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Which Elements Make for a Great Homepage?

When you have a killer idea for a new service or product, all you need is the ideal website to bring it to life.  It should illustrate what you have on offer simply and capture the essence of your business, in a way that people can understand the world over.  Sounds great, but how does that all come together in practice?

First impressions always count

Web designers know that your homepage will create a lasting impression on visitors.  It’s the first connection they have with your brand story, so they will give it a professional edge and clear direction, along with a welcoming atmosphere.

A planned marketing strategy

Any website starts out as a clean slate that is elaborated on using a clear marketing strategy.  So, think about what you want from this future website and what you’d consider to be a success.  Is it all about brand exposure, or do you want to generate leads or subscribers?  If you define your target market and understand how to make them convert, a web designer can ensure your homepage is built in line with those objectives.

Segment your visitors
You’ll be visited by a number of different people, but if you can divide them into segments it’s easier to market to them on a more individual level.  From parents, to millennials, returning visitors and first time customers, once you’ve divided your audience into groups you can focussed on the individual needs of each.   This ensures the homepage is working for every type of visitor you anticipate, and catering for their unique needs properly.

Include a bold image

The online world is a highly visual one, people have different reactions to graphics than they do to the written word alone.  This means the image on your homepage is important, it needs to embody what your brand stands for and represent the essence of your business.  Use a photograph that’s inspiring and intriguing enough to leave people wanting to learn more.

Keep the content fresh

Once everything is up and running, the next objective is to keep your visitors informed with regularly updated content.  On the homepage this doesn’t need to be highly detailed, as you can do that elsewhere on the site.  Instead, use a small bio and a few news items to show that you remain a reliable source of information, and the website is current.

Web design terms and definitions

 

When you ask us to build your website, we’ll always talk you through exactly what we have planned, but it’s likely that you’ll come across a few terms which are unfamiliar.  Here’s a list of some of the most common specialised terms we use in web design, and an explanation of exactly what they mean.

CTA

An abbreviated term that refers to a call-to-action, which in turn refers to an image, link or text box that prompts the people who visit your page to do something.  The best websites have persuasive CTAs that push conversion levels up, inspire users to ring the business, fill in a contact form, or sign up for a service.

Gradient

A trend that came and never left, gradient web design techniques involve fading one or more colours into each other.  This idea can also work for images, where blending can enhance the appearance of a page.  Gradients add an extra touch of visual interest to your web pages and can free up space for other elements.

Header Tags

Often used for search engine optimised content, header tags in HTML language make the title of a page stand out above the other text.  They can also be used to add in smaller subheadings and subtitles in the page, using H2, H3 and H4 tags.  Headers are generally placed in order of importance, so H1 indicates a key title, whilst H4 will be a minor title.

Navigation

A general term which could more specifically be called site navigation, this refers to the main menu of a website.  It can be placed along the top or bottom of the page, or presented as a pulldown menu.  This enables users to view which other pages are available at a glance and then get to them quickly.

Negative Space

If you have an area of space surrounding an image or design element, this is usually referred to as negative space.  You may also hear of it being called the ‘white space’ which is visible on a webpage.  Once considered unsuitable on a professionally designed page, now negative space is included as an important component, ensuring that the site doesn’t become too busy and distracting for a user.

Sitemap

As the name would suggest, a sitemap shows exactly what can be found on your website.  It tells search engines about the content available and how often it’s updated.   This enables Google and other search engines to learn more about what you have to offer and where to place your site in a list of results.

What Great Quality Web Design Can Do For You

Your web site is the place that people who are interested in your product or service come for more information.  It’s also the perfect space for building a relationship with them and boosting your sales figures.  Your online pages are about far more than advertising, but they do represent the most obvious aspect of any marketing strategy.  If you get the feeling that your website isn’t performing well, better web design elements could change all that.  So, what could make the difference?

Be Inviting to Promising Leads

If you have settled for lack lustre design that doesn’t promote your message properly or provide an excellent user experience, it’s unlikely that you’ll see decent results. Better website design can transform your pages by using great visuals and relevant information.  Added to this a professional SEO package will increase your findability, so people can locate your business amongst the competition.

