24 Tried-and-Tested Tips To Be An Outstanding Web Designer Today

web designer

Web designing isn’t a one-trick pony. It is a combination of various skills and tools that work together to give the user, search engines, and businesses a great experience. It’s also a delicate balance between aesthetics and functionality.

Having an aesthetically pleasing website is only one part of the equation. The other part is ensuring the website functions seamlessly and provides a great user experience. If your website is slow to load, confusing to navigate, or doesn’t deliver on its promise, then it’s as good as having no website.

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These are the core ingredients of a successful website. And while they might appear to be simple concepts, the execution can be challenging and outrageously expensive if not done correctly.

Let’s not forget that web designing is constantly evolving, with new technologies and trends emerging daily. What worked a few years ago might not be relevant today.

Web designing is all that and more. It is about creating an online presence that looks good and drives results. Now that we know what outstanding web designing entails, let’s shift our focus to web designers themselves.

So how about we look at 23 things that can make one web designer outstanding and another one average:

#1. How they Leverage Visual Hierarchy

Every webpage has a visual hierarchy. For the uninitiated, visual hierarchy is the arrangement or presentation of elements in a way that determines their relative prominence and the order in which the human eye should see them.

A skilled web designer knows how to use visual hierarchy to guide the user’s attention and create a seamless flow on a webpage.

That includes appropriately using size (big or small), contrast (color and white spaces), and positioning to highlight important elements and guide the user through the page.

Combining these elements effectively can make a website visually appealing and easy to navigate, leading to a positive user experience.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Outstanding web designers also know when to break visual hierarchy rules for creative purposes while still maintaining an overall cohesive design.

#2. Use a Descriptive, Keyword-focused Headline on the Homepage

The homepage is often the first page a user sees when they visit a website. As such, it plays a crucial role in setting the tone and communicating the website’s purpose. The last thing a user wants is to land on a page and ask themselves, “Am I in the right place?”

A strong, clear, and keyword-focused headline on the homepage helps to convey the website’s purpose, immediately capturing the reader’s attention. You don’t have to be clever or witty with your headline. A straightforward and informative headline can do wonders in keeping the user engaged.

Above the Fold

How you display content “above the fold” can make or break a user’s experience on your website.“Above the fo” refers to the portion of a webpage that is visible without scrolling.

Studies show website visitors spend 80% of their time looking at content above the fold. So, be careful not to clutter this area with too much information or distracting elements. Instead, use it strategically by placing your value proposition, call-to-action, and other important information above the fold to capture the user’s attention and encourage them to explore further.

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#3. Don’t Cram All Your Call to Action at the Top

While it’s important to include a call-to-action above the fold, that doesn’t mean you have to cram all your CTAs in one place. Too many CTAs can overwhelm the user and dilute their effectiveness.

A skilled web designer knows how to distribute CTAs strategically throughout a webpage, leading the user on a journey and guiding them toward a conversion.

Chartbeat analyzed over 25 million visits and found that most engagement happens below the fold. So, give your users a reason to scroll down and explore your website by spreading out your CTAs.

#4. Make it Tall

The average user spends around 2.6 seconds scanning a webpage before deciding whether to stay or leave. They land on a page and casually glance over it to see if there’s anything worth reading or exploring further. That is why tall web pages with a vertical layout have become increasingly popular.

It allows for more information to be displayed at once, making it easier for users to quickly scan and find what they’re looking for. You have to answer every question you suspect your visitors want or have been asked in the past. That means providing enough information on your website to address common questions or concerns.

A tall webpage with a vertical layout can accommodate this without overwhelming the user. Ideally, you want to ensure every page has at least 2000 words, which is the average word count for pages that rank on the first page of Google.

#5. Use Negative Space Wisely

Negative or white space is the empty or blank space between elements on a webpage.

Many novice web designers make the mistake of trying to fill every inch of space with content or design elements, resulting in a cluttered and overwhelming webpage.

Outstanding web designers know how to use negative space effectively to create a clean, organized, and visually appealing layout. It allows important elements to stand out, improves readability, and gives the website a more modern and sophisticated look.

#6. Display One Thing at a Time

Some call its widgets, components, or modules, but the idea is the same: presenting one thing at a time.

Breaking content into small chunks and displaying them in sections or modules can help guide users through your webpage. One module should contain clear, concise, specific information that the user can easily digest.

For example, let’s say we’re designing a web page for an e-commerce website. Instead of listing all the products on one long page, we can break them into different categories and display them in separate modules.

So, one module can be dedicated to women’s Clothing, and another to Men’s Clothing.” It helps users easily navigate the website and know which module to go to for a specific product or information.

