7 Core Practices For Creating A Winning Website
Every business owner wants a website that will look great and provide the best user experience (UX) for their customers. UX is about the feeling a customer has when interacting with your page, and it should motivate them to continue coming back (and to buy your product!).
But with so many websites out there, how do you make yours stand out? What elements come together to create an effective, user-friendly, and aesthetically pleasing website that serves its purpose?
In this article, we’ll break down the key ingredients every good website needs and provide real examples by taking a look at the well-designed website for Giardino Salads. (www.giardinosalads.com)
Keep these website design essentials in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to creating your own successful site.
#1: Be User-Centric in Your Design
The first, and most important, rule of good website design is to make it all about your users. Of course, your customers care about your products and services, but when visiting your website, they care most about how easily they can find information, purchase products, and engage with content.
That means your website navigation, content, features, and calls-to-action need to focus on their needs first. Here are some tips for putting users at the center of your website design:
Use clear, concise language – Write all your website copy with the average customer in mind. Consider what they will be looking for and keep your text simple and to the point. On the Giardino Salads site, they use language like, “Let Us Cater,” and explain the options in concise and simple language before providing a link to “Order Catering.” Eliminating the guesswork and providing useful information is the goal.
Picture: Giardino Salads homepage
Prioritize ease of use – Remove unnecessary clicks, simplify navigation, and optimize page load times to 2.5 seconds or less. Make it seamless for users to find what they need.
Use visuals wisely – Let your visuals enhance your product descriptions and create interest in what you have to offer, as in the image below from the Giardino Salads menu showing a menu item and an example of nutritional information that appears on the “reverse” of the image when you hover over it.
Picture: Giardino Salads Our Menu Page.
Keeping the focus on making things easy for users results in website designs that are naturally more engaging and successful.
#2: Establish a Clear Visual Hierarchy
An effective website design should have a clear visual hierarchy – an intentional order for how the viewer perceives different elements on the page. Visual Mapping lets you decide how and where to place elements on your page so the user is guided down the page to easily find what they are looking for.
A strong visual hierarchy leads users to the most important information first and establishes relationships between headers, descriptions, calls-to-action, navigational elements, visuals, and text.
Following these basic principles allows you to guide visitors through your site intuitively. Users will see your key messages quickly, focusing first on the items calling for action.
Several key principles for establishing a strong visual hierarchy were used in the Giardino Salads site.
Picture: Giardino Salads homepage.
Critical items, like headings and calls-to-action, should be placed toward the top since users tend to scan pages from top to bottom.
Key features and action buttons should be bigger because larger elements on the page attract the most attention.
Leaving white space between sections creates a visual separation that makes it easier to process different content groups.
Contrasting colors (in background/text/images) will draw the eye and attract attention.
Calls-to-action need to stand out. This can be done through the use of unique fonts, text boxes, underlining, borders, etc.
#3: Maintain a Consistent Color Scheme and Design
Consistency leads to familiarity; an important concept for website design, especially if you want repeat customers. When your website pages, content sections, buttons, headlines, and images maintain a consistent look, feel, and formatting throughout, visitors can find information more easily.
A consistent design allows them to focus on your content rather than figuring out new navigation or layouts on each page.
Some tips for creating consistency in your website design that are easy to identify on the Giardino Salads site include:
Using the same logo placement and navigation style on every page
Keeping fonts and text treatments the same across pages
Maintaining the same color palette across all pages and content sections
Replicating buttons and icons consistently by color, size, and style
Standardizing page templates and structures
Picture: Giardino Salads Locations Page
Of course, you still want to keep your site fresh and visually appealing, but using a consistent framework throughout your site is critical for ease of use.
#4: Incorporate Compelling Visuals and Graphics
In website design, looks are (almost) everything. Eye-catching graphics, images, and videos attract user interest while conveying information visually. But, you need to be selective in how you incorporate visuals so the images don’t overpower the core content of your site.
Picture: Giardino Salads Our Menu Page.
Some best practices for including visuals and graphics on your site include:
Using high-quality, optimized visuals. If the files are large, compress them without sacrificing quality.
Varying the kinds of images you use to keep things interesting. Incorporate photos, illustrations, icons, and multimedia to keep your customers curious and engaged.
