You’ve got a second — a blip — to make your first impression on the Internet. Online attention spans are razor-thin. If their eyeballs aren’t hooked from the very first glance, you’re lost.

 

Poor web design is like running your business from a tin shack. Customers might get the idea your company’s subpar. Maybe you just don’t care. They might even wonder if you’re still in business.

 

Whatever the case, it’s not a great look. The world definitely won’t see you as a trusted resource to solve problems.

 

Good web design sets the stage — makes it possible there will even be a show in the first place. Without it, your brand never achieves liftoff.

 

Beautiful web design delivers the web experience your customers crave. It showcases your business — leads them through an experience, a story that clearly demonstrates not just the how but the why of your business: your mission for existing in the first place.

What is Effective Web Design?

By definition, web design is the process of planning, conceiving, and laying out content for an audience on the Internet. 

But what’s the secret to great web design? How do you strategically design a lead-generation engine to drive your business?

Effective web design is more than just aesthetics — it’s functionality, efficiency, and usability. At its best, web design should be intuitive and instinctual: Everything needs to flow from the get-go. 

That requires strategy, insight, and design planning. You need to sit down and hash out the details. It’s not something you can do overnight. This project takes process: You’re building an online lead generation machine, the digital cornerstone of your business.

Effective Web Design

More Than Just Pretty — How to Get Results

Powerful web design doesn’t just look good. It efficiently functions to get results. It educates visitors about your product or service — and most importantly, it rings the sales bell like a golden tambourine.

To pull off a beautiful website that also functions cognitively, you need to understand psychology — how visitors react and think about design. User interface is the engine that powers user experience. It’s fueled by design. That’s why a well-thought-out user journey is so important.

Visual effects persuade and motivate emotion. This is based on space, clarity, and cleanness of vision: how your message is unconsciously delivered in the first few seconds of a glance.

Limit distractions with clean web design. Focus on images and text that are 100% relevant to the subject and mission of the page. Balance the amount of text and images to be clean and attractive. Alternate fonts in order to emphasize Calls-to-Actions (CTAs) strategically, not just for the sake of change.

Too much can overwhelm a visitor. To an extent, whitespace is your friend. But too little text or images can also be disengaging. Find the right balance to allow the page to breathe yet still captivate.

Designing the Users Journey

The organization of a website has one clear purpose: Help users navigate a complex set of information. It creates a succinct and intuitive journey that’s guided by menu options, links, and buttons. But effective hierarchy and instinctual navigation don’t just happen by chance. They’re the result of strategy built on careful user research and testing. 

This can take place in the form of user interviews or card sorting. Talk to test users about their expectations. How would they categorize the information? Lead with the most obvious. Don’t get too complicated. Simplicity is key to effective web design. 

Avoid extraneous information and functionality that can be distracting or confusing. Effective web design wins and fosters the trust of your visitors. It lands targeted actions like content downloads, purchases, or contact inquiries.

Journey in Web Design

Obvious Navigation: Don’t Get Lost!

Make sure your navigation is obvious and intuitive. Don’t make your user have to remember where a button is, or guess where to go next. Include several obvious options for the next step.

Buttons and menus are guideposts. Don’t hide them. Ensure the most important navigation options are available at all times — not just when you anticipate the user will need them. 

Be sure that clickable elements look obvious. Be wary of visual elements that look like buttons or links but aren’t clickable (such as underlined words without links or elements with rectangular backgrounds that aren’t actually buttons). This can confuse readers.

For Calls to Action (CTAs) — buttons that guide users towards a conversion goal — make sure they are large enough to attract attention, but not too large to overwhelm other important content. To test the effectiveness of your CTAs, try the 5-second test: Stare at a webpage for 5 seconds. Write down what you remember. Hopefully, the CTA makes the list.

Navigation in Web Design

Don’t let visitors get lost in lengthy pages. Throughout their website experience, users need to maintain an obvious sense of navigation, ideally across multiple pathways. Long pages can make this difficult, especially if navigation bars lose visibility during scrolling. The perfect solution is the sticky menu that follows the visitor throughout the scrolling journey. This way, users maintain full control of their website experience. 

The Science of Scrolling Scannability

Face facts: A good deal of your users’ journey will be done in hyperdrive. Your visitors won’t just scroll through your site; they’ll scan it at the blur of the mouse. 

Great web design not only allows for scrolling — it encourages it with a format that can be easily scanned and understood at a glance. 

Set the right path for your visitor’s eyes to follow. This involves two natural scanning patterns: the F-shaped pattern and the Z-shaped pattern. An F-pattern works well for text-heavy pages, such as blogs, articles, and search results. For pages not text-oriented that focus on more visual elements like photos and graphics, the Z-pattern is the ticket.

These patterns were first popularized by the NNGroup eye-tracking study that recorded how over 200 users looked at thousands of web pages. Turns out, their main reading behavior proved surprisingly consistent across many different sites and tasks.

