As a creative, it’s very likely that you’ve worked on your fair share of websites. Maybe you have a favorite type of website that you like to design, or maybe you love them all. Not to add more pressure, but did you know that the websites that you design could easily make or break your client’s business?
Yes. Think of it this way: a website in the digital age is literally a business in its digital form, a flagship store with digital real-estate. This is the place that their potential clients and customers visit first before deciding to buy from them. A brand only has three to five seconds to make an impression with their online presence, and that website is first base.
For this blog, we’ve brought in Collins Bolinger, creative director and web design guru, to lay out the most important web design best practices that all designers and creatives should embrace in 2023.
With over 15 years of experience in visual design and web design, Collins was designing sites at a time when they were just a suggestion and not a must. As more and more brands embraced the digital age, he was part of the shift to the digital-first approach that we’re seeing now.
Let’s get into it.
High quality simplification.
There was a time when more was more. Back when websites could be sprawling and convoluted, with hundreds of web pages and hardly any creative vision (Craigslist). Now, we’re seeing a shift to less is more and we’re not mad about it.
Brands are embracing a cleaner aesthetic that takes users exactly where they want them to go. Instead of cluttering their home pages with company news and team highlights, they are realizing that only having a few key things highlighted is much more effective for getting their customers to their intended call to action.
For example, an ecommerce company or online store could use their homepage to highlight that collection that they’ve been marketing on social media. Another great thing for them to highlight would be the current sale that they are running with a visible call to action (shop the sale).
Remind your clients that, when it comes to web page design, it’s about the customer, not the site’s owner, and the visual elements need to represent that.
Ask them: “What do you think your customers want to see?”
Understand who you are designing for.
You design for clients in many different industries who have vastly different target markets, and may want different things out of their websites. B2B businesses may just want their prospect to book a demo call or download a webinar. B2C companies want their site visitors to shop their products.
This is why web design formulas and templates do not work across the board. In 2023, creative teams need to dig a little bit deeper to understand the company that they are designing for. That healthcare company isn’t going to want sterile blues and whites because that is what their competition is doing.
They might tell you that’s what they want, but it’s up to you as the designer to steer them in a different direction. Business owners might not realize how important it is to have a customer-first website. Sometimes the urge to design for stakeholders or investors makes them forget about their prospects.
One great thing to remember as you craft a brand’s visual identity is their target audience. You need to make that audience care, engage them long enough to get them to the call to action. The first question you need to answer is:
What will make their customer/prospect care? Why should they be interested?
Design with analytics in mind.
As designers, you probably don’t think all that much about data and analytics. This is where that should change. Ask your clients to share their website traffic information with you so that you can determine which pages on their site are the most visited, which ones have the highest bounce rates, and how long the average user spends on the site.
Why do you need to know this? Your design informs a potential customer’s browsing experience. If your client’s customers are visiting the shop more than the team pages, then that shop is what should be front and center.
Analytics can help you map out the site for your client, and help you determine which pages are unnecessary or not user friendly enough.
People live on their mobile devices. From social media, to audiobooks, to chatting with friends, so much of our lives happen on our cell phones. If a company chooses to ignore the importance of website interoperability between devices, they are shooting themselves in the foot.
If a client’s site isn’t responsive or mobile-friendly, they will get penalized by search engines. This is why we are seeing companies embrace a much simpler design and a cleaner aesthetic. The mobile revolution doesn’t just demand it, it has forced it.
The simpler and cleaner a site is, the more responsive the site will be. There’s a lot of cool things that can be done with graphics and layers that work really well on desktop, but they just don’t work on mobile.
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Web design do’s and don'ts for 2023.
Web design can be as fun as you make it. Having a great project manager, solid graphic designers, and a collaborative web developer helps ensure that you will.
Here are some simple do’s and don'ts to follow on your next web design or redesign project:
DO use sans serif typography. It’s very appealing to the eye, always clean, and will fit most industries.
DO highlight the client’s most important offerings on the home page. They will thank you when their conversion rates improve.
DO embrace motion graphics and animation (as long as it doesn’t hurt the UX design and page loads)
DON’T use vector people graphics; they are overused.
DON’T convolute the navigation bar. Keep it simple.
DON’T Design for your client. Design for their audience.