There is a saying that you should never judge a book by its cover. However, most people do so anyways, albeit unconsciously. It’s the same with a website where the landing page is basically the equivalent of a book’s cover. This is why design matters, and a site inundated with plain text just won’t cut it. The design needs to be simple yet compelling to the eyes.
Why Web Design Matters More Than Ever in 2014
Too many businesses put content over design simply because images don’t contribute to improved search engine rankings. However, most experts agree that visually stunning images nested within high quality content can really add to the reader’s overall impression of the message the content is conveying. Hence, businesses should look at web design as a complement to written content rather than giving precedence to the latter and treating the former as a mere afterthought of secondary importance.
Why Simple is Better
A Google Study revealed that users consistently ranked websites that are “visually complex” as less beautiful than sites that utilized simple designs. The study also showed that users favored sites rich in prototypical designs – that is, images that are directly associated with a site’s niche.
How to Create Simple Web Designs That Represent Your Company
The secret is to create a prototypical website. This means using images strongly linked to your site’s subject, category or industry. Think of it this way: if one were to mention the word “furniture,” what would come to mind? Typical answers may include a chair, sofa, desk or dresser. Similarly, if the word “young child” is mentioned, mental images may include toy cars, dolls and princesses.
If you were creating an e-commerce retail store for tweens, for example, then think along the lines of “teen fashion” or “trendy fashions for teen girls.” What images come to mind? You may think of teen girls wearing the latest apparel and accessories and hanging out with their best friends with a smartphone in one hand and shopping bags in the other. These are the images that you should incorporate into your website.
The last thing you want is for a first-time visitor to your site to think to themselves “What do I do next?” Multiple calls to actions and too many icons in the navigation bar can distract the visitor and prevent him or her from focusing on your message, product or service.
What you should do is create a main navigation menu at the top of the page with a handful of “mission critical” icons and links. This includes links that take the visitor directly to the product or service page or to a content section where they can learn more about what it is you are trying to sell. Other links, such as those to your FAQ or “About Us” sections are secondary and can be included in a separate navigation menu located at the bottom.
Follow the 80-20 Rule
This means that 20% of what’s on a website accounts for 80% of the conversions. Focus on that 20% and minimize everything else as those are just distractions and fillers that take away from the beautiful simplicity of the site. That 20% typically includes images and text, such as your company logo, call to action, sign up box and testimonials.
Many businesses underestimate the power of simplicity. However, most web design firms understand the importance of this concept and the psychology behind why people gravitate towards sites that are visually simple yet crafty and artistic. Simplicity is not a new concept though it is one that will be relevant among web marketing circles for 2014.
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This article was written by Kinga Harskuti, a freelance writer currently working on behalf of ImageWorks Creative, a branding and web design firm.