8 Web Design Features You Can’t Overlook
There are over one billion websites on the Internet competing for the attention of Internet browsers. If you want your website to stand out from the crowd, you have to include some truly useful and user-friendly elements in your overall design. There are some web design features that are so vital you should never overlook them.
1. Intuitive Navigation
When visitors come through another site and are referred to yours, about 50% of people will look for the navigation menu to become more familiar with what your site has to offer. Think about when you visit a new site. Where do you expect the navigation bar to be? You expect it near the top of the page. If the navigation menu is placed farther down, it is difficult to spot.
If you don’t create a structure that is familiar to users, they may bounce away from your site and find one that is more intuitive. A good example of a company using their navigation bar to their advantage is Shoeboxed. Their navigation bar makes it very easy to find details about their plans and pricing as well as product features and how to sign up.
2. Don’t Forget the Footer
Even though the footer appears at the bottom of the page, it is still an important element to include in your design. If you’re doing everything else right and a user is still on your page to the bottom, then they will want to know where to go next. Your footer is like a roadmap to the rest of your site.
You should include basic navigation here as well, so the user doesn’t have to scroll all the way back to the top of the page to get to another area. However, you also can include elements such as contact info, a site map link and even details about your staff. It’s okay to get a little creative here, but make sure you include basic elements as well.
Spark Box does a great job by adding a footer that shares insight into their website, contact info and social media accounts. It is simple, intuitive and eye-catching.
3. Live Chat
About 44% of online shoppers state live chat is very important to them when they are trying to decide whether to complete a purchase. There are many benefits to live chat. Customers don’t have to stop other tasks and can chat while working on another thing. They don’t have to wait on hold for a response, which can lessen aggravation. It also makes shopping more personalized.
One thing you’ll want to avoid is installing live chat and then not staffing it with informed chat agents. It is okay to have set hours when live chat is available, but they should be clearly marked and hit your highest traffic times. Also, your chat agents need to be thoroughly trained about your products and policies. There is nothing worse than wasting your time asking questions of someone who can’t answer them.
Titan Alarm offers a live chat option on their homepage. What they do really well with their live chat is offer it as a button set off to the side. It is there if the user needs it, but it’s not intrusive to the overall website experience.
4. Contact Page
Site visitors tend to not trust a website in itself, but they trust the people behind the brand. That makes your Contact page an important part of your overall design. Site visitors want names and they want to know a robot isn’t running things behind the scenes.
Some things to include on your page are names, address and at least two ways to get in touch with you, such as an address and phone number.
Tune does a nice job with their contact page, offering a form and a button as well as some additional basic information about their site.
5. About Us
An About Us page personalizes your site, putting a face to your brand. This is a page where you tell the story of your company and the people behind it. The average person goes through around 100,500 digital words every day. If you want them to remember what you have to say above all that noise, then you have to write something that will stay with them.
6. Hamburger Menus
There is a general rule of thumb in UX design that states you don’t make users go through extra steps, yet this is exactly what a hamburger menu does. One in-depth A/B test shows using the word “Menu” versus three lines resulted in 20% more visitors clicking the button.
You also need to ascertain how many people access your site via mobile devices versus desktop because the effectiveness of hamburger menus depends on where people are visiting from. For example, when using a desktop to access a website, visitors used a hidden menu only 27% of the time, but, when accessing via mobile, they used hidden navigation 57% of the time.
Still, if you can unhide your navigation, that is always best, but it isn’t always possible in a mobile design. Don’t sacrifice readability to avoid a hamburger.
Long Story Short Design has a big bold image and examples of their marketing material designs in the center of a black background. In the upper left is an unobtrusive hamburger menu.
7. Beautiful Images
Beautiful images allow you to highlight your product to its best advantage. Normally, people only remember about 10% of the information they hear. But, if you add a related image to the information, people retain about 65% of that information. It makes good marketing sense to add a relevant image. Improve your website by learning how to design banner ads and how to properly create a call to action for your brand.
8. Responsive Design
The growth of smartphone usage has increased by leaps and bounds in recent years. Today, about 80% of those on the Internet own a smartphone and use it at least some of the time to access websites.
If your website isn’t responsive to smaller screens, then you are missing out on a big segment of your audience. There are several things mobile users expect from a site, including fast loading time and that the text and navigation will adapt to a smaller screen so it is still usable. Take the time to test your site and ensure it is usable by different devices.
Groupon offers a responsive site which modifies to fit different screen sizes and adapts depending upon what device you are using. They’ve also developed an app for iOS and Android. This is a vital element to meet the expectations of all your users.
Creating a compelling website design is a matter of understanding your target audience while also putting your product in the best light possible. Basic elements such as design, navigation and the layout of your site all come into play. A well-designed site is one visitors will return to time and time again.
Lexie Lu is a freelance web designer and blogger. Her ideal morning includes some HTML code and a cup of coffee. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.