#7. Stick to Standard Layouts

Using a standard layout doesn’t mean your website has to be boring or unoriginal.

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Sticking to a standard layout can make it easier for users to navigate your website and find what they’re looking for. Weird layouts can confuse and frustrate some users, ultimately driving them to leave your website.

Standard layouts also tend to be more responsive and adaptable on different screen sizes, making it easier for users to access your website from any device.

That brings the question, what’s a standard layout?

According to Orbitmedia’s research, here are the standard elements of a website:

  • Logo in the top-left => 100%
  • Contact in the top-right => 44%
  • Navigation in the header => 88%
  • Value proposition up high => 80%
  • Call-to-action up high => 78%
  • Search in the header
  • Social media icons in the header
  • Social media icons in the footer

Responsive web design has become a standard practice in the industry, as users access websites from various devices with different screen sizes. You want to ensure your website is optimized for all screen sizes and devices, providing a consistent and seamless user experience.

#8. Avoid Tabs and Accordions

Do you know who doesn’t use tabs and accordions on their website? Amazon, Google, Facebook, and other successful websites.

Why? Because they’re not user-friendly at all. Tabs and accordions hide information from the user, forcing them to take an extra step to access it. The only thing users want to do on a website is to find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily.

Don’t make them work for it by hiding it behind tabs or accordions. Instead, display all relevant information on the page, where users can easily see and access it.

#9. Avoid Rotating Sliders and Carousel

Rotating sliders and carousels were once a popular trend in web design.

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But that was like a decade ago. Now, they’re considered outdated and ineffective, with many studies reaching the same conclusion: the messages you include are less likely to be seen and/or get clicked.

Plus, they can slow down the loading speed of your website, driving impatient users away. Instead, you want to use static banner images or a single eye-catching message to convey your most important information.

Removing rotating sliders and carousels will also declutter your webpage, enhancing its visual appeal.

#10. Avoid False Bottoms

Typically, webpages consist of blocks. The first block is often the header (with the navbar and logo).

The second block is the main content section, which consists of a series of sub-blocks. The last block is the footer.

A false bottom occurs when a webpage’s main content section is shorter, darker, or visually different from the rest of the page, creating an illusion of reaching the end. It can confuse users and make them think there’s no more information on the page, making them leave prematurely.

To avoid false bottoms, it helps to ensure your webpage has a consistent layout and design. You can also use subtle design cues such as arrow icons or “scroll down” prompts to encourage users to continue scrolling.

How to Handle Visuals

Let’s move on to the visuals. While visuals such as images, videos, and graphics can enhance a web page’s overall design and user experience, they can also be overused or misused.

Here are some tips for adequately incorporating visuals on your webpage:

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#11. Use Pictures with People

Studies have shown that images with people tend to attract more attention and create a stronger emotional connection with users. People’s faces are a uniquely powerful imagery. From birth, we’re programmed to recognize and respond to people’s faces.

Using images with people can create a more personalized and relatable experience for users, making them feel connected with real individuals instead of just interacting with a webpage.

However, be mindful of the images you choose. First and foremost, they should be relevant to the content and purpose of your webpage. They should also be diverse and inclusive, representing a variety of ages, genders, races, and cultures.

#12. Avoid Stock Photos

Stock images aren’t good for your website. They’re generic, overused, and lack originality. They can be expensive and may not accurately represent your brand or products.

Here’s what you want to do instead: use your own original images or hire a professional photographer to capture the essence of your brand and products. It doesn’t have to be expensive either – with the rise of high-quality smartphone cameras, you can take stunning photos yourself.

#13. Use People’s Faces as Visual Cues

People’s faces can be an incredible tool for directing users’ attention. Studies have shown that we naturally follow the gaze of someone’s eyes, making them a compelling visual cue.

You can use this to your advantage by strategically placing images on your webpage with people looking towards important information or call-to-action.

For example, if you’re promoting a sale or new product, include an image of someone looking for that item. That will draw users’ attention and encourage them to take action.

#14. Use Arrows as Visual Cues

Faces aren’t the only powerful visual cue — arrows are just as good, if not better.

They naturally guide users’ attention toward a specific direction or action, making them great for highlighting important information or guiding users through your website.

Just be sure to use the arrows sparingly, as too many can create visual clutter and confuse users. Use them only when necessary to avoid overwhelming your audience.

#15. Use Colours to Guide Visitors’ Attention Toward Your Call to Action

Colours have a direct emotional and psychological impact on us. Certain colours can evoke specific feelings or actions, making them a powerful tool for guiding users toward your call to action.

For example, bright and bold colours such as red or orange can create a sense of urgency and encourage immediate action. On the other hand, softer and cooler colours like blue or green can evoke trust and calmness, making them suitable for more subtle call-to-action.

