Each year, businesses spend millions of dollars updating their websites with new colors, layouts, icons and backgrounds. Designers, developers and experts sit in meetings. Conference calls drag on for hours. Emails and messages fly back and forth. All while companies fret about their online presence. But there’s a dirty secret among web designers…
A visitor doesn’t care what your website looks like.
By Chris David
A visitor to your company website doesn’t care about the colors or design or layout. A visitor doesn’t care that you have the latest icons and stylesheet features. In fact, no one cares what your website looks like (as long as the design isn’t too atrocious).
Take a look at the most popular websites in the world. Facebook, eBay, Google, YouTube and Wikipedia all have extremely basic designs. White background, with black text. In design terms, some of the web’s most popular sites look like crap. But visitors go to these sites looking for products and services and information. And the sites get the job done, with minimal design fluff.
These sites understand their audience and don’t waste time with anything else.
What do your web visitors care about?
Customers are coming to your website because they want some piece of information, about you or your company services. What are your hours? What are your prices? Where can they book an appointment or make a reservation? If you have products for sale, are the details and specs listed clearly? What about large, high quality images for your products?
This is what your customers care about. So the most important part of web design should be getting your visitors to the information they want as efficiently as possible.
Efficiency equals happy customers. And repeat visitors.
So now that I’ve convinced you that the design of your website is not so important, what is important? How do we ensure that your customers have the best experience on your website, get the information they need and come back as repeat visitors?
Make your website…
Speed is the number one factor that determines a visitor experience. Too slow? Visitors won’t wait more than a second for a page to load before they click that ‘back’ button. In fact, speed is so important that Google uses it as a main factor in ranking websites. So skip the fancy fluff, sliders and full screen background images. Focus on optimizing your site to be as fast as possible.
Your website must be functional. Buttons and links must work as intended. Menus, breadcrumbs and pages should be logical and easy to navigate. Images must load correctly, along with titles and alternate text. Features should be discoverable, without the visitor having to guess, hover the mouse, swipe or long press on buttons.
Your colors and theme should be consistent across the website. Don’t try anything too crazy or too fancy. Underline your links, and use a standard color for text. Use a consistent color for buttons that have the same or similar function. Is there a time to break consistency? Yes. Break consistency only when you want to draw the user’s attention to an area, such as a “buy now” button.
Ensure that all the information on your company website is relevant and useful. Don’t make the visitor struggle to find details such as your address, phone or contact info. Potential customers want to see large, high quality images for your products and detailed descriptions for your services. Don’t bury your prices on a sub page. Make all information regarding your products/services front and center.
There is a place for “beautiful” web design. We’ve all seen sites that make us say, “Wow.” But for your company website, keep it simple. Keep it fast and functional, with consistent design and useful content.
Have any other tips for improving the visitor experience to your website? Let us know below.