Web design is so much more than an aesthetic element. It’s the critical driver of user experience and business success.
And it’s no longer an option. Potential customers now expect a high-quality website experience. When someone visits your website, you have only 2.6 seconds to capture their attention. With 38.5% of users leaving a website with a poor and outdated design, bad web design can lead to high bounce rates and missed opportunities.
Building an intuitive and responsive site is the key to leveraging those seconds and creating a lasting impression.
If you’re looking to reinforce your brand’s identity, we’ve got you covered. We've deep-dived into the 13 web design best practices that shape exceptional web design.
The Importance of Web Design in 2023
In 2023, internet users aren't hoping for these qualities; they expect them. And so, the emphasis on delivering seamless, intuitive, and engaging website experiences has never been more crucial.
Here’s what you need to know about web design in 2023:
- Effective web design is the key to fulfilling those expectations and directly contributes to user satisfaction, increased engagement, and conversions - all vital to business success.
- Web design isn’t just about looks. It involves a holistic approach incorporating usability, accessibility, visual appeal, and responsive design. These elements work together and deliver exceptional user experiences across different devices.
Web design is fundamental in building trust and enhancing a brand's reputation. For instance, RCCO, with its comprehensive suite of services, empowers businesses to establish a strong online presence and captivate their target audience. RCCO's expertise in web design enables companies to create engaging, effective, and memorable online experiences. It shows the power of web design in today's digital era.
Best Practices for Exceptional Websites
There are 200 million active websites worldwide, each competing for users' attention and engagement. To rise above the noise, you need to create a website that stands out in design, functionality, and user experience.
We’ve compiled a resource of the 13 best practices for websites to help you achieve this. While they are not rigid rules, they offer a framework to enhance a website's performance, user engagement, and overall success.
Prioritise User-Centric Web Design
When you put users at the forefront of design, you’re off to a good start in creating a successful website. Everything should be shaped around the user. You won't be there to explain how the website works to the user, so they should be able to consume it themselves.
Here are three things that will help you create a web design that meets the needs of your users:
- User research: You need to understand user behaviours, preferences, and pain points. It helps you guide the design process in a direction where the design becomes responsive to real user needs, not just design trends. This helps you create trust and loyalty with the target audience. You can host interviews and conduct desk research to understand the pain points and needs of a user, to better inform your website design.
- User personas: User personas are hypothetical, detailed profiles of target users that can guide the design process. They can help you understand specific needs and expectations, which makes the website more personalised and effective. This enables you to go beyond just demographics and get behind how a user thinks, behaves, and might act as they use your website experience.
- Usability and navigation: Prioritising a user-friendly user interface with intuitive navigation and seamless interactions enhances user satisfaction. It reduces the chance of user frustration. It is about finding the balance of design vs function, and referencing UX best practises to build an experience that is unique but follows familiar design patterns.
Using these principles, RCCO provides expert design and development services. Our user-centric approach helps us ensure that your website is aesthetically pleasing and effective in meeting your users' specific needs. Our priority is always to create a meaningful and engaging user experience.
Follow Design Conventions
There are tried-and-true methods in design that work well in helping users reach their goals. Every standard design rule used today started as a "new idea." Over time, users became familiar with these ideas and now expect them to function in a certain way.
This is called design conventions. They serve as time-tested guidelines that lead to effective, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing designs. They create an inherent understanding that allows users to navigate and interact with the website seamlessly.
A few examples of these design principles and conventions include:
- F-pattern and Z-pattern reading paths: These patterns mimic natural eye movements. They follow a predefined visual hierarchy.
- The hamburger icon for menus: A universal symbol understood by users, reducing confusion in navigation.
- Progressive disclosure: This technique presents only the necessary information. It reduces the cognitive load on the user.
Following these design conventions is key to improving usability and creating familiar user experiences. The inherent familiarity can reduce confusion, save time, and keep users on your site.
Staying updated with current design trends is essential, but there's a delicate balance to maintain. While innovation is exciting and often eye-catching, usability should always be the priority. After all, a website's primary goal is to facilitate users in obtaining the information they need.
Enhance Navigability and Usability
Navigability is how easily a user can get around a website. It includes all the features that let users move smoothly and naturally. It's closely tied to the user's experience on the website. So, it's something every website owner needs to keep making better.
This is where information architecture becomes pivotal. Logical information architecture is like a clear roadmap for a website. It guides users to where they want to go.
Here’s an example of logical information architecture for a museum website:
Along with information architecture, improving the search bar is another important aspect of enhancing usability. It should give accurate and related results, just like a helpful guide on the website. This can be super handy for users to find information quickly.
Make user interactions as straightforward as possible. Minimising clicks and simplifying complex processes can help you enhance the overall user experience.
Organise Information Hierarchy
Arranging information in a visual hierarchy is like creating a guide for users. For example, consider a news website: The most important news stories are put to the top, followed by less crucial ones. This way, users can immediately see what's most important.
