If there’s one thing that business owners in today’s market know, it’s that the digital landscape changes quickly.
If you find yourself wondering…
- What happened to placing all of my important stuff “above the fold?”
- I thought people hated scrolling?
- Wasn’t it just yesterday that my website was brand new???
…you are not alone.
Web design trends change every few months as technology works its way into people’s lives in new and more integrated ways. But don’t let that scare you into hiring a full in-house creative web team to build you a new website every January, June, and September.
Trends may ebb and flow, but there are a few fundamental pillars of great websites that don’t change. Many businesses feel the need to chase after new tools, faster frameworks, and the latest bells and whistles. In reality, businesses can avoid costly, frequent optimizations and ensure their website’s success by focusing on three strategic elements: (1) customer-centered design, (2) clarity, and (3) consistency.
Keep reading to see how these factors impact your website and how you can use them to drive growth for your company.
Pillar #1: Customer-Centered Design
Every good business owner wants to put their customer’s needs ahead of their personal preferences and opinions. Despite these good intentions, however, many business owners often fail to design their company’s website from their customer’s point of view.
How many times have you landed on a website that spends 80% of its space talking about the company itself? How long it’s been in business, what its mission statement is, what its core values are… This approach to communicating with your customers will raise your bounce rates and lose sales.
People want to know how you are going to make their lives better. Period.
Do you make their job easier? Do you make them more confident? Give them back time? Help them make more money? Add value to their relationships? This is what they want to buy from you. Failure to understand what your visitors really want—and to subsequently message and design for that—is the number one reason we see websites fail.
A website is a tool meant to sell, whether it be a service, a product, or an idea. To sell successfully, you must view your web design objectively through the lens of the customer’s experience—as if the website itself is a product you are creating for your users.
Pillar #2: Clarity
Like any marketing piece, a great website must be clear in purpose and message. As Donald Miller of StoryBrand puts it:
“Within the first 5 seconds, a first-time visitor should be able to answer these three questions: What do you offer? How will it make my life better? What do I need to do to buy it?”
Achieving clarity is a combination of great messaging and stellar graphic design. A website shouldn’t be hard to use, slow to load, or confusing to the average user. When a website isn’t clear, visitors will bounce and won’t buy.
Cardinal sins in clarity include website designs that are so unique users can’t figure out how to navigate them. Or messaging that tries so hard to be clever that the user never understands what the company actually does.
Do these three things instead:
- Make your copy clear and concise.
- Create a flow that leads users straight to the actions they need to take to engage with your business.
- Build a consistent user interface (UI) system that makes it easy to understand and navigate the site.
Pillar #3: Consistency
Just how important is UI design? Important enough to land a spot as our third pillar.
Think about the elements of a book. You don’t read the page numbers or the running chapter titles on each page as if they are part of the text. Your brain categorizes that information into a “wayfinding box.” Other visual cues may signal to you that a new chapter is starting or that there’s a reference for more information.
In the same way, our brains are trained to recognize categories of information on a web page: a navigation menu, buttons to take you to new pages, hyperlinks, where sections start and end, to name a few.
To help users successfully move through a site and understand information, these elements need to be designed systematically across the entire site. When a website is consistent, our minds don’t have to think as hard to process information. The less time a user has to spend thinking about your website design, the more brainpower they can give to your message and product.
Tap into the customer’s point of view, keep language and design clear, and create a consistent, organized UI. Get these pillars right, and you’ll find that the foundations of your site—and consequently, your growth—will be able to withstand the changes in the digital landscape.
It doesn’t mean you’ll never have to update your website again, but you’ll be able to go longer between optimizations without compromising on effectiveness.