Everyone loves to have choices, but sometimes as a consumer, we are faced with too many and we feel overwhelmed. On any given day, an average consumer is targeted by countless advertisements and pitches vying for their attention and dollars. For example, when you walk into a firework shop, it can be extremely overwhelming when the walls are lined with so many firework options you don’t know what to choose.

The same concept applies to websites and marketing; you want to give your viewers a clear path to follow so they can make their own decisions about what’s best. Think of your website like a BBQ during the 4th of July – the main dishes you will find at the BBQ are hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, maybe some fruit, and beverages. Normally, people don’t add too much else to the menu like sushi or fancy desserts because it would stray too far away from the tradition of the day. Now, design your website the same way by keeping things clear and simple so that your users know what they’re going to get and have an easier path to making a decision.

Here are 5 best practices to incorporate into your website design to make it more user-friendly and stay true to the basics:

  1. Focus on your audience’s needs

Your audience is not on your website to look around, click on cool videos, or see the new graphics you designed. Consumers go to a website with a very specific purpose and if they don’t find a way to achieve their goal in a timely manner, they are likely to leave very quickly. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, “most users stick around less than 59 seconds. So, if you don’t capture the user’s attention in less than a minute, you’ve lost them.” You have a minute to capture your audience and keep them on your website. So give them what they are expecting by providing attractive calls to action (CTAs) that direct the user exactly to where you want them to go. Make these CTAs stand out in different colors than the surrounding text or image and use appropriate text to drive users to take further action.

  1. Use more white space

Leveraging the use of white space on your site is critical because it makes your content more legible while also allowing the user to focus on the elements surrounding the text. According to CrazyEgg, “a confused mind never buys” and that white space around text and titles increases a user’s attention by 20%. White space can also make your site feel open, fresh, and modern, and if your branding follows the same theme, this can easily be communicated to the users on your site. Some find that using too much white space takes away the room for other valuable content that can be displayed on the same page, but it’s all about balance. The key is to include the highest priority elements at the top of the page, or ‘above the fold,’ and surround that with some space to highlight the most important items.

  1. Get to the point with bullets (literally)

Keep  the content of your site simple and user-friendly. You are the experts in your industry, so save the complicated explanation for the board room and keep your website simple so that users can easily understand who your company is and what they have to offer. One great way to do this is by using bullet points wherever you can. Bullets will enable the user to quickly get all the information they want: benefits, ways your company can solve their pain points, and key features of your products/services, all in a short amount of time. This will make your content more attractive and will enable the user to get all the information they need without overwhelming them with thick, boring paragraphs.

  1. Don’t stock up on stock photography

Stock photography is great when we need images for blog posts, social media posts, and ideas to create our own images. The downfall of stock photography, however, is that users are getting better and faster at identifying when they’ve seen the same photo across dozens of different sites. It makes your brand feel impersonal and the last thing your company wants to do when it has 60 seconds to impress a user is not differentiate itself from the competition. Stock photography has its time and place, but be true to your brand and show off photos of your team, or unique photos about your industry, which is much more likely to resonate with users than a generic business photo that’s been recycled and reused. Plus, when you use relevant images that are unique to your brand, they help support the surrounding content and provide a text break for readers.

  1. Last but not least, be consistent

Consistency means making everything match. Heading sizes, font choices, coloring, button styles, spacing, design elements, illustration styles, photo choices, etc. Everything should be themed on-brand and to make your design coherent across all pages. In order to provide your user with a beautiful and seamless experience as they navigate through your site, it’s important that they know they’re still on your website. Drastic design changes from one page to the other can lead your user to feel lost and confused and to lose trust in your site.

These are just a few simple tricks to get you started on the path to a cleaner, more organized, and user-friendly website. So which will you choose this 4th of July, hot dog or hamburger? Designing your website doesn’t have to be rocket science. It’s about putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and including the items that they would be interested in or find the most value in.  If you would like, here’s  an in-depth look at our longer list of 25 Website Must Haves to include on your site and if you would like help on a new strategy or design for your site, please contact us!