The aesthetic of your website is an essential part of your marketing outreach.
Marketers are always on the lookout for something to give their content an edge.
This is a marketer’s job, after all: gathering and reapplying data to achieve better growth.
But instead of rehashing the same metrics ad nauseum, we suggest a different approach to strengthening your marketing outreach: optimizing the layout and visual aesthetic of your web pages on your own or with a web design company.
Think about it—your site’s appeal can determine how users perceive your brand, how long they’ll stay on your page, and even whether they feel compelled to take action down your sales funnel. Failing to do this can create problems, too—data compiled by Ironpaper found that 94 percent of people cited poor web design as the reason they mistrusted a website.
Visual Hierarchy and Best Web Design Tips
Any discussion on the best web design must begin with a review of visual hierarchy.
Visual hierarchy refers to the way elements appear on a page, with their location suggesting their importance. Marketers communicate not only with their words, but in the way they present information. Information structured in a deliberate hierarchy will be more logically consistent with what readers expect. This in turn will make your page resonate more, and be more effective at influencing behaviors.
Some of the best web design practices for organizing your visual hierarchy include:
Visual hierarchy is all about organizing information in ways that are accessible, consistent, and logical. But to make the flow of information logical to our readers, we have to understand how they take in information.
It’s no secret that most readers give articles a scan before taking the plunge and reading the whole thing. When we do this, our eyes tend to follow one of two patterns:
F-Pattern image by the Nielsen Norman Group
- F-Pattern: Readers start at the top of the page, scanning the headlines, then move down the left side of the page to get a feel for the content. If something catches their eye, they’ll stop and read to the right. This generally creates something akin to an “F” shape. This is the typical scanning pattern for content-heavy pages that contain plenty of text blocks. In fact, an eyetracking study by the Nielsen Norman Group found that the “F” shape reading pattern was one of the most dominant for nearly all content types.
- Z-Pattern: The Z-pattern begins at the top left of the page, where company logos and primary brand information are generally placed. The eye travels to the right to scan headlines and links at the top of the page. From there, readers look to the bottom-left corner and do the same thing with the information presented at the bottom. This style is more commonly found on landing pages and ads that don’t feature heavy chunks of text.
Keep these scanning patterns in mind as you design your page layout. Scanning patterns are important to know when testing the most effective location for your CTA. An outsourced web development agency can help if you’re struggling to manage this on your own.
Bigger is bolder. The human eye naturally moves from the largest, most attention-grabbing elements to the smaller ones. This is seen most often with titles and headers that break up blocks of text. Size can be one of the most influential factors of your visual hierarchy—make your most important information the easiest to see.
Colors play multiple roles in your site’s visual appeal.
Bold, sharply contrasting colors can guide a reader’s attention. Colors can also be used to influence emotional states and add appeal to your brand. Cool, muted colors denote feelings of calmness and serenity. Warm, bolder colors project feelings of excitement and passion. Choose a color scheme that is consistent with your brand identity.
This may take some testing to show the results you want—research by Visually found that dark color schemes showed better traffic growth, lower bounce rates, and longer time on-site than lighter color schemes. Test some options on your own, or work with a web design company to see what resonates with your audience.
White Space Density
White space breaks up the clutter of your content and helps balance a site’s appearance. This is partly why bulleted lists are so effective at drawing attention; yes, they provide information in easily digestible bites, but their separation from regular text makes them stand out and gives your content some room to breathe.
White space is as important to your page real estate as any of the content you produce.
Remember, your goal throughout the design process is to drive audience behavior. Make sure you have a strong CTA that is effectively placed in the hierarchy of your landing page. Color choice, white space use, and scanning patterns are all tools that influence your customers. Applying the best web design principles alongside an optimized marketing strategy can generate some serious results for your marketing efforts.