One of the most common questions in web design is, what exactly makes a design great? There’s never going to be a straight answer about what’s perfect, but we can at least talk about what looks clean and professional – and how it correlates into SEO and overall User Experience.
Before we get into the specifics, let’s talk about design on a broad spectrum. It starts with a blank canvas, often referred to as “negative space”. The negative space makes up the areas, margins, and visual alignment of objects on your canvas. This gives you the “layout”, where the designer determines object and text placement based on the conversion goals of the webpage.
If you spend enough time looking at websites, you start to see layout similarities in different types of sites such as restaurants, retailers, clothing stores, job boards, and so on. This is because of science. But what exactly does the science tell us?
Now in 2018, minimalism and clean aesthetics do more than make your brand look professional. The most important factor to consider when designing a site, or even just layout placements, is User Experience. I can go on for days talking about how web design is where it is today, but let’s just keep it to the single aspect of consumer psychology in today’s society.
By 1996, most companies began to understand the impact that the internet would have on their business, however, the psychology of this didn’t start to reach consumers until about 2002. During this time, the new era of “Web 2.0” came to rise, which directly increased overall internet users and time spent online. In essence, this simple pattern lead to more businesses establishing a digital presence through multiple channels such as websites, email marketing, and especially social media. Everyone wants to be where the party is. With the saturation, however, came an underlying “ethical” revision of web design, development, marketing and ways to present your business to a consumer digitally without being invasive or annoying/spammy.
Let’s discuss: Spam
At this point, most “frequent internet users” began to understand what “spam” looks like versus what a clean, professional website looks like. What deterred users the most was excessive use of recycled stock images, unnecessary content, excessive ads and things that were too “salesy” and “in your face”. Some of these tactics may have worked in different channels of advertising 20 plus years ago, but that’s no longer the case. It’s not even just real users anymore. Indexers / Search Engines like Google and Bing can now analyze entire sites based on their design, code, content, and search relevancy to determine the overall quality of your website.
I wont use any real examples out of respect, but take the spam away and what do you have? A clean, simple, yet beautiful website.
With the understanding of “clean and simple” out of the way, let’s discuss the actual design aspect.
One of the most important factors to consider when designing a website for your brand, is consistency. If your brand colors are primarily white and blue, don’t start to throw green and purple into rotation without reason. Great designers apply this methodology to everything including colors, images, and font types, to content and overall attitude of your website. If you’re a fun start-up company appealing to a younger audience, don’t use stock images of a bunch of executives in suits.
To be continued…