Be sure to choose colours that align with your brand and message and use them strategically to guide users towards the desired action.

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#16. The Von Restorff Effect

In the 1930s, a German psychiatrist named Hedwig von Restorff discovered that when presented with a list of similar items, people are likelier to remember the one that’s different or stands out.

This phenomenon is known as the “Von Restorff Effect” and can be applied to web design by using contrast elements such as colours, shapes, and sizes to make important information stand out on your webpage.

For example, if you have a call-to-action button, make it a different colour or size than the rest of the text to grab users’ attention and increase its memorability.

#17. Keep Navigation Simple and Intuitive

Navigation is a crucial aspect of web design – it helps users find their way around your webpage and access the information they need.

To ensure a positive user experience, keep your navigation simple and intuitive by using clear labels, organized menus, and logical categories. Avoid overwhelming users with too many options or confusing them with unclear navigation buttons.

You also want to ensure your navigation is accessible and consistent throughout the website so users can easily find their way back to previous pages or sections.

#18. Be Descriptive with Your Page Titles

Page titles are often the first thing users see when they land on your webpage, and they can significantly impact their decision to stay or leave.

Generic labels like home, about, services, blog, or contact won’t give users any idea of what to expect from that page.

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For example, instead of using “contact,” you can use “get in touch with us” or “let’s collaborate.” That adds a personal touch and sets clear expectations for the page content, making it more inviting for users to explore.

#19. Be Careful with the Pages You Link to

Having the same nav bar and footer on every page of your website is the industry standard. But remember, you’re taking the user through a journey, and you want to control this journey.

Usually, your user will land on your website through a blog post, landing page, or product page. Once they finish reading that page, you want to direct them towards the next step in the journey. Ideally, your pages should lead users towards your call-to-action or intended conversion goal.

For instance, there’s no need to include a link to your blog in your checkout or service page. There’s no sense in that, considering the user is already at the final stage of their journey.

Here are the possible steps:

  • How to Blog Post => Product Reviews Post => Product Page
  • Landing page => Contact Page/Sign-Up Form
  • Home page => About Us Page => Services Page

In each of these examples, the user is being taken through a natural progression from one page to another.

However, if your navigation bar and footer have links to other random pages such as “our team” or “recent news,” you distract the user from the intended journey and potentially lose interest.

#20. To Be Honest, There’s No Need to Having Social Media Icons in Your Website’s Navigation

It’s become a trend to include social media icons in the navigation bar of a website. While this may seem like a good idea, it actually serves no purpose. Including it in your footer should be enough. 

Having social media icons in your navigation bar takes valuable space and can be visually distracting. Instead of encouraging users to explore your website, it drives them away to your social media pages.

If you want users to engage with your social media, strategically place icons or links within the content or on landing pages where it makes sense.

Writing

Now, let’s talk about the words on your website. We’ve already talked about having a keyword-focused headline.

web designer

#21. Use Short and Concise Sentences

In today’s fast-paced world, people don’t have time to read long and complex sentences. People get distracted easily, so you want to keep your sentences short and to the point. That not only makes your content easier to read but also more engaging and impactful.

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Web style recommends keeping paragraph lines under 50 to 60 characters long, including spaces.

#22. Using Meaningful Subheadings Can Help Keep Your Visitors Engaged

Subheadings are essential for breaking up large chunks of text and making your content more scannable.

They also serve as a guide for users, allowing them to scan the page and find the information they want quickly.

Instead of Using:

  • Our Products => Use: Discover Our Top-Selling Products
  • Our Services => Use: How We Can Help You Succeed
  • Meet Our Team => Use: Get to Know Our Dedicated Team Members or the Digital Marketing Experts Making it Happen

Using meaningful subheadings makes your content more exciting and also helps with SEO.

#23. Keep It Simple

Your visitors aren’t lawyers, doctors, or SEO experts. They don’t want to be overloaded with jargon or complex terminology.

They wouldn’t need your services or products if they understood your industry jargon. Learn to keep your language simple, easy to understand, and relatable to your target audience.

It doesn’t matter if they have PhDs or high school diplomas. Everyone appreciates simplicity and clarity.

So, instead of saying, “We offer scalable solutions for your business needs,” you can say, “We have flexible options to help your business grow.”

#24. Serial Position Effect

When creating a list of items, you might want to place the most important items at the beginning and end. That’s known as the “Serial Position Effect.”

Studies have shown that people remember things better when presented first or last in a list.

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In other words, readers’ attention is at its weakest in the middle, so you want to ensure your most critical information is at the beginning and end of a list.

This technique can be applied to any content on your website, whether it’s a list of services, products, or even testimonials.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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