12 Crucial Elements of Website Design

Michael Harvey
August 4, 2022
 Mins Read

There are several details to consider when designing and developing a website. Note that it is the usability and the overall experience, not just an attractive design that determines the success or failure of a website. User experience is the main criterion against which a website’s value is measured. The chosen web platform, content creation, graphic design, navigation, and user interface all have to work together to deliver an engaging and smooth user experience.

The following are the crucial elements that go into making an effective website design.

12 Integral Elements of Website Design

1. Visual Appeal:

A website’s visual presentation is only the first step. However, one is quickly turned off by a website that does not have a good visual design. This rule applies to all kinds of websites, from B2B enterprises to eCommerce to a community forum. This does not mean that a website needs to have a complex design; what it needs is the right aesthetic balance of design and simplicity.

2. Well-Planned User Interface:

An intuitive user interface should go hand in hand with a good design and is the foundation of any well-functioning website. When planning your website, you must consider the average user. It definitely helps to create a profile, or multiple profiles, of the kind of users you want to attract and expect. Clarify everything that they would want to know before making a purchase or subscribing to your product or service. Your navigation menu, buttons, and content should be easy to find and must also be consistent throughout your site.

3. Primary Navigation:

To make your website easy to navigate and to create an intuitive user interface, the first step you need to take is to ensure that the primary navigation options are kept above the fold. Large computer monitors with high screen resolution available today want “above the fold” to be within the top 500-600 pixels of the website. This part of your website should hold your logo – which also links back to the home page –as well as links to the key parts of the site. These would be home, about us, services (or products), resources, and contact us. You can also include links to sub-pages here. For example, FAQs, news, subscription, etc.

4. Repeat Navigation:

If your main navigation is based on images, you must give your site visitors another set of navigation links in the footer. This will make it easy for visitors to find the content they are looking for. The footer can also hold additional links such as privacy policy, terms of service, and sitemap.

5. Meaningful Content:

High-quality and well-written content are of immense use in providing helpful information about your products, services, and your industry. Content plays a major role in your search engine ranking, and can impact website traffic. If you are running a blog, informative articles related to your area of expertise are incredibly helpful as well. Offer users white papers, case studies, infographics, and other collateral that give them valuable information without always selling them something.

6. All About You:

Your prospects want to know the people behind a company. If you are the proprietor, then you must include information on your background and explain how your expertise adds value to your business as well as to customers. Prospects prefer a company with a real person behind it, rather than an impersonal organization.

7. Contact Information:

Your contact page should be simple and should offer multiple ways to contact your business, including a contact form, a Google map, a list of all your locations, and so on. Also include links to other options such as a subscription to content (newsletter, papers, the mailing list for your company’s updates, etc.).

8. Local Search:

If yours is a large enterprise, chances are that your website runs into several hundred pages. Having a search field is incredibly helpful, and will save your visitors the trouble of treading through pages looking for things they need. Remember that prospective customers can be fickle and if they see a website that doesn’t allow them to search for information more easily, they will forget your company very soon. You can often use a Google search on your site, or use the WordPress search feature if you have a WordPress-based site.

9. Sitemap:

When adding a sitemap for your website, note that there are two kinds of maps – one meant for search engine bots and one meant for human visitors. An HTML (or any such language) sitemap is designed for your prospects and can prove to be a very useful tool. Creating a sitemap is especially useful if you are unable to add a search feature to your site. It will list out every page of your website in a tiered format and will display the relationship of pages in terms of primary pages and sub-pages.

10. Separating Design from Content:

Top sites today use a combination of XHTML and CSS to separate design from content. Tags such as <div> help create buckets for various areas of text and images. Without a corresponding CSS file, a visitor will only have text, something which is also preferred by search engines. By linking to an external CSS file in order to separate your content from the design, it leaves your HTML page with relevant text in your source code. The separate CSS file takes care of fonts, colors, background images, etc.  This will allow you to update a single CSS file to make site-wide changes in design. Separating content from design will also make it easier for search engines to crawl through your website.

11. Browser Agnostic:

Your developers may prefer Firefox or Chrome. However, your prospects might prefer other browsers. Your website should load equally well on any browser and give the same user experience regardless of the browser. Prospects will never come to your website again if they are faced with half-loaded pages or skewed navigation because of browser incompatibility. Ensure that your sites load perfectly well in at least all the mainstream browsers. What would be incredibly customer-friendly is if you can design a website that works across all platforms – mobile, tablet, PC – and operating systems as well.

12. SEO Friendliness:

Since this element is behind the scenes, it is easy to forget that your website – and this includes images, text, navigation, and structure – is compatible with search engines. Unless you are a very well-known global business, you need to use search engines to gain visibility and stand out from the competition. Research shows that customers rarely click beyond the first page of a search engine results page. In addition to that, tracking tools such as Google Analytics will also help you track the number of hits, unique visitors, most popular pages on your site, which sites link to yours, and so on.

To sum up, a good website anticipates what the visitor wants and caters to their needs, while also serving personal business needs.

Article by
Michael Harvey

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