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Top 15 Essential Elements of Successful Website Design

There are a lot of things to consider when building a website. Review these key elements of website design and create a beautiful site from scratch.

Successful website design isn’t just about creating something that looks aesthetically pleasing, it’s a place where people come to not only find out about your brand but see what problems you can solve for them.

Website development takes time and patience to get right. Whether you are creating a website for services or an ecommerce website for products, there are some web design elements that remain the same. The key is in knowing how to create a memorable user experience that keeps them coming back for more.

Every website visitor is different, so taking the time to build a website that engages each one differently while using modern web design to keep those connections is crucial. Consider the top 15 elements for successful website design:

1. Purpose

One of the key elements of modern website design is purpose. Just as you must know and understand your brand purpose, you must also be clear about the purpose of your website. Web designers can’t do their job if they don’t know what they need to accomplish.

Before beginning, you should outline your goals. Having the goals front and center makes things a lot easier. This helps in figuring out how the site should be managed, the types of content that should be on the site, your messaging, and more.

If you don’t have a plan of action and goals to achieve, the direction of the website may be incorrect and won’t connect with your audience.

Consider this – who is your target audience? What age group are you targeting? Is your website going to be tailored for a specific industry? Is it occupation-based? Is there a specific gender you are targeting? What about the other demographics in your user persona?

If you haven’t thought about any of these questions, you’re already behind the curve. You should have a concrete user/buyer persona at the forefront of good website design to ensure you are just building a website just to have one.

2. Usability

One of the next key elements of a website is its usability. From the home page to every other page on the site, you must address the needs and pain points of your users. If they can’t navigate your site or are confused in any way, they will leave. If your site has multiple products, they should be able to search the catalog and have a seamless checkout experience.

Your site should also be responsive and welcoming, no matter what type of device is being used. Your wireframe should start mobile-first to ensure you don’t let the mobile users lose out on a robust experience. Try to avoid having too much information, keep your language simple, have a quick and easy layout, and don’t make your paragraphs too long.

3. User Focus

The third piece of this initial puzzle is user-focus. Your users determine whether your site is good or bad. Your site should be accessible, aesthetically pleasing, and functional. Some designers take their own preferences into account when designing a website, which is why using a website builder like Mailchimp works if you’re doing this on your own. This is also why you must have a plan in place that directly addresses the wants and needs of your user personas.

The last thing you want is to get distracted and veer from the blueprint. Your content is not for you, but for your visitors. That means the goal is to get them to do something. Effective calls-to-action take care of this. An effective website takes all these things into account, immediately engaging your user from the moment they reach your main landing page. Their attention is held throughout the pages of your site, and they are influenced to either download your information, take notes from a video, sign up to your email list, or purchase something. Each one of those interactions is called a conversation, and that’s the ultimate purpose of your website.

Once you get past these three initial web design elements, it’s time to get into the meat of your design. Making sure you have all these components working together ensures you will have a website that is functional, efficient, converting, and aesthetically pleasing.

4. Navigation

Is navigation really that important? Absolutely. Your website should be easy to maneuver and easy to load. Your users should know where they are and what page they need to get to from the first interaction. Developing a site map and having clear directional navigation make sense. Don’t waste time having too many animations and other elements that will confuse your users. White space is always the best way to go.

If your site has too many clicks to get to what they need, they will leave. Some designers use breadcrumbs to make sure users can navigate and easily get back to where they started. The easier it is to navigate your website that has value, the likelihood of them returning increases.

5. Mobile

It’s difficult to imagine the digital space without mobile devices. Most people visit websites from their mobile devices instead of desktop computers. That means you must adapt to the times and keep up with the competition. Designing your website for mobile-first may be the way to go.

Using responsive web design to achieve this will help you in the search engines because they check how mobile-friendly your website is for mobile devices. The screen size of the devices accessing your site matters. That’s why the design should have the right design element plan in place where your buttons are accessible and not too small, the type is legible and easy to read, and they can find the menu without problems.

6. Branding

Branding is a crucial part of your overall design. While many businesses may start with colors they like, it’s real science behind building a strong brand. Your brand personality and voice should resonate throughout your website using messaging and words your audience connects with.

Your logo, colors, and other elements of your brand identity must transfer to your website, which is an important asset of your brand. Every color, typeface, and font should work together for a cohesive look and feel. If you don’t have brand guidelines to achieve this across your touchpoints, creating this guide is a good start in defining the style of your website and overall brand assets.

Your overall design should appeal to your audience, but it must also showcase the professionalism of your business. Technology changes on a consistent basis, creating a timeless look that won’t be obsolete two years down the road. Users are impatient, so you must be able to immediately capture their attention and keep it.

Use flash, animation, and other items sparingly so it won’t slow down your design. Your user should be able to have an immediate visual connection between you and the brand that not only resonates with them but creates top-of-mind recollection. This enhances the image and credibility of your brand from your logo, associated brand images, and more.

7. Content management

The meat of your website comes from the content. This is what draws your audience in and keeps them engaged. It supports your purpose and directs them to take action. This can be displayed in a variety of ways. You may have a blog, videos, and other elements that take them through your brand story, show them what your products and services do, or make them think.

