A website is an electronic brochure for your business, so it must convey a lot of information in a short time to visitors.
Just like the old print brochures piled into the racks at welcome centers and tourism offices, you are competing against many other similar companies, so you have to do everything you can to hang on to any visitors that end up on your site.
If you were doing a print brochure, would you make it all text? No, of course not, unless you are the legal department for a credit card company. Photos and graphics quickly convey a message to browsers that tell them what you are about and give them an indication of how you can help.
The visual appeal of your website can be improved by following some basic rules.
Keep your white space
Have you ever seen one of those houses where the owner has cluttered the yard with every decoration ever invented, making it look like an orphanage for wayward lawn ornaments? Don’t be the web equivalent of that house.
Just because your web page has a lot of space does not mean that it all needs to be filled. White space (or negative space) helps your design feel more open and approachable. Don’t overwhelm the viewer with lots of pictures and giant blocks of text.
Until recently, sites that required a lot of scrolling were frowned upon. But with new design templates, such as parallax, where the background image scrolls at a different speed than the foreground image, engaging layouts can be created that will entice the user to scroll.
But your layout should still be as concise as possible, and don’t use scrolling unless you really need to use it, as many users will look at what appears on the first screen and decide right then whether they want to know more or not. If you have a compelling reason to work a scrolling design into your site and can create something that engages the user, then by all means do it. But if you can convey your message in one page, keep it simple.
Composition and color
Your colors should reflect your brand and send a message about who you are. Stick to a few complementary colors that work well together and don’t create a visual distraction. The human eye can distinguish about 10 million colors, but we don’t need to see every one of them on your home page. Three colors is plenty.
Break your text into readable chunks using headlines and bullet points. People tend to scan web pages for what they are looking for, so make sure your site flows well between pictures, graphics and text. Use headline sized to help readers understand what is most important.
Like colors, stick to a single font family and a few headline sizes for all of your text. A good design does not mean that you used every option on the dropdown menu -- less really is more.
Adding visual appeal to create a more compelling web design is a must in today’s visually oriented society. People are used to seeing attractive designs that are easy to read and quickly convey information. By following the rules above, you can increase the effectiveness of your site and create better customer engagement, turning browsers into buyers.
For some additional inspiration, check out these award-winning websites.
Matt Beargie is the web developer at Emerge. If you have questions about how to make your website more visually appealing, contact him at MBeargie@EmergeInc.com.