Website design Checklist

By Blake Holmes

In the website design space, great design innovation is essential.

The difference between standing out or paling into obscurity, a well designed website provides a seamless user experience that commands attention, engagement and ultimately, endears the user to your brand or business. We’ve all experienced the opposite: clunky UX, a lack of valid information, too much text, too few images, outdated designs; the list could go on. The point being, a bad experience is memorable, poorly received and jeopardises the chance you have each time someone lands on your website to draw them in, keep them interested and excited and encourage them to take action.

To help you stay up to date with the trends driving web design for small businesses in 2020, we’ve created a short checklist of essential design services to get you up to speed. 

Dark Mode

Already a go-to feature on most smartphones and countless banking apps, Dark Mode is an alternative viewing mode that reduces contrast and cuts out bright light to create a more immersive viewing experience. It is used on platforms like YouTube to block out unnecessary backlighting and as in a movie theater, draw central focus to the screen.

In general websites, it’s used as a theme and provides variety, as well as making logos, infographics and icons appear more prominently. There are other implications too. With most of us spending the whole day immersed in screens, harmful blue-light can disrupt our natural sleep cycle and hormone production. A darker screen experience reduces this interference and can make all the difference for a browsing experience that’s easy on the eye while looking incredible.

Trends in this direction are expected to continue, with brands like Facebook rolling out their own Dark Mode, and the science around blue light exposure becoming clearer. 

Before jumping on the bandwagon, it’s important to be certain that Dark Mode is in line with your brand. At the end of the day, your colour palette and digital experience should be cohesive and if light colours are part of your brand, they should be mainstay on your website.

Immersion 

Speaking of immersive experiences, these are, and will continue to be essential for any brand hoping to excel online. 

With limited attention spans, we’re all guilty of opening and reopening tabs, incessant scrolling and frequent multi-tasking - part of the challenge this presents is that with an overabundance of content, it takes a lot now to keep us engaged. 

To do this, you have to be tactical. It’s as simple as thinking about your own online experiences. When was the last time a website held your attention? When were you truly engaged? Did they have high-quality video content? A clear and intuitive user journey? You can follow the guidelines outlined in this blog, but the most informed user-experience will come from a deep understanding of your user/customer. In saying that, there are definitely best-practice rules to adhere to. Keep copy short and sweet. Use high quality images and follow conventional layouts, especially if you are a small business. By making the website intuitive to explore, the user journey won’t be disrupted by an unconventional UX and viewers can focus on exploring what you have to offer.

Ratings & Reviews

As the ecommerce space grows, customers are also growing increasingly skeptical of brands and products. Where the space was once dominated by businesses who could afford the higher costs of creating an online marketplace, today, setting up to sell online can be relatively inexpensive. Options like our Brave small business website design packages give small businesses access to competitive ecommerce websites affordably on a subscription basis, and allow them to compete with bigger players. Our digital agency provides this package and website design Auckland and NZ wide, to countless small businesses looking to gain an edge. 

While the space has been democratised through packages like these, it’s now easy for almost anyone to set up an online store, meaning consumers are having to be more discerning when it comes to validating a brand and their authenticity. 

A great way to do this is through ratings and reviews, or testimonials. By encouraging your customer to speak on your brand’s behalf and champion your products, your brand trust increases. You can also utilise these in communications to amplify these authentic voices, providing you with key digital marketing content for any marketing campaign that drives sales and customer loyalty.

Horizontal Scrolling 

Vertical scrolling has gained popularity in web design over the years due to the proliferation of smartphones and social media. Scrolling down on digital devices is intuitive now and websites naturally emulated this to create more cohesive, mobile friendly online experiences. 

Horizontal scrolling is gaining popularity now and provides the novelty that keeps customers engaged and active as opposed to disinterested and passive when visiting a website. Websites are also incorporating both, with horizontal scrolling in key sections enabled to explore, then return to the vertical scroll. Zara NZ is a great example, and when trying this user experience on their homepage, you notice the engagement that results from not ‘clicking’ out of the experience. You reduce loading (and potential lag) times, while also giving more control to the user. This idea of expiration is key and guiding a user journey in this fashion ensures users don’t tune out but remain in the driver’s seat, more attentive as a consequence. This streamlined fashion also helps you to get ahead in search engines and search engine optimisation, with better performing sites given priority.

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