Content is at the core of your website design. Most people don’t realize that while content is at the core, design, and content are different elements of the overall structure of your website. Content is the material being consumed and takes many different shapes, but the design is the presentation of that content. It influences how users feel. To be honest, when building the wireframe, it should begin with the content that will be used on the site. While aesthetics play a huge role in the user experience, users want to know what you can do for them.

Content and search engine optimization work hand in hand to give your site relevance and help with ranking. Content-first and mobile-first work together to create a better user experience. Your content management is important. Knowing how often you plan to update that content is important. Having a content management system (CMS) on the site can also help in effective management. The structure of the CMS is very important. You should be able to edit content from anywhere, on any device. It should be secure to avoid hacking, and your content should help, not hinder the speed of your site. Good content is useful and engaging. That’s your goal.

8. SEO and analytics

SEO is very important because it helps direct users to your site to get the information they are looking for. It helps you with building a strong online presence and adds value to your design. If your website isn’t friendly to search engines, it won’t be as accessible as you want it to be.

That means it won’t rank highly and you’ll miss out on valuable customers who need the information you have shared. There are a few components to SEO – the content, keywords, and links. Your content should have strategic keywords to help cut down on the time the search engines have to look for your page. Additionally, when using links effectively, other credible sites will be directed to your content.

Your title tags and meta tags are all vital to enhancing your SEO and should be ingrained in the process from the very beginning. You can have a great website but if you don’t have visitors, what’s the point? Make sure you keep up with changes Google makes to ensure your site is always present when doing searches in your field.

9. Calls to action

You already know your website is there to provide information and direct users to do something. That “something” comes from the calls to action on the site. These calls to action are the next steps, which could be a download button, phone number, request a quote link, or something else. Calls to action work to create conversions. They are also a different color from the other content to stand out.

10. Typography

This is a part of the overall branding but deserves more insight. Modern web design welcomes unique typography because it can lead your users from one section to the next. It also demonstrates what type of brand you are. If your brand is playful but the typography is corporate and very serious, that’s a disconnect that will resonate with your audience. You also want to make sure you’re using fonts that will show up on any computer and not just yours. Web-standard fonts are needed, and text that’s the right size. Typography is also an important element of brand guidelines.

11. Great hero images

A picture is worth a thousand words. The images you use on your site should be meaningful and align with your purpose. Having a great visual experience that engages your users as they go through the site will keep them on the site much longer than they anticipated. Using text and other content along with those images can help tell a story while providing the information they want or directing them to do what you want. These images help describe what your brand is about without saying much. The goal is to create a lasting impact.

12. Hamburger menus

What’s a hamburger menu? Remember we talked about mobile-first? You won’t have an entire menu across the header on a mobile-first site. That’s where a well-designed hamburger menu comes in. They help to increase conversion rates without taking up valuable screen space. All the user sees are three lines at the top of your site that they click to get more information. This helps the user focus on what’s important, removing the other distractions.

13. White space

White space helps your design remain clutter-free by balancing all the design elements in a cohesive way. Users are drawn to sites that have good white space because they can see everything clearly. Having white space between every element of content is good practice to bolster user satisfaction. The last thing you want is for a user to have trouble finding what they are interested in because there’s too much going on. The white space of your site helps the user focus on the things that matter most – what can help solve their problems.

14. Speed

Speed is important. It’s so important that it can determine whether someone will continue through your site or disappear and go see what the competition offers. Your site won’t drive conversions if your user loads slowly.

That’s why it’s so important to optimize your site in various ways. You want to reduce the time users have between clicking and getting to your content. Your images are key in this aspect. PNG images are better quality but are also larger than JPEG files. JPEGs offer a balance between quality and speed, so it’s a good idea to consider using JPEG files when building the site.

The hosting of your site is also key. Check to see if your site is using shared hosting or dedicated hosting which could have a direct impact on your site. When selecting the images and other items for your site, ask yourself, “Is this going to slow down my website?” If the answer is yes, or even maybe, don’t use it.

15. Footers

Your website footer is important but often overlooked. Most people don’t take the time to scroll all the way to the bottom, but if they do, they will see additional information like the privacy policy, terms and conditions, and copyright.

All the legal items that are necessary are located there, as well as how to contact your organization. Some footers also have sign-up boxes and career-oriented information. While some businesses also have a replica of the menu down there, it’s not necessary. Your logo should be on the footer, and your social media icons. This is another great opportunity to engage with your user and add additional value to their experience.

These should be included in your footer: logo, navigation, contact details, company information, copyright, terms of service, privacy policy, call-to-action, support information, and security and certification logos if necessary. The navigation of your site in the footer is an extension of the main navigation of the site and provides additional information they can access if interested. This is also the perfect place for social media icons. Put them at the top of the footer so individuals can connect with you in different ways.

Leverage Mailchimp’s website builder

Knowing these elements is key to good website design, but you won’t be able to put it all together if you don’t have a designer or website builder in place to help you create your site. Mailchimp’s robust website builder allows you to create a site for free while curating your look and feel, customize your layout, edit in real-time, select imagery that aligns with your brand, sell products, and accept appointments.

You won’t have to worry about SEO or getting a domain because you can do everything in one place. There are also reports and analytics to help you figure out what’s working and what needs work, personalized email marketing tools, and forms to keep your users informed on your next moves. If you’re looking for a website builder to enhance your business, try Mailchimp’s website builder for free.

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