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There are so many website solutions available today.  From DIY template solutions to custom development, the options (and often price tags) seem limitless.  Believe it or not, as a digital agency offering website development, we actually have no issue with a lot of these easy to use solutions for businesses. (Even the some of the do-it-yourself solutions.) However, among all these different options, one thing remains the same.  That is, visual design matters.

We know that sometimes businesses are just starting out or maybe restructuring on a budget and need a quick, cost-effective solution to get the business online.  From our perspective, it’s definitely better to have an online presence than nothing at all, and sometimes baby steps are necessary.

This doesn’t mean we’re justifying bad design, though.  The visual design is incredibly important when it comes to a website.  Your website is a visual experience for a visitor, and the quality of design and functionality of a website has a direct impact on a visitors level of trust when it comes to a business, and can even have an impact on how well you rank in search engine results.

While it’s important to make sure you’re using a website service that meets a certain level of technical requirements, today we’re going to focus more on the importance of visual design.

Why Does Visual Design Matter?

  •  A bad first impression is hard to come back from.
  • Users remember a great experience and are more likely to come back.
  • If users are overwhelmed by too much information or have trouble navigating your site, they’re more likely to leave and seek answers elsewhere…most likely from your competitor.

So, what makes the difference between good and bad visual design?

Here are five things to watch out for:

1. Spacing

Poorly designed websites often have too many words in too small of a section.  It’s important to realize that when you’re writing content for web, it needs to be optimized for readability.  Users should be able to quickly scan a page to find what they’re looking for.  This can often be achieved by using title headings in smaller sections of a page.  Don’t overwhelm the user…they will leave,

2. Make It Visual

Using aesthetically pleasing elements on your website like quality photography or video can really improve the visitors experience.  The emphasis here is on quality.  The digital world we all engage in on a regular basis through social media and websites has become increasingly visual.  You can’t just add a few poorly lit cell phone photos to your site and expect to wow your visitor.  If you don’t have an eye for photography, you have some options though.  You can hire a professional photographer to capture your company culture, or explore stock photography options.

3. Cohesive Branding

Every aspect of your design should support your company brand.  That doesn’t just mean you should use the colors in your logo, it’s so much more.  Branding encompasses the way users perceive your brand.  This is reflected through your style of imagery, the tone and verbiage used in your content, and even in the details like typography.  This is why we encourage all startups and brands to go through the branding process.  By doing so, your company ends up with a set of guidelines that keep the brand representations cohesive across all channels of communication, including your website.

4. Guide the Visitor

Your website structure, and the links within each page, should guide your website visitor on a journey.  Devote some time and thought to how you want that journey to look.  What are the first things you need to say to a potential client or customer?  That’s what needs to be on your homepage.  From there, where do you want them to go?  Do need to tell them more on about your brand?  If so, guide them to your about page.  Do you need to tell them about what you do?  Guide them to your services page or section.

5. Build Confidence

Cultivating trust with the potential consumer visiting your website is crucial today.  We live in an age where users have to be concerned with the protection of their data and are always on guard to avoid identity theft.  All of the steps we’ve discussed up to this point help build that confidence, but there’s more you can do to build consumer trust.  A few ways you can build confidence include:

  • Be clear in your privacy policy and terms of service about what you do with the data you collect from users.
  • Keep your communication honest, be careful not to over-promise what you can do for a consumer.
  • Avoid colors and design combinations that leave visitors with an icky feeling about the level of professionalism your site presents.  If you don’t have an eye for design or aren’t working with a skilled designer, it’s better to keep things simple than to try to be an over-achiever.

Ultimately, no matter what platform or system you’re using to develop your site, you should put yourself in the shoes of your potential website visitor and see things through their eyes.  Imagine your site is the first interaction your company is having with an individual (because it often is) and ask yourself if you’re presenting your brand well.

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