Certain visual elements help you achieve an information hierarchy with ease:
- Using headings, subheadings, and bullet points helps break down content. It turns a big block of text into smaller, easier-to-read sections.
- Choices in typography and the right use of white space play a big role in making content easy to read. The right font makes reading comfortable, while white space keeps pages from looking too crowded.
When you use white space effectively, it delivers a clean look to the website, helps highlight key points, reduces visual clutter and increases comprehension.
Now, let’s see these website elements in action with the example of music streaming giant Spotify.
The heading "Play millions of songs and podcasts, for free" is at the top of the page and is large, so you see it first. It tells you what Spotify is all about. Then there's a "Get Spotify Free" button encouraging you to take action. After that, a lot of white space shows other perks you get when using Spotify.
Maintain Consistent Branding
Look at any expertly crafted website; you'll see a common theme: consistent fonts, colours, logos, and styles across all pages. This uniformity isn't just a design choice; it's the building block of a coherent brand strategy and its identity. And not to forget, it saves time during site creation as there’s no need to rethink aesthetics as you add each element.
A cohesive visual identity that resonates with the brand's values, tone, and target audience is significant. It's like giving your brand a voice and personality that people can connect with.
Take a look at Wild, for example.
RCCO helped shape WILD's impactful brand, emphasising its story-rich content with bold typography, dynamic images, and vivid yellow tones. Through videos and interactive design, WILD provides a visually engaging user experience demonstrating how consistent branding can enhance and reflect a company's services.
Consistency in branding elements like colours, typography, and imagery plays a big role in brand recognition and trust-building. It's like a familiar signature that users immediately identify and trust.
A smooth, uninterrupted transition between online and offline brand experiences is crucial for a consistent brand presence. It ensures that your brand retains its identity.
RCCO follows these fundamentals while providing branding services. We focus on maintaining consistency in your brand's visual identity across platforms to enhance recognition and trust among your target audience.
Engage Users with Visuals and Media
Our eyes help us understand the digital environment. And that's why media full of visuals, like high-quality photos and videos, can boost the success of written content and overall content marketing plans.
Visuals can convey information, stir emotions, and deliver brand messages effectively. They're like a universal language that communicates more than words ever can.
However, we also need to balance quality with site speed. Optimising file sizes and formats ensures fast loading times without sacrificing image quality.
Why is this important? Because any increase in your page load time due to oversized or poorly optimised files could lead to a drop in conversions. Every additional second that users wait for your page to load could mean lost opportunities.
Design Effective Calls to Action (CTAs)
Designing noticeable and enticing Calls to Action (CTAs) guides users towards what we want them to do.
To make a CTA stand out, you need action-oriented language and eye-catching visuals. Words that encourage action, like "Download now," "Start a free trial," or "Join us," push users to engage.
And when these words are paired with attention-grabbing visuals, your CTA becomes hard to ignore.
Let’s take the example of Ad-Lib, created by RCCO:
Here are a few key points to keep in mind:
- As users access the website, they immediately gain a clear understanding of its purpose and content.
- Users can play an explanatory video on the website for a deeper understanding.
- There are two call to action (CTA) buttons placed on the home page:
- Get Started: This button is meant to quickly onboard users to begin utilising the services or features of the website.
- Get a Demo: This button allows users to see a demonstration of the website's offerings. It helps them understand the benefits before committing.
CTAs aren't just catchy words or pretty buttons; their location also matters. Placing them in visible spots or at key points in the user journey can increase engagement. You might want a CTA at the end of a blog post ("Subscribe for more!") or on the homepage ("Start your free trial").
Having a responsive design is important too. It doesn't matter if someone uses a phone or a computer; we need our CTAs to be easy to click or tap. Because, let's face it - if a CTA is tricky to click, it's not doing its job, right?
Optimise for Mobile-Friendly Design
The rise of mobile devices is transforming the way we access the web. With mobiles accounting for 58.33% of global web traffic in Q1 2023, it's never been more important to ensure websites work well on different screen sizes.
Here's why mobile responsive website matters:
- Ease of use: Small screens require big thinking. A mobile-first design makes sure content is easy to read and navigation is user-friendly on smaller screens.
- Improved user engagement: A mobile-friendly site keeps mobile users engaged by providing a seamless browsing experience.
- Improved search engine ranking: Google gives preference to mobile-friendly websites in search results with mobile-first indexing. It helps you improve your website’s visibility.
Responsive images, fluid layouts, and flexible elements help you create a consistent user experience across devices.
- Responsive images adjust to the screen size to ensure clarity and save data on smaller devices.
- Fluid layouts scale smoothly between different screen sizes to help maintain readability and usability.
- Flexible elements like buttons and forms adjust to the device they are viewed on to make interactions easy and intuitive.
And that’s not all. You must thoroughly test your website across various browsers, operating systems, and devices to guarantee that it is fully responsive.
Implement Accessibility Best Practices
Accessibility refers to designing and developing websites that allow people with disabilities to perceive, navigate, interact with, and understand the content effectively.
When it comes to website design, accessibility can guarantee inclusive experiences for all users, including those with disabilities.
