Try this little exercise: pick any website at all and imagine it is real estate. And why shouldn't it be?
It is a place on the internet where people can come, maybe to visit and move on, maybe to stay and interact.
It is a place that has a distinct style, which can tell a story about the owners.
It is a place that has context and purpose: learning, having fun, doing shopping, producing something, conducting business.
We keep writing articles about making the web a more enjoyable place with better designs. Continuing the analogy, we want to live in a spacious and comfortable house, surrounded by neat streets with expressive, convenient buildings, loved by their tenants and visitors.
And here's one thing we've noticed about buildings. Since the 2020 lockdown got people staying inside way longer than they used to, many started enhancing their homes in ways big and small to accommodate for the new reality. Now that they had more involvement with one place, they had the urge to put effort here and there, fix longstanding issues, bring in improvements to build up the comfort.
Take a minute to think about your own or company website as of a place. If you get the feeling that it needs some care but you cannot afford to jump into a major renovation process, panic not. You can start with little changes that would contribute a lot to the overall experience. To help with that we gathered several ideas, each taking just a few hours to implement.
White space is a part of a screen view that doesn't contain details: text, images, patterns. It is on the left and right of this text and a bit between the paragraphs.
The spacious layout draws the focus to the remaining elements. If there were exactly 5 words I wanted you to read, what would give me a 100% chance: putting them into a paragraph of 12 sentences or centering these words alone with the image?
Supposing you are looking to improve readability (and reduce the percentage of people jumping off a website in a matter of seconds), you can start with breaking down huge chunks of text into smaller paragraphs and/or adding more space between the page elements. Simple is attractive. Allow the reader to focus on your message, it will increase the probability of conversion.
As Steve Krug points out in his book "Don't Make Me Think", readers are used to a certain structure of digital experience. They expect to find Contacts or Pricing info on the top, they assume that clicking on the logo would lead to the homepage – so don't let them down!
The website should not feel like an escape room. We advocate disrupting the design stereotypes, but that should never come at a cost for the end-user.
Take a look at the header, e.g. navigation bar. Are any crucial links missing? Does every tab work? Do you really need the dropdown for just two pages, or could they fit nicely into the existing header saving the visitor that extra click? Take care of offering essential tabs and buttons, not more, not less. And don't worry about placing order. The eye-tracking studies show practically no correlation between the order of header items and user experience.
In case you notice the text being styled with different fonts, you might consider using various font weights within one font instead. Switching to one font rather than having many brings a handful of benefits to the table:
Ready to treat your website visitors not as passersby but as welcome guests? Try to look at your content through their eyes.
76% of website visitors scan, not read. Psychology research by George Miller shows that generally, we remember up to seven pieces of information at one time (and doesn't even that little become tiresome sometimes?). The tactic is to unburden the reader and put the spotlight on the most essential and helpful information. Again, it's not about rewriting the whole website copy (though who could possibly stop you :D).
Just pick the features or offerings you want to be spotted right away, and make them the attention-grabbers with these concepts:
A serial-position effect states that an average person is most likely to remember the first and the last items from a list, skipping the ones in the middle. Similarly, web analytics report that the first slide on the carousel gets almost 90% of the clicks, while the rest of the options are mostly overlooked.
If you have a list or a scrollable slider, make sure that The Most Killing piece of information takes the first position.
People remember 65% of the imagery information. Basecamp reports conversions increased by sweet 102.5% after revamping their landing page from text blocks to a tagline and a photo of a person in the background.
Are you sure that 100% of visitors know the meaning of the words on this page? Granted, if you are working on sophisticated niche solutions they are not supposed to be explained for an average college kid. But putting yourself in the targeted audience's shoes might inspire a few edits that will make the copy clear and user-friendly.
CTA, a.k.a. the call to action button is vastly exploited in the form of "Subscribe now", "Read more", or "Contact us today", etc. The fact of "the call", however, doesn't guarantee the corresponding "action". Think of it: so many websites howling lonely in the wind.
Your visitors, your guests have to see a practical reason to make a click, follow the newsletter, fill in the contact form, or whatnot. Make that reason apparent, expanding the CTA to a meaningful and personal "Subscribe to get the latest updates in your inbox" or "Request a free demo".
If your website is a house, that makes Google search a hyper-informed neighbor-influencer. You sure want to get on their radar and attract more visitors, but assuming that the search engine knows everything and hence knows you would be a mistake. You'd need to become friends with Google.
A lasting relationship with search is built through meticulous website optimization, but there is an immediate shortcut, which installs better communication between the engine and you: metadata.
In layman's terms, metadata is a description of the content which is not visible to the reader but is shown to the people searching for related topics. It is exactly what you see after typing in any search request: link title and small text below inserted from the corresponding metadata fields.
If you didn't put in a specific description paragraph for your website page(s), the search engine will draw it automatically – and somewhat randomly, usually from the first sentences of your content. So why leave it to a chance?
When you want to get acquainted with a neighbor, you bring them a pie and introduce yourself. On the web it is the same, save the pie:
This very in-depth post from Frase shows a lot of examples of snippets automatically created from metadata. Ask yourself, "why this page on my website had to be created?". Write down that answer and what you want everyone to know about your business. Make sure it is about 160 symbols long for a standard meta description.
Polish the title – if the current page heading doesn't explain what is your business or how is it called, you might want to edit the meta title. And don't worry, none of this changes the page content for visitors.
If you are using WordPress or any other CMS you will find the metadata fields waiting to be filled in the admin dashboard. In case the website is coded from scratch, you will find many simple guides online on how to insert the metadata to your page header element.
A search engine does judge the book by its cover, meaning webpage by its visuals. Being primarily text-based though, it sees the pictures as the file names. This is why using an image called "PXL_78034912.png" makes your website appear rugged and coarse, while the same image called "westworld-bridal-suite.png" builds trust and understanding.
With the search, that is.
Go ahead and rename all the images so that their names describe the visual contents. Lowercase letters of the Latin alphabet, numbers, and hyphens are cool. Punctuation, spaces, underscore, and special characters are better to be avoided. And once you are finished, pride yourself for a bit, knowing that for every updated image you have just given Google an extra handshake.
Hopefully, this post provided some hints and/or inspired imaginative ideas to improve your website with a little effort but a long-term effect (and in case you want to dive deeper, check out the toolbox we have around on our blog).
Obviously, if you are looking for a more decisive overhaul, including massive layout, visuals, and messaging reconstruction, little fixes won't do it. These 5 case studies of web design projects show the benefits of a thoroughly crafted web design for business.
We sure love delivering shiny new branding and digital experiences to our customers, and yes, we do pat ourselves on the back each time when the concept design hits the bull's eye (well, at least our project manager does).
So if you are on the fence about modernizing your digital estate, maybe don't agonize over deciding right away. Share this article with your team, try implementing the suggestions above, or get on a non-binding meeting with dops.digital experts to talk about your needs. Love your website or get the website to love, it's your call.