It’s not just about pretty pictures.
Many people assume that the visual appearance of a website is the most important aspect of site design. However, a website is no longer just a glorified brochure. It is a business system. One that is likely to be the first point of contact with the majority of your prospects. One that is often the main source of new client acquisition.
Website design is more than colors, images and layout. It encompasses the entire user experience.
You can have a website that is both visually appealing and functional. However, it’s important to remember that the main point of creating a website is not to impress people with fancy visuals. It is to build a working system that helps your business or organization meet its goals. An effective website has a clear purpose, is easy for visitors to use, and is optimized so that content is easily digested by both humans and search engines.
An effective website is both attractive and functional. However, when visuals are the main focus at the beginning of a website design project, what is often neglected are conversations about the website’s purpose, target audience, functionality and measures of success.
What do your website visitors really want?
The reality is that when a site visitor is looking for a specific piece of info or take some action on your site, they only care about the visual appearance insofar as it helps or hinders them from whatever task they are trying to perform.
Contrary to what many web designers may have you believe, the visual appearance of your website is not as important as its structure and content. That is, if having an effective website — one that helps your business grow — is the desired outcome. Brochures are not assets. A working business system is an asset. An effective website is an asset.
Look at google.com, for example. It will not be winning any design awards. But it’s the most valuable web property. It works extremely well at what it is designed to do. It plays its part in a business system that unquestionably works.
Starting points for good visual design:
For a website that’s going to do something positive for you, be it create clients or prospects, sell products, provide info, or whatever your main goals are, the visual foundation for success is based on just a few principles, including the following starting points: Clean pages that utilize white space and are free of too many visual elements that compete with each other for attention. Simple and intuitive navigation that is implemented consistently on every page so that people know how to orient themselves within the site.
We want to present information in a way that your site visitors can easily digest. We also want to present information in a way that the search engines can easily digest, because they are likely to be the main source of traffic to your site.
Developing the proper structure and content at the beginning of the process allows for lots of flexibility with the visual design later — from simple and sophisticated to colorful and flamboyant. But the reality is that the visual appearance of your website doesn’t matter as much to your visitors as it does to you. What matters to your visitors is how you can help them.