Utilizing images selectively and to reinforce content. Avoid crowding your site with unnecessary images and using stock photos or graphics. And, make sure that the descriptions or phrases you use are relevant to the context in which they are placed.
With the right balance of high-impact visuals and uncluttered white space, you can capture user interest while supporting (not distracting from) your core content. As we have seen in the Giardino Salads example, these practices can really enhance your customer’s website experience by showing them what they can expect in an exciting way.
#5: Make Navigation Intuitive and User-Friendly and Aim for Maximum Usability
If users can’t easily navigate your site to find what they are looking for, you’ve lost them. That makes straightforward navigation one of the most vital elements of good website design.
Usability goes hand-in-hand with navigation and refers to how easily and intuitively users can access information and perform tasks on your website. High usability means visitors find what they need quickly and with little or no confusion.
The Giardino Salads site is a great example of including best practices for navigation and usability to improve the user experience.
Picture: Giardino Salads Franchising Page.
Navigation is placed prominently at the top of the page and is locked in place in a sticky header so it stays visible even as the customer scrolls through the rest of the page. It is also consistent across all pages.
Clear, concise link labels tell visitors exactly what they will find.
Primary navigation is simple and not overloaded, with secondary or “footer” navigation nested where it makes sense.
Anticipated design elements are included (e.g., “Order Now” buttons on every page).
Mobile optimization has been considered since the majority of customers now search for and engage with businesses via smartphones and tablets.
Intuitive navigation, in combination with strong visual hierarchy, great graphics, and clear messaging, present a seamless path to information, removing obstacles and confusion.
You can continue to improve usability with ongoing user input, so ask for feedback and make revisions as you go to provide the optimal experience for your customers.
#6: Ensure Site-Wide Accessibility
Accessibility for all customers is essential to a successful website. Sites adhering to accessibility best practices can be effectively used by people with visual, motor, cognitive, and other disabilities.
Picture: Giardino Salads Accessibility Meny by UserWay.
Some key aspects of accessible web design include:
Adding ‘alt text’ descriptions to images to allow for the use of a screen reader.
Ensuring color contrast is high and avoiding combinations that may be difficult for low-vision users to decipher.
Allowing for page zooming and text resizing that gives vision-impaired users control over how the page appears. Some accessibility software, like UserWay (the one used on the Giardino Salads site and indicated by the Accessibility Menu at the bottom left of every page), also includes options like the use of dyslexia-friendly fonts, modified line spacing, and more.
Avoiding generic link phrases like, “click here,” in favor of more descriptive calls-to-action like, “Order Now,” which can make it easier for those using a screen reader.
Allowing users to pause or stop moving content. and not including videos that play automatically.
Websites that are ADA Compliant are essential for a consistently strong user experience. If you want more information about how to ensure your site is ADA Compliant and why it is so important for your business, check out our Guide to Website Accessibility and ADA Accessibility Standards blogs.
While you can perform your own accessibility testing, it’s good practice to have an accessibility audit conducted by experts who can identify any issues early so that you can better serve all visitors.
#7: Make Responsiveness a Top Priority
A great website is important, but one that isn’t responsive won’t get you anywhere. The website design must include layouts and elements that can seamlessly adapt to and display optimally on any mobile device.
Among the best practices for building responsiveness into your website design are:
Using flexible grids and layouts in your site’s architecture to allow for column sizes to adjust based on screen width.
Using relative width units, like percentages, that allow for adaptive resizing of content and images.
Resizing anything fixed, like headers, buttons, etc., to scale down for mobile devices.
Adapting navigation specifically for mobile devices by simplifying and structuring elements for small screens.
Conducting usability tests on phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops to ensure you have made the site as responsive as possible.
Using these design concepts, you can maintain excellent visual design while adapting your site’s presentation and interactions for mobile, tablet, laptop, and desktop displays.
Creating an effective website requires thoughtful orchestration of many elements—from visual design and content presentation to navigation, functionality, and technical considerations. Utilize these core website design practices to meet user needs efficiently and aesthetically.
Build consistency, clarity, and accessibility into your site’s DNA, and keep the focus on an intuitive, seamless, user-centric experience. Using these principles, you are sure to build a successful website that engages your customers and keeps them coming back.
If you are inspired by these tips but aren’t sure how to get started, let us partner with you to create a winning site for your business.
Contact us at https://piersonmedia.com/contact-us/.