Scrollability in Web Design

F-Pattern in a Nutshell

The F in F-pattern stands for fast. Users tend to first read in horizontal movements across the upper part of the content area. This scanning movement forms the top part of the F. 

Next they’ll scan a vertical line down the left side of the screen as they look for points of interest in the beginning sentences of a paragraph. Once they’ve found a nugget, they dig in — forming the second horizontal line of the “F.” This second line is significantly shorter than the previous movement. 

And they’ll keep scanning down, digging in every time they find something interesting. 

“Prioritize the most and least important content on a page according to the order you want visitors to follow,” explains Nick Babich, Editor-in-chief of UX Planet. “Once you know what you want your users to see, you can place the most important content at the top to engage your visitors in the process of scanning/reading.”

What’s the most important area of a content block? The first two paragraphs — they’re your hook. So keep them near the top of the page. Start the paragraphs with enticing language, preferably keywords or content that entices the reader to want more.

  • Bullet points are your friend. (They look slick, right?)
  • Keep paragraphs short, succinct, and easily digestible. 
  • Cover only one core idea per paragraph.
  • Include CTAs at the left and front sides — where users begin and end horizontal scans.

Z-Pattern in a Nutshell

The Z-pattern traces the eye scroll a user makes as they scan the page: left to right, top to bottom. Readers first scan from the top left to the top right in a horizontal line. They next scroll to the left side of the page in a diagonal line. Finally, they scroll to the right again, forming the second horizontal line of the Z.

Z-pattern is for image-focused pages, not text-focused. It works best for simple designs that focus on a few key elements — one, two or three focus features work best.

Ask yourself:

  • What info do you want your visitor to focus on first?
  • What order do you want them to view the content?
  • What guided action do you want users to take?

Start to the right and work your way down, according to the shape of the Z in a zig-zag pattern. Keep the flow focused and scannable. Less is more. Focus on what you want to first communicate. In what order should the content flow?

Creating a Wireframe to Outline Your Site

Wireframe for Web Design

A wireframe is an outline or diagram of the information hierarchy to the design of a website. Using black and white diagrams, it outlines how the user will process the information on a site. If you’ve ever sketched how you want a web page to look like on a bar napkin, you’ve created a rough wireframe.

You can draw the wireframe out by hand, or you can use apps or tools to outline your site. Some of our favorite apps to create wireframes are UXPin, InVision, and Wireframe.cc

When creating a wireframe, keep in mind it’s a rough sketch — a work in progress. The wireframe is a bare bones map of an outline; you’re not creating a detailed drawing to hang on a wall in a museum. Don’t worry about colors. Don’t drown yourself in detail. Just figure out where it all has to go. And remember, nothing’s set in stone: You can always adjust or move visual elements along the way.

Ask yourself:

 

  • What’s the best way to organize content to support your user’s goals?
  • What information should be prominent — given priority? What’s the first message you want them to see?
  • What will users expect to see on certain areas of the page?
  • Where will you publish buttons or CTAs to guide the visitor’s journey?

Responsive Web Design

Not so long ago, web design focused on desk-top browsers — what you’d see on a computer screen. Today, web design needs to look beautiful everywhere, including on a tablet or a phone. Mobile devices make up roughly 50% of all Internet traffic today.

That’s why it’s so important your website looks great and works well on any device — a desktop, tablet, or smartphone. And that means having a responsive design that responds to any medium your visitor uses.

To achieve responsive design, you need to have a fluid grid, flexible text and images, and media queries. 

Responsive Web Design

Fortunately, most modern website builders, including WordPress, automatically include responsive design. If your website isn’t responsive, isn’t it time for an upgrade? You can’t afford to ignore a mobile audience.

What to Do Next

Now that you understand beautiful web design, how do you achieve it on your site?

First, you have to decide whether you’ll do this project in-house or if you’ll hire an outside web designer to do it for you. 

If you do it yourself, you’ll need someone who understands how to build websites and great design. Fortunately, you no longer need to know how to code to build a great site, though it helps. Publishing tools like WordPress, Joomla, or Wix can be used with no technical coding required.

If you hire an outside web designer, you’ll need a web design company that has experience building websites and can demonstrate they’ve done so effectively. Look at their work for other clients. Is it intuitive? Can you find your way around the site? Does it get their clients awesome results?

At Mango Bay, we’ve built successful websites since the ‘90s. We’ve helped our clients grow traffic and audiences to harness the web successfully. 

We like to start from the ground up — interview you about your company and ambitions. This is your website after all. Our creative process is a collaboration, though all we need from you really is a conversation. We’ll take care of the rest.

  • What makes your company tick? 
  • What questions are your salespeople routinely asked?
  • What are your goals and ambitions for this website?

We have web designers and copywriters ready to take your vision and craft it into reality. We’re good at what we do: We build online lead generation machines driven by beautiful web design.

The world is waiting. Are you ready to take the next step? Let’s talk!