With thousands of themes, templates and plugins available for use, you can create a responsive website within a few minutes, even if you have no coding knowledge.
However, owning a website isn’t enough to make an impact, especially if you’re running an eCommerce business. You need to attract traffic and keep visitors engaged. And with countless websites competing for people’s attention, standing out can be a challenge.
If you want to elevate the look and feel of your website, you need to follow best practices for web design. In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of a good web design. Then, we’ll reveal various web design best practices to implement in 2023.
Benefits of following web design best practices
With myriad competitors in the digital landscape, following website design best practices isn’t just a choice. It’s paramount to your success. Here’s why:
By implementing website design best practices, you can effectively communicate your brand’s personality, messaging and values to your audience. In other words, it helps you develop a strong brand identity that aligns with your goals and resonates with potential customers.
Roughly 88% of consumers patronize only brands they trust. This highlights the need to build trust with your audience. Following web design best practices ensures you create a strong identity that differentiates your brand from competitors, making it easier for customers to trust you.
A website that follows the principles of good web design encourages visitors to complete a specific action, such as filling out a form, requesting a demo or buying a product. This process is known as conversion rate optimization (CRO).
Visitors are more likely to become customers when your website is responsive, engaging and intuitive. Adhering to web design best practices enables you to create a superior experience for website visitors, ultimately increasing conversion rates.
When you follow website design best practices, you’ll create an accessible and responsive design that encourages visitors to take the desired action. This signals search engines (e.g., Google) that your website is valuable to your audience.
Search engine algorithms use a variety of performance metrics (e.g., bounce rate, accessibility, click-through rate and mobile responsiveness) to analyze a website’s relevance. By following best practices for web design, your website will meet these performance standards, ultimately increasing its search visibility.
Web design best practices checklist
As the internet evolves, your website must adapt to new trends if you want to stay relevant in your niche. Below is a checklist of the most important website design best practices to implement for more conversions.
Easy navigation is a key element of a good website. Visitors should be able to quickly find what they’re looking for. They’ll probably go elsewhere if your website’s navigation is complicated, and this increases bounce rates.
Simplify your website’s navigation by sticking to the essentials. Don’t include too many options in your menu. Otherwise, visitors may not find what they need and may get frustrated.
You can use a horizontal menu to display your website’s most important pages, such as the About, Pricing, Features and Contact pages. If you want to link to more pages, consider using a drop-down menu.
Here are additional ways to simplify your website’s navigation and ensure usability:
- Turn your calls to action (CTAs) into buttons.
- Use breadcrumbs so users can keep track of their location on your website.
- Use short, concise menu titles.
- Order menu items by importance.
By following these tips, you’ll make your website more navigable, encouraging visitors to spend more time exploring your content.
2. Design for accessibility
In the United States alone, there are more than 40 million people with a disability. So, you’ll reach a vast audience if you make your website accessible to everyone, including people with limitations such as visual impairment, cognitive disabilities or hearing loss.
For instance, visually impaired people can’t use a mouse to explore your website. To get around this, ensure your website is keyboard-accessible. And if you have images on your website, write descriptive alternative texts, commonly known as alt texts.
When a visually impaired user accesses your webpages using a screen reader, the software reads your alt texts aloud, giving the user a description of the image he can’t see.
Below are some essential guidelines to take note of:
- To minimize the risk of inducing seizures, avoid including any content that flashes more than three times in a second.
- Each page should have a descriptive title.
- When creating a clickable link, use descriptive text that clearly communicates its intended purpose.
Designing your website for accessibility doesn’t only increase your reach. It also improves your search engine rankings because Google prioritizes user-friendly websites that deliver a superior online experience.
The total number of mobile users worldwide is predicted to rise by 219 million between 2024 and 2028. So, if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you risk alienating a large number of smartphone users.
Here’s something else to consider: 76% of U.S. adults use smartphones to make online purchases. By creating mobile-friendly websites, you’ll massively improve your reach, boost conversions and improve user experience.
Google also favors mobile-optimized websites — it predominantly uses a site’s mobile version for indexing and ranking. So, optimizing your website for mobile devices positively impacts your search engine rankings as well.
Here are a few ways to optimize your website for mobile devices:
- Use a responsive layout that adjusts to any screen size.
- Add a search bar to make your website accessible and user-friendly.
- Use font sizes that can easily be read on a small screen without requiring the user to zoom in.
- Incorporate a hamburger menu to make your website more navigable.
Just like search engines, users also enjoy mobile-friendly websites. So, optimizing your website for smartphones and other mobile devices is a web design best practice that never goes out of style.
Your branding enables people to recognize your business. That’s why it’s vital to incorporate consistent branding elements (e.g., logo, typography and color palette) all over your website.
Take Coca-Cola, for example. If you land on its website and see a green and white color scheme, you’ll immediately know that something is off because Coca-Cola’s signature colors are red, black and white.
To elevate your website, develop a strong and recognizable brand that establishes trust with your audience and differentiates you from the competition. One way to do this is by determining the personality traits that best describe your brand. Once you choose a specific personality, you’re ready to develop a consistent brand across all sales and marketing channels.
Visual elements like images, videos, infographics or animations make your website more engaging to visitors. According to Orbitmedia, the number of visuals bloggers add to their blog posts is closely linked to how well these posts perform.
In fact, a video can increase the time your visitors spend on your website. Wistia found that people spent 1.4x more time on pages with videos than those without.
Plus, people are too busy to read through massive walls of text. A well-designed infographic can help you convey your point faster and more clearly than text alone.
