7 Web Design Best Practices for 2021

The words "web design" on a computer screen with hands typing

In today’s world where more industry has moved online, everyone is setting up a website. I have a neighbor, cousin, nephew, etc. who can make a website. However, that doesn’t mean the website will be effective and promote your business in the best way. It is more important than ever to keep in mind the web design best practices for 2021.

A website is meant to be a full-time promoter of a business, and if it isn’t set up correctly, customers will never know the value the business offers.

With a physical business, broken windows, weeds growing in front of the store, or peeling paint are all signs of a business in distress.  The same principles apply to online business.

Let’s look at the 7 web design best practices for 2021 to make the biggest impact on your business.

1. Simple navigation

When going into a store, it shouldn’t be so filled with things that people can’t physically walk into the space. Just like going into a store, a website shouldn’t so complicated that users can’t navigate the site.

Keep it simple

Don’t try to be cute and come up with fun terminology for customers interacting with the menu of a site. Instead of saying, “Come Meet the Team,” say “About.” Instead of saying, “I’d Love to Hear from You,” say “Contact.” If menu items get too wordy at the top of the page, customers will stop reading and won’t take the time to figure it out. Users of a website know what to expect when it says, “home, about, services, products, contact, etc.” because that’s what they’re used to seeing.

Say what you mean

The same thing goes for navigational buttons on the page. If there’s a free resource, don’t say, “solve all of your problems here.” This doesn’t tell the user where that button will take them or what they get when they click the button. If users have to answer that question for themselves, they are less likely to click on the button. A better option would be to have the button say, “download the resource.” This tells the customer that when they click on that particular button, they will be downloading the resource.

The easier the website is to navigate, the longer users will spend on the website, and the more likely they are to take action.

2. Clear CTA

Call-to-action (CTA) is what customers do when they come to the website. Usually, this is done by making a purchase, subscribing to something, booking an appointment, or filling out a contact form.

The best way to do this is to make the offer immediately clear. The  offer should directly connect with the audience.

The CTA should be placed above the fold (the part of the page that users see before they scroll) so that it stands out to the user right away. Bolder font, different colors, and a clear message should make the call-to-action a simple ask for the user.

3. Clean Design & Visuals

It is important for users to be able to scan through the content in order to find the information.

If the site design is hard to navigate and there is only text in the design, users will have a hard time scanning for the information that they need quickly.

Visual hierarchy is a design practice used to place important information on the page to be found. Just like in outlining an essay, it starts with the title, then headings, subheadings, and last the body of the text. The website should be laid out using the same design principle.

White space is also a design practice to utilize the highlighting of important information. Group pieces of related text together on the page, physically leaving space on the page to separate it from other pieces of information.

To further organize the information on the website, pictures that are related to the content, are used as illustrations. Users don’t want to come to a website to read a novel. Be succinct in the message to get the point across. Break the text up with visual elements.

4. Mobile-first design

At least 50% of website users will be looking at sites from their mobile devices, so making sites mobile-friendly should not be an afterthought. Users viewing websites from their phones expect the quality of the website to be just as good as if they were browsing from their computers.

We’ve all had the experience of visiting a website from our phones and not have it work the same. Whether it’s lacking the functionality or has a totally different design and feel, users in 2021 expect the internet experience to be the same no matter what kind of device they are using.

5. Accessible

Website accessibility means that a website is designed to be used by all users regardless of their abilities.

Some basic things to keep in mind when designing websites with the best accessibility practices:

Give every image alt text. Alt text is used by screen readers to tell a person what an image is about. Images that enhance the content need to have alt text. Without alt text, someone with a visual impairment will not be able to gain value from the image on the website.

Use a color contrast ratio of at least 4.5 to 1. There needs to be a significant contrast between the background color or image and the text that it has over it. Black and white have the greatest color contrast, with other color combinations falling somewhere on the spectrum. The website needs to be visually easy to see for all so that users of the site don’t miss important features because they blend into the page.

Not everyone using a website will be able to scroll through the pages in the usual way.  Keyboard navigation is how people who are not able to use a mouse navigate through a site. If designed in an accessible way, users should be able to tab through a site to navigate to the important features on the page, just as someone would using a mouse.

If you are unsure how accessible a website is, you can have an accessibility audit performed on the website to see how it can become  more accessible.

6. SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) has its own set of best practices to integrate into the design of a website to get better placement in search engine results. The rest of SEO is built over time as the website is used. We’re going to focus on the SEO that’s integrated into the design and setup of a website.

Responsive web design isn’t just a design best practice because users will be accessing websites from differently sized devices, but it will also be rewarded in search engine results.

Having a proper heading structure is also rewarded with better search engine results. Think back to being in school and needing to outline an essay for class. You would start out with the title of the essay, break it down into headings, subheadings, and body information. Website pages should be set up in the exact same way. Search engines crawl the content of the pages and look for information to be set up this way. If the page doesn’t have the proper structure to it, then the search engine doesn’t know what it’s looking at. If it can’t tell what the content is about, it will not rank the website as highly.

Target specific keywords that relate to the content.  Do research on keywords that relate to the content of the website. Use these keywords and their synonyms to show that you are an expert in your field. When people coming to the website search for these specific terms, they will be given your website as a potential result. The more specific you can get in your keywords, the better the results.

7. Site Speed

Site speed is the most important design factor in 2021. If a website takes more than 3 seconds to load it gets ranked lower in search engine results and customers will leave the site to find one that can help them faster.

Having a slow website will frustrate customers causing them not to convert on whatever action they need to take.

When designing a website, speed should be the number one priority. The more design features that are added to a website, the slower it tends to go. In order to make a site as fast as possible, it needs to have all images cropped and compressed. Any videos should be hosted on an external site and linked to or embedded on the website. Lots of animations or moving features on a website also will slow it down. Keep animations to a minimum.

Don’t get slow hosting. Do research and purchase hosting that will be able to meet the speed needs of the site. Changing from shared hosting to hosting with a dedicated environment can mean the difference between a really slow site and a really fast site. The faster a website loads, the more likely customers are to take action. This means more sales, more appointments, more emails, etc.

Conclusion

If a website is going to be a robust asset to your business, you need to know what goes into designing a strong website. Your website needs to be designed well from the beginning and then kept up with as it grows.

Remember when building a business website in 2021:

  • Make it simple to navigate
  • Have a strong CTA
  • Clear design and visuals
  • Useable on all screen sizes
  • Accessible
  • Strong SEO
  • Fast loading times

There are an estimated 7.8 billion people in the world, with approximately 4.93 billion of them having access to the internet. That means that 63.2% of the world’s population uses the internet. From 2000-2020, internet usage increased 1,266%. Invest in the design and development from the beginning to ensure that the end result is a solid product, and grows business in the best way possible.

Book an appointment today with 2 Dogs and a Laptop Website Design & Development to find out if your website meets 2021 web design best practices is working for your business.

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