Do you remember the first time you visited your favorite website?
What did you fall in love with?
Was it the beautiful font pairings or the bright images? Maybe it was their layout or how interactive their homepage was.
No matter what you love about the website, it made an impact on you. Chances are you’ve visited a few times since the first time you discovered it, too.
So what made this website so different from every other website on the web (all 1.5 billion of them)? That’s what I want to dive into today with this blog post.
Most likely, the website you’re thinking of not only has good design elements but has next-level great design attributes. As you begin planning your own website design, it might be helpful to take a step back and think about what makes a website great instead of just good.
Clear user journey
Creating a great user experience is the most important objective for any website designer. Sure, it’s nice to have a pretty website, but it needs to function just as well as it looks.
One of the best ways to see if you have a clear user journey for your audience is to visit your website as if you are a first time visitor and see if you can navigate your website easily.
It could also be helpful to ask in a Facebook group or another online community for people who haven’t visited your website before and get their feedback on your user journey. Their feedback will be invaluable when you are optimizing your website.
Bold visuals and imagery
If a website drops your jaw to the floor, it’s usually because the imagery is beyond beautiful. Don’t take my word for it! Think about your favorite websites. One of the reasons why you love them is probably because of their visual appeal.
Have you ever wondered why so many websites have a large image covering the full screen (what we call a “hero image” in web design) when you first visit? It’s because it captures the attention of your visitors!
If you’re looking for some examples, my portfolio is chock full of them. Here are two websites with hero images that are sure to make you swoon: Mishelle Lamarand Photography and Heather Payne Photography.
Don’t these rotating slideshow images make you want to keep scrolling through the homepage to see what else you’ll find? That’s exactly what they want you to do, which is what makes bold imagery and graphics so appealing.
You can also add headshots of yourself to your About page to build trust and create a distinct look with vector icons that make a statement. Get creative!
Consistent visual branding (color, fonts, etc.)
Along with brilliant imagery, you want your visual branding to match. Visual branding is so much more than just a logo. It’s all about choosing intentional stylistic elements like your branded color palette, typography, patterns, and more.
Great websites not only have stunning visual branding but it’s also consistent throughout every page of their site. If you use warm colors on one page but then transition to cool colors on another, there will be a disconnect for your audience.
I know, it can be so tempting to use every color in the rainbow and switch up your fonts every few weeks, but it’s more important to be cohesive. Don’t worry if you feel like it all looks super similar after a while – that’s the point!
Well written copy that stands out
Your website content is just as important as your website design. Try to imagine a website with only imagery and no words. It would be hard to determine what story the website was trying to tell, right?
Words are needed to guide visitors through a website. Design can enhance those words, but we need to be thoughtful about the copy we place on our websites. When your copywriting is created in tandem with your website design, it makes for a winning combination!
Ample white space/breathing room
Have you ever been a website where you felt uneasy about how crowded all the design elements were? This is usually because the design doesn’t have enough breathing room, which we often call “white space” in design.
The spacing of design elements is just as important as the elements themselves. Imagine if you just invested in hand-drawn illustrated icons only to put them so close together that it almost looks like they are overlapping. That would ruin the whole effect!
Instead, you want to make sure there is enough space in between graphics, images, and text so everything has a room to breathe. The result is a beautiful website that puts visitors at ease as they scroll through each page.
Optimized for SEO
You’ve probably heard about this term before, but what in the world is SEO? It seems like this mysterious thing that no one knows how to explain but yet everyone is afraid of how it will affect their website in the long run. I’ll break it down and put it into everyday human speak.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and it happens when you make strategic tweaks to your website in order to rank better in search engines. When you go to Google and type in “wedding planner near me”, who pops up first? This is determined by the website’s SEO.
It doesn’t matter if your website is pretty if no one can find it. If you feel like your website is getting lost in a sea of other wedding professionals, it might be time to outsource your website design to someone who designs for SEO and your brides.
Optimized user experience for both desktop and mobile devices
I’ll admit that designing for desktops is incredibly fun. You have a huge blank canvas to work with and so many possibilities, but not every visitor is coming to your website through a desktop screen.
It’s 2018 and let’s be honest, most of us browse the internet on our phones. This means that our websites need to optimized not only for desktops but also for mobile devices. It doesn’t matter if someone comes to your website on their iPhone, tablet, or laptop: it needs to look good and function well.
Did you know that mobile-friendly websites are so important that Google prioritizes them when deciding your ranking? Since so many of your potential clients are searching on Google, you’ll want to follow their recommendations so you can pop up near the top.
One of the biggest reasons why I design on the innovative ShowIt platform is because it gives you the option of designing a main desktop version and mobile version of your website. There are so many options for customization that make it easier than ever to get the look you want.
Now you can pick out good design vs. great design!
What are some of your favorite websites? What do you love about website design circa 2018? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!