In the screenshot below, Tenoverten uses visuals to break up blocks of text.
High-quality visuals are great, but if they slow down your website, visitors may not be patient enough to wait. Optimize your graphics by compressing them for faster website performance. With free tools like TinyPNG and Freemake Video Converter, you can compress images and videos without sacrificing quality.
Sure, incorporating visuals into your website can grab users’ attention. But if your content is difficult to read or understand, visitors will probably leave you for a competitor.
Readability may seem like a minor thing, but it has a significant impact on user experience, especially when you consider that people spend 5.59 seconds on written content before moving on.
Use an editing tool like Hemingway to test the readability of your content. It highlights common issues (e.g., passive voice, complex words and long sentences) and also provides recommendations on how to polish your writing.
Here are other ways to make your website readable:
- Break long sentences into short, easily digestible chunks.
- Use bullet points, subheadings and numbered lists to make your content scannable.
- Use bold texts to highlight important words or phrases.
- Choose a readable font color that contrasts nicely with the background color (e.g., white text on a black background).
7. Establish a visual hierarchy
A visual hierarchy organizes website elements based on the order in which a user should view them. You can also arrange these elements based on their importance.
When applied correctly, a visual hierarchy guides a user’s attention to the most important part of your webpage and pulls focus away from what isn’t as essential.
You can implement visual hierarchy in various ways. Here are a few best practices:
- Use whitespace to create negative space around important elements.
- Use large fonts and contrasting colors to highlight key elements.
- Break up long blocks of text with appealing graphics.
- Use visual cues (e.g., arrows) to draw the user’s attention to important content.
- Use prominent headlines at the top of each page.
- Arrange subheadings based on importance.
Font size, in particular, can help you establish a clear visual hierarchy because large fonts are more likely to capture attention.
In the example below, “One app to replace them all” will be read first due to the use of large fonts.
Here’s another example of visual hierarchy in action — contrasting colors are used to draw attention.
8. Optimize for search engines
Design your webpages with search engines in mind. This results in increased traffic and, ultimately, more conversions.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing strategy that involves building quality backlinks, using relevant keywords and optimizing metadata. If you’re running a WordPress website, there are various plugins you can use to boost your website’s ranking in search engines. Popular options include All in One SEO (AIOSEO) and Rank Math.
AIOSEO is trusted by over three million website owners worldwide. It provides a multitude of features (e.g., XML sitemaps and rich snippets schema) you can use to boost your website’s SEO rankings.
For users to complete an intended action, such as subscribing to your newsletter or making a purchase, you must design an effective CTA button. For your CTA to be effective, it must be bold, concise and captivating.
Here are some strategies to make your CTA stand out:
- Use contrasting colors.
- Place your CTA button in a strategic location.
- Use action words like “buy,” “download” and “subscribe.”
- Create a sense of urgency using phrases like “limited time offer” and “only a few left.”
In the screenshot below, Smartlook encourages conversions with two compelling CTAs.
Here’s what we like:
- The colored CTA buttons stand out from the background.
- The CTAs use action words (i.e., “get” and “try”) to drive action.
- The main navigation menu is clear and concise, so users can quickly find what they need.
- The CTA buttons get darker when you hover over them.
Before settling on a CTA button, determine its effectiveness by testing two or more variations. This way, you can analyze the performance of each variation and choose which performs better.
Fast page loading speed is crucial for the success of any website. In fact, for every second a site loads faster, the conversion rate goes up by 17%. Additionally, slow-loading landing pages are likely to earn a lower Google Ads Quality score, and this can hamper your marketing efforts.
A slow-loading website may be caused by:
- A slow server.
- Unoptimized visual assets.
- Lack of a content delivery network (CDN).
- Poor coding.
- Unnecessary plugins.
You can assess your website’s performance using tools like Pingdom, Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix. These tools employ different scoring methods, but they all provide valuable insights and recommendations on how to improve your website’s performance.
11. Add social icons to your website
We live in an era where social media has become an integral part of daily living, and businesses are taking notice. Social media advertising expenses are expected to reach $72.33 billion in the United States by the end of 2023.
This highlights the importance of social media in digital marketing. Including social icons is a vital part of the web design process. These icons will direct users to your social media pages, where they can learn more about your offerings and interact with you.
It’s worth noting that social icons are different from social sharing buttons. Social icons link to your brand’s social media pages and are typically found in the header and footer of your website.
On the other hand, social sharing buttons allow visitors to share your website content on their social media pages. These buttons are typically found underneath or beside a post.
Website development is an ongoing process — it doesn’t stop once you launch your site because there’s always room for improvement. That’s why you need to conduct A/B testing. Alternatively called split testing, A/B testing presents users with two different versions of a digital asset to help website owners determine which option converts better.
There are various elements you can test to drive conversions. For instance, changing the color and size of your CTA button can result in more clicks. You can also run A/B tests on your CTA copy, headlines, page layout and images.
It’s important to note that what works for one business may not work for another. While A/B testing can help you figure out what’s working and what’s not, it isn’t 100% accurate, as other factors may influence whether or not a user will convert.
By following the website design best practices provided in this guide, you can create a visually appealing website that drives conversions and elevates your brand. So, whether you’re just starting out or looking to redesign an existing website, keep these best practices in mind for optimal performance.
If you’re ready to take your website to the next level, consider web design services by Bluehost. Our team of professional web designers will build a mobile-optimized and SEO-friendly site tailored to your needs. That way, you can focus on growing your brand.