When did you last update your website?
If your website still looks like a Myspace profile page, it may be time to consider an upgrade. One of the easiest ways to lose customers is to invite them to an out-of-date webpage. First impressions can only be made once, and they are often made within a few seconds. If your website looks neglected or dated, your customers will think the same of your business.
“But my site doesn’t look that bad,” you may be thinking. “Sure, the background has been the same since 2014, but it’s a good background. Why change a good thing?”
In a word: trends.
Web trends, just like acid wash jeans and fedoras, come and go according to the cultural winds. And, okay some men still look great in a fedora, but most people should shy away. The same is true for web trends. A heavily patterned background or a heavy-handed color scheme may still work for some lucky website owners, but most of us should start living in the now. Your customers certainly are.
So what’s to be done? You’re maxed out on work effort, and you don’t really know the first thing about updating or redesigning a website!
First, take a deep breath.
Second, take a deeper breath. One of those belly expanding, all the way into the bottom of your lungs kind of breaths.
Next, ditch the background. Now. Don’t hesitate, just click that delete button.
Is it gone? Good. Now let’s lay out the basics.
Contemporary web designs are all about minimalism. That’s right. Minimalism. The trend in home décor is also the current trend in the digital media. Minimalism is all about harmonizing and decluttering both your physical and digital spaces. Know that feeling you get when the dishes are piling up, mails strewn all over the table, and your clothing collection has somehow grown larger than your closet? That’s the same feeling customer’s experience when seeing a cluttered webpage.
It’s overwhelming, the eye has so much to view and so few places to rest. The mind becomes confused and frustrated, and a frustrated mind is not going to bother sorting through the clutter. It’s just going to go to a competitor’s page.
To avoid this kind of situation, you need to “tidy up” your webpage. Remove superfluous graphics and text. Avoid busy backgrounds. Strips of color, patterns, or images is fine, but nothing extremely overpowering. Stick to two or three colors on your page. Anything more just contributes to your website’s “noisy” atmosphere. Keep things organized, clean, and minimized.
Make use of your white space! This is the “empty” space between blocks of text, graphics, and images. This space is extremely important in layout. White space tells the customer that different pieces of information are separate. It also gives your customer’s eye a resting place. Two visual cues out of one method! White space will also contribute to the sites overall minimalist and clean aesthetic. How’s that for multitasking?
Next, aim for balance. Keep you page flowing with symmetry. Once a page is balanced and decluttered, customers can leisurely stroll through your company’s information. Don't randomly place visual elements or text! Consider the way a news journal or a comic book is laid out. Both use visuals and text to convey their meaning, and both keep these elements organized using column and grid layouts.
Take the webpage below for example:
It’s a simple website laid out in a solid, grid format. Notice the way the bodies of text align as the eye travels down the page. Notice how the page is divided into columns. Also, notice the white spaces between the different visual elements and the limited color palette. How does this layout feel?
Now look at this page:
It’s not nearly as harmonious is it? The excessive colors and erratic layout contribute to a visual chaos that no one wants to fight their way through. This is a customer’s worst nightmare. This is what losing customers looks like, and it isn't pretty.
Admittedly, most websites are not as heinously guilty of this crime of visual overload, but smaller offenses can be just as impactful on a web owner's reputation. Conversely, a clean, straight forward page with carefully chosen colors and visuals is interesting but not confrontational. It tells your customers that you are interesting, straightforward, and approachable. Your webpage is often a potential customer's first interaction with your business. It's your portfolio, but it's also your interview clothes. Is your website dressed appropriately?
There's still lots more to learn about crafting an aesthetically pleasing and harmonious layout for you page, but it's a bit much to cover in just one blog post. Don't worry! There are a lot of resources out there to help you master the art of web layout, including the upcoming workshop at The Biz Foundry!
If you want to learn more about web design and our Web Design Workshop, click here.