In this day and age, you’d be forgiven for thinking that most of the websites you visit look mostly the same. And you’d be right – it’s no secret that modern sites favour responsive web design with similar layouts and generic fonts.

Your website is the face of your brand or business – you want it to stand out from your competitors while encouraging traffic to follow a set user journey to a potential outcome. Unfortunately, in the fast-paced, modern world, you only have around 15 seconds to spark a user’s interest – otherwise, they’re gone. Ultimately, it doesn’t take long for anyone – whether they’re a potential customer or not – to decide if they like your site.

That’s why effective web design is so essential for a brand or business; you want to make sure that a user’s first visit to your site is positive, or else they’ll go elsewhere. Recent studies have suggested that the average website session duration is only 2 minutes 17 seconds – meaning that you don’t have a lot of time to make an impact.

The key to making a positive impact with your website could come through utilising innovative and effective web design.

But, before we get there, we have to go back to 1989…

Evolution of web design

1989 – 1993:

There’s no denying that early websites weren’t pretty. Even though Tim Berners-Lee introduced us to the World Wide Web in 1989, HTML (the language at the heart of every site), wasn’t released until 1993. The first HTML websites were text heavy and virtually structured – they featured few graphics and could only be navigated using hyperlinks that were underlined in blue.

1993 – 2000:

In November 1996, Adobe Flash was released. Flash was a software platform that allowed designers to integrate music, video and animations into websites, providing customers with a more dynamic audio-visual experience onsite. Unfortunately, the popularity of Flash wasn’t to last, as it relied heavily on users having the latest Flash plugin installed, which often limited usability.

2000 – 2010:

Following the rise of Adobe Flash came the introduction of CSS in 2000. CSS allowed web developers to define individual styles (like different sizes for headers and subtitles) across multiple pages of a website, without having to code each element. Web design templates became more readily available, which gave everyday people the opportunity to make their own websites – but this was often at the expense of usability and accessibility.

Even though it was initially released in 1996, it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that JavaScript became popular on websites. Websites with JavaScript were more interactive, featured complex animations, clickable buttons and popup menus.

2010 – Present:

The turn of the decade brought with it responsive web design – a revolutionary power that meant a single website could respond and adapt to different display environments on different devices – meaning that users would receive the same experience on their mobile phones, as they would on a desktop.

Modern websites focus on flat design and emphasise functionality over ornamental design (similar to the gimmicks seen in the early CSS websites). They prioritise the content and communication of information, while featuring fewer (or no) buttons or icons, and being reliant on less complex designs.

The benefits of effective web design

As already mentioned, your website is the face of your brand or business. If that isn’t important enough, it’s worth considering the additional benefits of utilising effective web design:

Building brand trust

Having a well-designed, functional website will make your brand look more inviting and trustworthy. Plus, a site that is easy to navigate and well-organised will inspire trust from customers. Recent research has suggested that companies that invest in and are driven by design are 219% more likely to win over customers when they visit their site (in comparison to their poorly-designed counterparts). Doesn’t that say it all?

Higher search engine rankings

In addition to this, it’s a well-known fact that a website that demonstrates good functionality and design is more likely to rank higher on search engines. With more than 35% of referral traffic for websites coming from search, it’s imperative that websites combine effective design with optimised content to rank higher on search strings. Plus, having a secure site can help improve the user experience, while still being accessible.

Improving customer relationships

Finally, a well-designed site can help improve customer relations. A potential customer knows as soon as they land on your site if they are going to follow the intended user journey. You can also combine design with personalisation to collect data through cookies to enhance the user experience for future sessions, by serving them with content that they “want” to see.

Ultimately, there is nothing more reassuring to the modern consumer than knowing that a company they may interact with has a website. Brand trust is fragile, and loyalty is fickle – that’s why it is vital for businesses to utilise effective web design, to encourage customers to make repeat visits to the site, while hopefully completing the customer journey.

Genius websites that have to be seen to be believed

The internet is full of websites that are bucking design trends in favour of innovative additions, asymmetrical layouts and unconventional navigation – here are some of our favourites:

InVision

InVision, the digital product design platform, is popular among designers for creating prototypes that enhance the overall customer experience. This is especially characterised on the homepage of their website. If you right-click on the InVision logo, a popup containing the brand’s logo kit appears. This handy tool makes accessing resources easier for designers, which shows that InVision made the conscious decision to enhance the user experience to include features like this for its core audience.

Anonymous Hamburger Society

Anonymous Hamburger Society is a food menu with a difference. Featuring no vertical scroll, users are instead encouraged to scroll sideways through the site until they find the recipe that they are looking for.

Developed by a team of designers pining for the ultimate burger dinner, the site features a sleek and sophisticated design and combines high-impact images with personal anecdotes about each recipe.

Grim London

Grim London is a site developed to showcase the grizzly past that haunts London. Featuring an eerie loop of grey cloud cover with a desaturated colour palette, the site combines interactive design with custom scrolling. By dragging their way through the site, users can discover the strange and obscure things that may have happened right on their doorstep.

To summarise…

Your website is a powerful tool; you shouldn’t be neglecting it. By knowing when to follow the design trends of the moment and when to utilise the unconventional, it can be possible to design an effective website that makes your brand or business stand out from the crowd. Remember that your site is acting as the online face of the company – you want potential customers to enjoy their experience onsite. Otherwise, it will reflect poorly on how customers view you as a business. Whether you require a brochure website, e-commerce or web-based application… our team of web designers and full-stack developers are ready to tackle your project. Get in touch now.