Create a Practical Social Media Presence

Social media is fast becoming a major source of sustainable sales opportunities, so if you are not yet reaching out to new leads on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, you could be missing out on a
sizable revenue lift.  Experienced web designers can put your company into the path of new customers in an unobtrusive way, ensuring they become aware of what you do through their own social media account.  It’s a very cost effective way of marketing, but your website needs to back up your efforts, so consumers feel at home when they arrive.

Ensure Your Website Generates Conversions

Having plenty of people visit your webpage is great, but what you really need is for a percentage of them to become buyers or service users.   It’s not necessary to create a website that is solely focussed on ecommerce, but it does need to stimulate sales somehow or it isn’t up to the task.  This can be done by  backing up your social media and SEO marketing campaigns with tools which allow visitors to sign up on your site, and confirm their interest.

Produce A Website You Can Be Proud Of

You’d never keep on a team member who made your company look incompetent, and your website should be just as reliable.  Spelling mistakes, slow load times, and broken links, make your company seem unprofessional.  Investing in a web designer who can keep your pages updated and well maintained, will enable you to foster a consistently reputable public image.

Use a font that makes your logo shine

If you’re managing a start-up or an established small business, you’ll be aware of how important it is to choose the right logos and fonts for your company.   Web designers can help you to control your brand’s appearance online, and ensure that the personality which shines through on your website, is one you feel happy with.

Choosing a font
Typography is one of the most important elements in web design, it communicates the name of your business, but also imbues it with character.  Companies regularly report a link between the type of fonts used on their website and profits.  After a redesign of their traditional font in 2000, White Mountain Footwear saw their investment paid off with an impressive 20% increase in sales.  This was described by a company spokesperson as “nothing short of miraculous”.  So which fonts could make the difference to your revenue?

Serif fonts

These are the Times New Roman, newspaper print, academic style fonts.  They tend to work best for traditional businesses, which want to appear professional and serious about what they do.  Serif makes individual letters distinct, so our brains spend less time trying to identify letters and we can read the text faster.  Serif lends itself well to being paired with other fonts, as it makes for a great header or caption.

Sans serifs

These are the trendier, younger versions of serif, like Futura, Optima and Helvetica. They are favoured by lifestyle blogs and tech firms.  Sans serif looks clean, fresh and new, but because it’s so easy to read, it also gets the job done.  These many plus points mean it has become an increasing popular choice.  Therefore,  the problem can come in using this font to produce a logo which marks your company out from the rest.

Script fonts
This type of font packs a visual punch, think Apple Chancery, Brush Script and Mistral .  It’s a great choice for firms with an artistic or creative service or product to offer, but be mindful of readability.  Some script fonts can be intricate and elongated, making them difficult to understand for some users.  You can get around this by factoring in extra space on the page for the logo.  Many designers try to avoid font pairing when it comes to script, as their unique appearance makes them difficult to blend with another typeface.

 

As web designers and business owners, we’re compelled to spend time carefully choosing a font.  However, it’s worth remembering that the best font is one that the reader doesn’t notice, because they’re too busy concentrating on the message.

Five classic web design trends that will never date

Trends come and go, with certain colours, layouts and fonts becoming more or less popular with each passing year.  But if you don’t want to have your site redesigned on a regular basis which styles could ensure your online image never dates?

Keep it simple

You may have pages of information that you want to share with visitors, but pushing it all out at the same time won’t get the job done.  The Amazon homepage is a great example of information overload and this kind of approach can often confuse people who drop by.  You can start with addressing the most important reason for visiting your site, then lead visitors around from there.  Just keep their path clear and free from clutter.

Intuitive design

Good web design can anticipate the ways in which your users will explore the site, and make it easy for them to find the information they need.  Icons should clearly represent what they will lead to if clicked on, so your users feel comfortable interacting with the site, rather than frustrated.  To get the ball rolling, talk to your designer about the type of visitor you anticipate and the smoothest paths to conversion.

Text that’s easy to read

Let’s face it, we all skim read when we’re in a hurry and it’s rare that we get to the bottom of a web page.  That means you’ll need to include plenty of interesting copy to keep your users entertained and cut out any jargon or technical terms which laypeople might not fully understand.  You could also use subheadings and images to break up chunks of text and make them more accessible for readers.  This isn’t an essay, it’s supposed to be engaging for all levels of reader, so make your point, then move on.

