When you’re developing a website, you need to keep site users in mind. The goal is to direct, control and hold their focus, but how? Through design, of course!
You want site visitors to land and spend time on your site, reading content, shopping, and interacting in other ways. Engagement is essential, otherwise you lose site visitors. Especially in these days of shrinking attention spans and busy lives.
In order to keep them on path and end up responding to your call to action, you’ll need to direct site users. One great method is to use design elements to engage and direct visitors along the path you’ve created on your site.
Let’s take a look at several design elements that can help your visitors stay on track.
Movement attracts attention. Do you notice when a fly’s buzzing around your head? Yes, and your attention is given, at least to a few seconds, to getting the fly out of the way. It’s hard to ignore that buzzing fly!
You can use movement on your website to capture the attention of site visitors, too. Much like the buzzing fly, animations can attract people’s attention. Animations can include anything from slideshows to scrolling effects and videos to increase the time visitors spend on your site. But you must use movement in the correct way.
For instance, videos are a great animation tool. They can be a way to dispense information about products, give site users a break from the text, etc. And video landing pages can garner you an increase in conversion rates by as much as 80%, according to Unbounce.
For ideas on how to effectively use videos on your site, check out your competitors’ sites. And remember that your video and other animations should tell a story to make it more appealing to viewers.
2). Directional imagery
Images can be used to direct the attention and guide site users through your site. In fact, they can even improve sales.
Imagery can include photos or graphics that can direct the attention. Things to keep in mind when using imagery of any type:
- Keep images relevant: make sure the images are relevant to the content on the page. Make sure images are consistent with your business style, and work with your brand.
- Use images to direct the eyes: your images need to be placed strategically in order to direct users’ gaze. To determine the optimal placement of images on your site’s pages, use a heat mapping test. These tests can show you where people look on your site and its pages. From there, you can determine the best placement of images.
- And don’t worry about being subtle—people do appreciate being pointed in the right direction. It saves them effort and time. Use signs, arrows or whatever is appropriate to direct your site visitors’ gaze to the next step.
3). Make use of contrasting styles
This method can also be used to guide visitors around your webpage. If done well, they won’t even realize they’ve been guided around the page.
Make use of contrasting colours, shapes, sizes, space or a combination of these elements. Keep in mind that contrasting doesn’t mean element should clash. On the contrary, clashing design elements will have your site visitors leaving before they even have a chance to gain the information they’re looking for.
When it comes to space, use white space creatively. White space can be used to draw attention or emphasize specific parts of your page. Make sure there’s space between the lines on the page, including space between paragraphs and images.
White space can also make reading text more comfortable on a webpage, which can also keep readers on the page.
When it comes to contrasting colours, use them carefully. Create a primary palette that’s pleasant and easy on the eyes. Make sure they fit your brand, too. Use contrasting colours to draw attention to information you want to stand out. For instance, if your site colours are blue and white, you might want to choose a bright colour, such as yellow, to draw attention to your call to action (CTA).
Using size contrasts is also an effective way to draw attention. Use size to establish hierarchy, such as with headings. Make sure your headings are larger than your subheadings, for instance. You can also use contrasting sizes in images, icons and other design elements.
4). De-Clutter your site’s layout
Another way to keep users on your site is to make sure your layout is clean and uncluttered. Nothing causes site visitors to leave faster than a cluttered, confusing site.
Navigation should be logical and easy to find. It should also be in the same place on each webpage on your site. Make it easy for visitors to quickly find the information they need.
5). Use responsive design
Everyone around the world uses a multitude of different devices, with each device having a specific screen size. Think of having to design for literally hundreds of thousands of screen sizes!
Responsive design works to make your site look great on any device and screen size, which makes your site mobile-friendly. Being mobile-friendly ensures your site rises in the search results, especially on Google’s search engine, which means you’ll gain more traffic in the long-term.
6). Keep your design elements consistent
A sloppy, ill-designed site will quickly cost you traffic, which mean visitors will quickly leave. To avoid this problem, make sure your design elements and layout are consistent across the entire website. This means that design elements including colours, navigation, etc. are the same on each page.
7). Design for your target audience
Finally design your website with your target audience in mind. Consider the types of devices they’ll use to access the website. In addition, consider your site visitors’ gender, age, location, etc. Who are they? What do they like? Answer these questions and then design your site to please your visitors to encourage site engagement.
Creative, correct use of these design elements will keep users focused on your site. They’ll be happy to engage with the site and be guided to the CTA or buy the products and services you have to offer. Just be sure to design with your target audience in mind, and you won’t go wrong.
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent a decade working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.