When it comes to web design, image is everything.
OK, maybe not everything, but it’s hard to deny that your web design interface is a critical part of your online presence. It’s tempting to imagine our audience as enlightened individuals who value the content we provide above all else, but let’s not kid ourselves—an unattractive and overly complex website is enough to repel even the staunchest of your supporters.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few compositional tricks of the trade to help make your web design a little more attractive and user-friendly:
1. The Positives of Negative Space
Your white space (or negative space, as it’s sometimes called) is a unique part of your web design that designers love and site owners love to hate. Anything on your page unrelated to your text, graphics, and content falls under the umbrella of negative space. The question of how to handle white space is somewhat inflammatory—business owners often think of it as dead space in valuable page real estate, but designers see value in it for that very reason.
Think of your white space as a supporting buffer for your content. White space can make your text easier to read by creating a better visual balance for your material, and it also contributes to better legibility and scannability. It can also be a useful way to position your brand—generous negative space is often correlated with elegance and professionalism. Better white space management is one of the best ways to draw focus to your content and guide your reader’s eye across the page.
2. Composition 101
And speaking of guiding your reader’s eyes…
You have optimized the composition of your page, haven’t you? This area is where the artistry of design and the science of web development intersect, and it’s part of the reason why so many informative and insightful websites never get seen. Many stylistic choices fall into this category:
- Colors: Less is more when it comes to color. Clashing colors look garish and unappealing; stick to complementary tones that mesh well together and visual styles that support the identity of your brand (cool tones are relaxed, warmer tones are inviting, and so on).
- Headings: Headers draw the eye of your readers and help telegraph the primary points of your content for better scannability. Use these liberally in wordy pieces to break up your blocky chunks of text, improve readability, and score a little SEO value all in one move.
- Graphics: Our brains transmit visual data far faster than text, so the inclusion of a couple of relevant images can help balance the text-rich portions of your site and provide a different avenue to get your information across.
3. To Scroll Or Not to Scroll?
When optimizing your website’s design, it’s important to view your changes through the perspective of your users.
“The fold” is another hotly debated concept in the design world. (The web design world is a very controversial place, evidently.) The fold relates to how much content is shown during the initial page load. Anything your users see when first visiting is “above the fold,” and anything users must scroll down to see is “below the fold.”
So should your CTA, subscription forms, and other data collection outlets fall above or below the page fold? Common logic dictates that it should stay above, as the best conversion rates can be found from easily accessed data entry. On the other hand, viewers who scroll will, by nature, be more engaged than those who don’t—making the debate a true matter of preference.
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes to understand where your content will have the most impact.
4. Brand Experience
Web design isn’t just about how your site looks; your web design choices also guide the user experience.
While visitors are free to visit any area of your site they like, your deliberate design choices can influence where they go and what actions they take. This generally involves a combination of leading the viewer’s eyes with stylistic design choices in conjunction with interactive menus and clickable options that help direct them where you want them to go.
This should be applied with your brand identity in mind—websites with a sales or marketing focus will need to predict their user’s behaviors and provide enough engagement to make them click through your CTA with the goal of more conversions down the line. On the other hand, sites such as Buzzfeed who prioritize audience sharing and user interaction may perform better with interfaces that direct users to their most popular or most shared postings.
Learn the priorities of your market to help you understand what design options will give them a positive experience that’s unique to your brand.