12 website design tips to boost user engagement

Ever clicked on a website only to find it’s not all it’s cracked up to be?

The menu’s a maze, pop-ups are popping off (not in a good way), and the content quality is… let’s just say, lacking.

GIF Source: Giphy

Let’s face it, in this digital age where user engagement is king, your website has to be a showstopper. It’s got to reel people in and keep them hooked.

Sound complicated? Fear not! This blog is your lifeline. 

You’ll get 12 powerful yet practical web design tips to turn your site from drab to fab and boost user engagement. So, buckle up and get ready to dive in!

Table of contents

So, you’re browsing a website, right? The design might catch your eye, but what you’re really after is information. You want it fast, and you want it easy. 

That’s exactly why your website design needs to prioritize usability.

How can you do that? Start by creating a simple user-friendly menu bar. Place it in the top header, stocked with all the info your visitors are hunting for. Think of it as a roadmap guiding visitors through your business website.

But how do you even know what users want to know? Well, here’s a few web design nuggets just for you:

  • Talk to your customers. Find out what they’re looking for when they land on your site.
  • Keep your menu names short and sweet, but make sure they’re descriptive.
  • Organize your content. Use categories and drop-down lists to keep things tidy.
  • Don’t forget a persuasive call to action (CTA). It’s like a friendly signpost pointing visitors in the right direction.

Now, you might be wondering: should I keep the menu simple? Well, yes and no.

Sure, a minimalist menu cuts down clutter. But the number of menu items really depends on what your site’s all about.

For an e-commerce website, for example, you’ll need menu options for products, categories, and so on. So, a solid menu with drop-down lists is your best bet.

But if you’re crafting a personal website, you can keep things light. Stick to the essentials: About Me, Portfolio, and Contact Information.

In short, a straightforward menu bar makes a great first impression. Just remember to choose a menu style that fits your site, and you’ll see user engagement start to climb.

Tip #2: Befriend colors and fonts 

Did you know that colors are one of the most important parts of web design? According to a survey by Top Design Firms, 39% of people said they’re drawn to the colors on a professional website. 

When you nail your site’s color palette, you can:

  • Grab visitors’ attention
  • Boost engagement
  • Enhance readability 
  • Drive sales
  • Win customer loyalty

And when you add the magic of fonts and typography into the mix? You’ve got a powerful tool to stir up emotions in your site visitors.

But there’s more! A Hubspot report found that just changing a CTA button color from green to red increased conversion rates shot by 21%

That’s the power of color.

Fonts, on the other hand, can make your brand pop and boost awareness.

So how do you pick the right colors and fonts to supercharge user engagement? Here are some font-focused tips:

  • Do your homework. Discover what’s out there.
  • Consider font file size to avoid missing characters.
  • Stay adaptable. Browsers update, and so should your fonts.
  • Pick versatile fonts that work across devices. Test them, and then test them again.
  • Consistency is key. If a font is a hit with users, stick with it! 
  • Try before you buy. Use services that let you test fonts first.

Now, let’s talk about your other favorite design element, color:

  • Understand your audience. A background color that appeals to millennials might not work for seniors.
  • Choose a color scheme that reflects your brand’s values and resonates with your audience.
  • Use contrasting colors to guide the user journey.
  • Play with the psychology of colors. Choose ones that stir up the emotions you want in users.
  • Conduct A/B testing to ensure your color choices are hitting the mark.

Remember, when choosing a color scheme, assign colors based on their importance within your site. 

In other words, follow the laws of visual hierarchy.

Tip #3: Master the art of visual hierarchy

Visual hierarchy isn’t just a rule – it’s one of the most useful design processes to master. Imagine it as your aide-de-camp, guiding you on how to arrange visual elements on your site. 

Colors, sizes, placement – your assistant has it all covered to create a well-ordered and appealing look.

Why is this important? It’s all about guiding your visitors’ eyes. You get to decide which design elements they see first, second, and so on. 

Take a bold heading at the top of your webpage and a tiny legal bar at the bottom, for instance. Guess which one gets noticed first?

And yes, this can boost user engagement. It’s simple, really. People interact more with what they can easily see. 

A big, bright CTA at the top of your webpage is going to attract more attention than a low-contrast one hidden among images in the middle of the page.

Even better, mastering visual hierarchy can help you direct your users’ attention where you want it.

So, how do you become a visual hierarchy guru?

Step 1: save this chart.

Infographic on 'Visual Hierarchy,' contrasting 'Easy to Miss' vs. 'Hard to Miss' design elements.
Visual hierarchy laws: Because some elements just don’t know their place.

Start by understanding that smaller, low-contrast elements will have less visual prominence, and vice versa. Don’t forget to experiment, too. 

Visual hierarchy can be a complex beast. So, create different versions and showcase them to your users and colleagues to see which one hits the mark.

Tip #4: Let data be your guide

Ever scratch your head trying to figure out why users aren’t clicking on your website? 

It could be lackluster content, a poor user experience, or a design that’s falling flat. 

But here’s the deal: you can’t just guess.

For starters, you could be wrong. 

Guessing can lead you down the wrong path. Imagine spending time and resources to improve your content, only to find your engagement numbers haven’t budged. 

