about trying to be clever with layouts. Make menus prominent and easily accessed, and include a site map. A good rule of thumb is to look at the design of popular websites. Conduct your own case studies and find common trends regarding web design. You should find that many popular websites all share the same attribute – simplicity. You can overdo it on design and potentially harm search rankings as well as user experience. Website navigation should be hassle free and require limited thinking. In general, website visitors have a low attention span, therefore you should make the experience as easy as possible.

Those are four elements of web design you are likely to have knowledge of – now let’s look at what you might not be aware of in the web design world:

1. Effect of load times on SEO

Did you know that your site’s load times can actually effect its search engine ranking? Google is believed to factor load time into its algorithm, making responsiveness a key facet of web design. Many web designers are unaware of this, which is why cheap web design and hosting can lead to disaster. It is best practice to reduce load time as much as possible. This includes cleaning code, compressing images, reducing server load among many other tactics.

2. Visual cues can direct visitors

If you want to push your visitors towards certain areas of a web page, visual cues might be the way to go. They can be subtle – for instance, one study found that adults are naturally drawn to the faces of infants due to parental instinct. Web designers will use visual cues to help flow traffic on a website.

3. Sometimes content is the issue, not design

Web design should not have to carry the can every time a site under performs. Studies have shown that a large share of web users are prone to scanning the page rather than honing in on the content itself. This could be a problem with a lack of engagement – i.e. not enough meat on the bones in terms of interesting articles, videos or audio. Web design can only take you so far. Content is also very important for obtaining organic search rankings. This is something that most web designers overlook. By not optimising pages with high quality content, you could be sabotaging your own website. If content writing is not your strong point, you can always hire a professional.

4. On WordPress, automation can be key

Return on investment from a WordPress site can be achieved through making the most of automation through a range of plug-ins. For example, there are now plug-ins which allow you to translate your website into a range of languages. Email automation is also important for engaging with potential customers. Email integrations such as Mailchimp is easy to setup and can generate your website extra income.

5. Unique can be overrated

Depending on the type of product, service or organisation a site is representing, it is a misconception that a web design needs to be something breathtaking, out of the ordinary or wacky. On the contrary, logical web design which creates a familiar user experience can also be a winner, utilising what is referred to as ‘conventional wisdom’. Web designers are able to create a whole range of designs, however as mentioned previously – the simplest websites are the most successful.