Fact: If your website is in a bad way when it comes to design and layout, you will lose visitors. During my search for a wedding photographer, I found that it was quite easy to dismiss potential photographers based solely on their website. In my mind a bad website meant bad photography, without actually looking at their galleries. But this must be true for most internet users. You’re more likely to stay on a good (rather, well designed) website than a bad one right?
Top tools for a visually engaging website:
Organising the content on your website should be your number one priority when it comes to web design. Cluttering is not a good idea because it can give off a feeling of chaos, as opposed to a feeling of professionalism, which is especially bad if your website is used for business. To play it safe, make use of white space (areas where there is no visual elements), to give your visitor a ‘resting place’ for their eyes. You’ll find resting place in margins and the space around objects – Pinterest is a good example of this – the nature of the website calls for it to be cluttered, but they still manage make up for resting place:
We might not be troubled by the 15 web-safe fonts to choose from, but that does not mean that Segoe Script is the font for your site. For a professional feeling throughout your website, stick with a Serif or San-serif font. The Serif fonts are used in deeply corporate settings, while San-serif fonts are more informal and modern, yet still safe enough to use for corporate websites. In addition to font, keep in mind the way in which your text is displayed – I’m talking about leading (space between lines) and kerning (space between letters). Large leading makes text appear light and easier to read, which is great if your website is text-heavy. For example, if your font size is 12pt, up your leading by 3pt to 15pt. Take a look at your kerning only after you’ve applied leading, this will give you a better idea on if you need to implement it or not. Furthermore, you can take a look at the spacing between your paragraphs, margins where images appear in text and even your font size.
It’s true that your website’s colours are dictated by the company’s logo or their brand manual, but if you’re designing for, let’s say a law firm, whose colours are red and gold, you can’t have a bright red and gold website – that would not look professional. This element focuses on the neutral colours which complement the brand colours while providing resting place. Colours also play a role in the psychology of web design, where different colours carry different underlying meanings. So for the law firm, white or black colour dominance will convey strength, professionalism and class.
The use of the tools mentioned above is driven by the nature of the website’s content, i.e. your design should not only inspire visitors to stay, but it should also help them find what they need in a quick and effortless manner. That being said, keep in mind that it is unwise to drown your website in content, filter through what you need and cast out redundant or useless information. As the web designer, you should be able to explain why you’ve placed certain element of the website in their places, with more than ‘it looks nice’. If you know why you’ve implemented a style on your website, then the psychology behind it is sure to work out.