What Your Website Says About You.
I’ve come over all Marty McFly: disorientated, dazed and confused. My super-smartphone tells me it’s 2014 but my environment seems very noughties; nineties even. Have I travelled back in time unknowingly?
The reason for this bewilderment can be attributed to the proliferation of poorly designed websites. It seems everywhere I look, I am bombarded with shockingly outdated design: clip-art, derivative stock photos and garish colours! I feel like making a banner and taking to the streets of Cornwall shouting: ‘DOWN WITH CLIP-ART! Ra ra ra!’
Personal irks aside, I do want to write about the importance of good design including typography, colour and overall style. Your website encapsulates your business. 1990s design equates to a business which is out of touch, whether this is an accurate reflection or not. After all, perception is reality.
It’s time to say goodbye to outdated bevelling and clunky rectangular boxes set atop a background of wasted space. Contemporary web design is fluid; think swipey and slidey. Think Minority Report. The percentage of internet users browsing via tablets and smartphones is rising exponentially; if you wish to be perceived as modern and relevant, your website needs to respond to this trend.
Of course, web design, much like clothing and wallpaper, is subjected to modern trends and trends will change. I am not suggesting everyone should switch to flat design, as demonstrated with the Cornish Pixel website, but if it’s good enough for Google, Apple and Microsoft, it’s a trend we’re happy to follow; for now.
But if it’s not for you, and you prefer more traditional design, be sure to bear in mind the following design choices:
Selecting the typeface for your website should be a fundamental consideration in the design process. Many websites fail to consider how their typeface contributes to their overall identity. How do you want your customers to feel when reading the copy on your site? Your choice of typeface needs to strike a balance between legibility/accessibility and the image you’re trying to portray to customers.
As a failsafe, select a clean, easy-to-read font which is modern but visually accessible. Steer away from bubbly cartoon typography. This isn’t the 80s.
The colour of your website should have less to do with your personal preference and more to do with how you want your customers to feel. I love candyfloss pink and purple spots but using such a colour theme for the Cornish Pixel website would undermine our professionalism.
There seems to be a growing trend for the use of minimal colour and many sites are opting for one or two colours with varying shades. Simplicity is key.
Black websites with lime green fonts belong firmly in yesteryear. Black can be a very sophisticated choice when paired with a complementary hue. When combined with flashing neon, it’s criminal; unless you’re selling services behind a glass window in Amsterdam.
Again, think about how you are trying to make your customers feel. If you’re going for acid-house-party, feel free to stick with the neon. But, if you want your customers to stay on your website and to enjoy the experience, welcome them in with non-offensive colours and tones. If your website could speak, it should ideally say, ‘Hey there, come on in. Take a seat on this comfy sofa; put your feet up and stay a while.’
The right photo will say more about your business than a 1000 word ‘about us’ page. As will an image taken from the uninspiring galleries of Clipart. Ideally, you will have your own photos/videos to use and will not have thieved them from a competitor’s website or Google Images.
If you decide to use one of the many stock photo websites available, avoid those outdated David Brent style photos. No one wants to see pictures of imaginary team members shaking hands or unoriginal bar charts with the words, ‘GROW your business NOW!’
An old cliché, but customers really do buy with their eyes. Bake cakes for a living? Make sure your website visitors can almost taste them. Be gone microscopic thumbnail snaps; say hello to HUGE enticing images.
If you’re restricted by budget and do not have relevant images, take advantage of Instagram. A simple photo can be instantly glammed-up and uploaded to your website via an Instagram feed. An incredibly simple and fairly inexpensive solution.
Last night, I watched Gordon Ramsay berate a chef for squirting balsamic vinegar squiggles over a plate of droopy salad leaves. Apparently NO ONE squiggles balsamic vinegar these days; it was very much an early noughties design which exposed this particular chef as being a bit crap.
And just like balsamic squiggles, prawn cocktail and dado rails, web design is vulnerable to changes in tastes. By implementing the advice above, hopefully you can prevent that Back to the Future feeling I have been experiencing of late.
Next week, I’ll be discussing the importance and power of effective web content.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comment box below.
Have a good day.