Get each element some breathing space

Sometimes considered a bad idea, areas of unused space on a webpage can actually be a helpful design technique.  Elements that have room to breathe can appear more vibrant and striking to visitors, as these will catch their eye immediately, rather than having to compete with copious amounts of other information that’s been crammed in nearby.

Invest in great photographs

Even the best designed websites will be less appealing if they are studded with poor quality images.  iPhones have made us all feel like photography experts, but if you use a professional service you’ll notice the difference and so will your visitors.

Is your site’s body text big enough to read effortlessly?

In general, body text should be as large as it can be, whilst still fitting in with the rest of the page, and optimised to provide users with the best possible display.  The text used in the body of a site is important for communicating meaning, making it a key element of the page. By rendering it too small we risk limiting its effectiveness, so where possible and appropriate it’s always best to aim for a larger option.

Deliver a better UX with enhanced typography

Web designers generally adopt a pragmatic approach because it’s impossible for them to know exactly, which gadgets visitors to the site will be using.  However, they need to be reasonably confident of covering all bases, so as a rule most websites are designed with body text between 15 and 18px – that’s somewhere between 11pts and 13.5pts on a document, but it’s possible to go even larger.   Here are three reasons why enhanced typography can change the overall appearance of a website.

It looks good, even from a distance

People browse the web on all types of gadget, from phones  to smart TVs, and when  they’re using a larger device they may be viewing the screen from some distance – anywhere between 2 and 15 feet away.   Even handhelds are often viewed at arm’s length as people prefer not to have their face too close to the screen.  Therefore,  by enlarging specific elements and utilising every available bit of space, we can create a better experience for visitors.

The text is easier to read

Most readers will scan a webpage rather that going over every word, this is because they are often in a rush and just want to locate the information they need  fast.  You can help them achieve their goal by providing a larger typeface that increases readability for every age and level of reader.  Also, in terms of copy writing, bigger text means fewer words can fit on the page, so the content you provide will tend to be more succinct with less filler.

Visual impact is improved

Larger fonts can draw attention to specific words and phrases, giving you the opportunity to highlight a message with greater emphasis.  A bigger typography can reveal another feature of a website however – the quality of the font used.  At a reduced size, it can be hard for people to notice the subtle design flourishes in a great font, but by going for a larger option, you make these far clearer.

Four signs that your website is ready for a redesign

Calling in a web designer to revamp your site can feel like a big step, but a fresh new look can make all the difference in terms of performance, conversion and ROI. Here are four signs that suggest it really is time to update your web presence and keep your brand relevant in 2017.

User experience is poor

If people who visit your site continually have problems with broken links, load times or outdated content, then they will soon stop coming back for more. Sometimes things can look great at first glance, but if you test them out on a variety of devices, they soon appear glitchy and hard to navigate. As users don’t all think in the same way as web designers, so you might not get to hear exactly what the problem is until it’s too late. So, if your bounce rates are high and visitor numbers are on the wane, it’s worth addressing what’s going wrong with the help of a web professional

Your site is not ready for mobile traffic

Mobile buying is on the up and shows no signs of stopping, so if you still don’t allow people to search, browse and buy through their phone, you are missing out. To create a robust mobile site, web designers use different frameworks and coding than for desktop versions, just let them know what you want to accomplish. A mobile optimised site will give your on-the-go customers everything they expect from your main site, and quickly move your brand up the list in mobile search results.

Branding that needs a refresh

There’s only one thing worse than neglecting to brand your product and that’s branding it poorly. The themes and appearance of your site reflect upon your organisation as a whole, so use the opportunity to impress visitors and outshine the competition with intelligent branding. Take a step back and look at the colours, the images and the copy…. Consider whether the overall effect is consistent and looks professional. Your website should support your brand, so make it the best it can be.

Troubleshooting is a daily occurrence

When you spend more time fixing your website than you do on customer service, it would probably pay to have a more reliable hosting option in place. If your website has outgrown its original purpose, a good web designer can help you add more content and keep everything well ordered, so you can concentrate on running your business.