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Function Over Form: Smart Design Online

Kaila Garrison
Product Marketing Manager


When visitors choose your website—whether from a search, a recommendation or an embedded link—they are looking for something. They have a need, and they are convinced by your company’s name, custom URL, company description or accompanying copy that what you have to offer may be exactly what they’re looking for. When they arrive, whether or not you have the opportunity to engage them further depends on one thing: the online experience.


Much of that experience will be your website’s design. Here are six things to keep in mind to make sure your design helps (and doesn’t hurt) you: 


  1. Make it fast. This may not seem like a design consideration. But it is. Time has become of the essence. According to Kissmetrics,  47 percent of people expect a webpage to load in two seconds or less. Everything you pack into your site has to work quickly. It may be cool. It may be hip. It may be effective. But most of your visitors are time-starved, and if it takes too long, they’ll never see it.

  2. Make it easy to read. Type should be primary in your design. It’s more than just font selection. Fonts that are easy to read and of adequate size with manageable line lengths will communicate best. Before you reduce your font size to include more story, edit your story. (See Number 1.)

  3. Make it easy on the eyes. The wrong color combination can cause eyestrain and, with it, website fatigue. That’s not subjective—it’s physiological. As a start, incorporate Color Scheme Designer into your planning. Or take a deeper dive into color theory in Web design [LINK to http://webdesign.tutsplus.com/articles/design-theory/an-introduction-to-color-theory-for-web-designers/].

  4. Use graphics galore, but make sure they are relevant. Images, illustrations and other graphics make for a better user experience. People pictures are great, but smiling couples are über-generic. Show people, but show them engaged in what you’re selling. Demonstrate. Accentuate! And if at all possible, use custom photography instead of stock shots that could pop up anywhere.

  5. Make your main thing your main thing. Make sure your design is intuitive so that visitors land where they expect to. Web technology and innovation should factor into your design. If your visitors are looking for a bathtub, make sure a bathtub appears quickly. Don’t make them sift through pages of faucets and showerheads first.

  6. Don’t get cute. Finally, don’t try to win creative awards with your site. Engagement and ease of use are key criteria for good design. Your site may be pretty, clever, innovative or even revolutionary. But if it loses the focus of why the visitor came in the first place–to learn about and hopefully purchase your product or service–it’s not a well-designed site, no matter how many awards it may win.


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