Following web accessibility guidelines, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to eliminate barriers that may hinder a user's access to information and services.
Not to mention, accessible web designs also lead to a user-friendly interface, improved SEO (search engine optimization), and a positive brand image.
Here are some accessibility features to implement in your web design:
- Alt text for images: Alt text, also known as alternative text, provides context and information about the visual content.
- Transcripts for audio and video content: Providing audio and video content transcripts permits users with hearing impairments to access the information in multimedia.
- Captions for videos: Captions provide a text-based representation of the audio content that users with hearing impairments may find helpful.
- Keyboard navigation and focus indicators: Many users with motor impairments rely on keyboard navigation rather than a mouse. Considering this, it’s important to ensure that all interactive page elements are accessible via keyboard.
- Other accessibility features: Various other accessibility features, such as high contrast options, resizable text, and clear and consistent headings, can also benefit website visitors with cognitive or visual impairments.
Designing for accessibility is not just a moral obligation but a legal requirement in many jurisdictions.
Optimise for SEO in Web Design
Web design and SEO work in tandem to boost website visibility and drive organic traffic. A well-designed website attracts and engages users, but SEO ensures your website reaches those users in the first place. Here are three things that help you achieve better SEO:
- Integrating relevant keywords naturally within your website content, headings, and metadata improves your chances of ranking higher in search engine results.
- Creating descriptive and keyword-rich page titles and meta descriptions enhances search engine visibility. They give search engines an idea about web page content and help them match your site with relevant user queries.
- Ensuring proper HTML structure and using semantic markup gives search engines clear signals about your content. It helps the algorithm rank the web pages accordingly.
Navigating SEO and web design might seem complex, but RCCO’s website design services can simplify the process. We ensure that your design and SEO work hand in hand to boost your online presence.
Prioritise Website Security
About 30,000 websites worldwide are hacked daily, and small businesses are the target of nearly half of these cyberattacks. This has extended the need to implement robust security measures to keep sensitive information confidential.
When you demonstrate a commitment to protecting user data, it builds confidence in users, which fosters trust and loyalty.
Here are a few site security measures:
- Use HTTPS protocol for secure data exchange.
- Update software regularly to patch vulnerabilities.
- Set strong passwords to boost account security.
- Choose a secure web host with robust security measures.
- Implement onsite security systems to ward off threats.
- Restrict access to the same IP range for safety.
These measures fortify the website's resilience against cyber threats. It helps you gain user trust and maintain the integrity of sensitive information.
On top of that, conducting regular backups also guarantees the safety of your website. It offers multiple benefits, including:
- Data integrity: Regularly backing up your website and its data ensures that you have a clean and reliable copy of your information.
- Recovery from security incidents: Having recent backups allows you to recover your website and data efficiently in case of a security breach.
- Peace of mind: Having backups provides peace of mind and allows you to focus on other aspects of website management.
Investing in anti-malware software demonstrates your commitment to protecting users' information and fostering a safe online environment.
Continuously Test and Improve
Testing allows you to detect errors and certain behaviours. It also uncovers new scenarios you might not have considered and can implement or add to your scope further down the line. A/B testing is a great way to make informed decisions. It lets you compare design elements, page layouts, or functionalities and see which ones work better.
But how would you make sure that you’re making the right decisions with A/B testing?
Through user feedback. Surveys, heatmaps, and usability testing provide a comprehensive understanding of areas that need improvement. This feedback helps you:
- Optimise design using real data, not just theories.
- Place CTAs where they'll get the most traffic and attention.
- Improve website navigation if buttons aren't catching user interest.
- Understand user behaviour patterns for design enhancement.
- Identify problem areas that need urgent design revisions.
You need to keep an eye on your website's analytics as an ongoing part of improvement. Website analytics can help you track user behaviour and tweak your website to enhance conversions.
Improvement is an ongoing process. As user needs and trends evolve, so should your website. It's all about making small, iterative enhancements based on the insights you gather to ensure your website stays user-friendly and effective.
Embrace Innovation and Uniqueness
Innovation and uniqueness are crucial for standing out and capturing user attention in the sea of websites. It's crucial to stay updated with new design trends and technology to provide an exciting and fresh user experience.
However, never lose sight of usability in the pursuit of uniqueness. Any innovative design element you introduce should enhance user interactions and not become a stumbling block.
It's about blending the new and unique with what's proven to work.
Following these web design best practices in 2023 is crucial for delivering top-notch user experiences and propelling your business to success.
Exceptional web design doesn't just look good; it can keep your users happy and engaged, lead to higher conversions and boost your brand's reputation.
At RCCO, we understand the crucial role of effective web design in business success. That's why we are committed to creating innovative and tailor-made web solutions that help businesses build a robust online presence. Our approach blends creativity with a keen understanding of the latest trends, which helps us create visually appealing websites that also deliver on performance.
We invite you to leverage our expertise to implement these web design best practices. Check out our projects and understand how we can help you unlock the full potential of your online presence and thrive in 2023 and beyond.