Written by Holly Horsman – 31st March 2017
We all know that first impressions are important … especially when it comes to your own unique brand. In a place where so many sites are vying for an audience’s attention, it’s important to make your website really standout. Using creativity and originality, you can design an appealing, user-friendly, and engaging site that separates you from the rest.
Make it Look Interesting
The world often judges on appearances, especially when it comes to the internet. Using colour is going to be one the quickest ways to catch your audience’s eye. Colour can make a huge difference in your site, especially if you use it intentionally.
If you already have a sense of what you’d like your overall mood to be, experiment with various colour schemes and combinations that reflect the mood and message you’re trying to convey to your viewers. Reds, oranges, and yellows are going to be more intense and expressive, while blacks, greys, and whites are going to be more sleek and subdued. Make sure that the colours you choose flow together smoothly or contrast where appropriate. This is especially important with the colour of your text, as it’s going to be difficult to read black words on a blue background or click a pink link on a red backdrop.
Also, it’s okay to take the less-is-more approach if it aligns with your goal. I’ve visited sites with a bunch of loud colours and it can be overwhelming, while some sites with basic pastels have caught my attention because they were formatted properly. So, play around with it until you get something that accurately represents you.
Try incorporating graphics, photos, or a unique logo, as your logo may be the most important part of your webpage, because this is what people will remember and associate with your brand. It will give your site more pizazz, as text itself can only go so far. Make sure that your photos are relevant to the theme of your site or articles, and it’s often helpful to create continuity with your photos. For example, using photos that incorporate colours from your background, using photos taken on the same or similar cameras, and editing them the same way can create a more clean and polished look.
Make it Short & Sweet
It’s best to assume your readers are going to have short attention spans. Obviously, this is not always the case, but it’s important to make an impression within the first few moments of your site being visited, as viewers are only willing to invest so much time into something that doesn’t immediately grab them.
My suggestion is to choose quality over quantity when you’re sharing your mission or message with your audience. You still want to be able to offer the most holistic version of your brand, while not boring people to death with extraneous words and fluff. In essence, cut to the chase and work on coming up with witty and creative catchphrases, as well as writing your mission statement and any accompanying text as concisely as possible; several sentences should fit the bill. This doesn’t mean you can’t create longer blog posts or features within your website, just keep in mind that you’re using brevity to gain initial engagement.
Make it Easy to Navigate
I’ll just be blunt – if your site is difficult to manoeuvre, you’re going to miss out on a lot of viewers, fast. Most people browsing the internet are not web designers or coders, so if your website needs an instructional video just to peruse through, your readers are going to get frustrated and steer clear. An easy way to avoid this is by keeping your site organised. Make use of menus and categories, easy to read font and colour combinations, and placement. The last one is really important because it’s going to be difficult as a reader to get a feel for what your brand represents, or to share your site, if your mission statement is hidden at the bottom of your page and your widgets are nowhere to be found.
Know Your Audience & Stick To What You Know
If your niche is speciality pies and cakes, then don’t write a bunch of articles about lawn care. The person seeking out baking tips is not going to be on your site for strategies on the best ways to keep their grass alive during a drought. They’re visiting your site because you’ve led them to believe (through your amazing colour scheme and perfected mission statement) that you’ve got what they’re looking for. I’m not suggesting that you can’t incorporate un-associated topics, but if you do, they need to be blended into your site pretty seamlessly in order to make your site read smoothly. So choose a topic, or topics, that create continuity on your site, not confusion.
Focus on what you know in order to remain relate-able and authentic to the reader. If you’re offering a bunch of advice about something you haven’t experienced or promoting something you’ve never tried, it’s difficult to take it seriously and you’ll lack credibility. Credibility it something that’s going to go a long way with your audience, so if you’ve received awards or acknowledgements, been featured in various credible publications or media outlets, or have collaborated, share that! Have humility, in the way you deliver that information, of course, but doing so will give your readers a better sense of how acclaimed your talents are, as well as show them that you’re reliable and competent.
Make it Count
As you go off into the world of website design, continue to consider some of your favourite sites. What do you like about them? Is it simply their message? Or does it have to do with how accessible they are, how the headlines and colours grab your attention, or that the writing is direct rather than long-winded? As you build your own site, mull over these points, as most people are seeking a similar baseline when they’re browsing the web. Be patient with yourself, as it can take a few tries and consistent tweaks here and there before you’ve got your winner. Good luck!