It’s a frustrating game. Where nobody wins.

GIF Source: Giphy

So, what’s the solution? 

Data, my friend, is your guiding star. It offers invaluable insights into traffic and user behavior, revealing where your visitors go and what they do on your site. With this knowledge, you can plug any leaks and get your site shipshape.

But how do you collect this data? 

Start by identifying key data points to monitor, like:

  • Page views.
  • Click-through rate (CTR).
  • Time spent on page.
  • Bounce rate.
  • Conversion rates.

Next, arm yourself with the right tools to gather and analyze this data. Here are a few you might consider:

  • Web analytics tools like Google Analytics can track user behavior, conversion rates, and site traffic.
  • Click-tracking tools, such as Everflow or ClickMagick, can pinpoint where users are clicking and how long they’re interacting with your content.
  • Feedback surveys gathered through pop-ups, embedded forms, or emails can provide firsthand insight into user experience and preferences.
  • A/B testing tools A/B testing tools like Google Optimize allow you to create different web pages and see which ones users prefer.
  • Website funnels, like ClickFunnels, can map out the customer journey on your website.

Remember, using data helps you find areas that need improvement. But be smart when implementing changes so your site’s speed doesn’t take a hit.

Tip #5: Unleash lightning-fast page speed

Some might see good web design as creating a digital masterpiece, akin to Michelangelo’s ‘The Last Judgment.’

However, in the digital world, it’s not just about artistic expression. What really counts is how quickly your website loads when a visitor lands on it for the first time.

Here’s why: A Google study revealed that over 50% of mobile visitors will abandon a page if it takes more than three seconds to load. Another report showed that for every extra second of load time, the conversion rate drops by 4.42%.

So, what’s the takeaway? Your website needs to load at lightning speed to keep users engaged. ⚡

To get started, use a free tool like Pingdom or Google PageSpeed Insights to measure your current load time. Then, consider these options to send your site’s speed into the stratosphere:

  • Opt for a web hosting solution designed for speed, like SiteGround. These providers steer clear of shared hosting, so your site doesn’t have to compete for resources.
  • Compress and optimize your images. Change their format, enable lazy loading, and resize them using plugins like WP Smush without sacrificing quality.
  • Cache your web page. This reduces the server’s workload by storing copies of your website. Your site’s host can cache the webpage for you or you can enable a caching plugin like the W3 Total Cache to do this.
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to distribute your site’s files across selected data centers. This reduces the distance data travels between host servers and users’ browsers, so your page content loads from a nearby server.
  • Be ruthless with plugins. Disable or delete the ones you don’t need.

The bottom line? Websites that load quickly look and feel better, and keep users engaged for longer. 🤷

In a perfect world, there’d be a magic spell to achieve this. But since we don’t have that luxury, the next best thing is to harness the power of visceral reactions.

Tip #6: Stir up visceral reactions

What’s the first impression users get when they land on your site? Is it so captivating they can’t look away? 

That’s the power of visceral reactions – that immediate, emotional wow response users have when interacting with your website and seeing great aesthetics and visual elements

Like this NASA website. 👇

GIF Source: NASA

They’ve used engaging videos of Earth’s scenery and climate issues to inspire visitors to click and learn more.

When your website sparks a positive visceral reaction, it can help you:

  • Catch users’ attention
  • Forge a strong connection
  • Make a memorable first impression
  • Shape their perception of your brand
  • Reduce bounce rates
  • Boost interaction with the site
  • Guide users toward taking specific actions

The goal is to imprint your brand in their minds, so they think of you when anything remotely related comes up.

So, how do you evoke this response in web design?

It’s all about the aesthetics and visual elements. Use eye-catching images, colors, and fonts that resonate with your audience. Ensure these elements are memorable and can adapt to different devices. 

Which leads us to our next tip…

Tip #7: Embrace responsive design 

Story time!

Did you know that in Q4 of 2022, it was reported that 95% of global internet users tapped into the web via mobile devices? And almost 94% of them did it through smartphones. 

Chances are, more than 60% of you reading this are doing so on a mobile device.

So, what’s the takeaway? Mobile devices have become our go-to gadgets. They’re portable, lightweight, and practically an extension of ourselves.

For you as a web designer, this means one thing: responsive web design is a must. Your audience will be visiting from all sorts of devices, and they need to easily access your site.

Here are some tips for responsive web designs:

  • Make navigation a breeze with icons paired with text, collapsible menus, and dropdowns. Keep core pages easy to spot.
  • Plan your content organization before designing. Prioritize crucial information and ensure a smooth flow of ideas.
  • Use responsive infographics.
  • Be concise with your words.
  • Harness the power of white space to highlight key areas and create breaks in your design.
  • Stick to design elements that can adapt to small screen sizes.
  • Resize your images.
  • Keep your overall layout simple.

Remember, responsive design means your site adapts seamlessly to a PC or mobile device, depending on the user’s preference. 

And don’t forget to include a search box – it’ll make your responsive design even more engaging by helping users find what they’re looking for quickly.

A search box is like a magic portal. Users type in what they’re looking for and – voila – they’re whisked away to relevant pages. In short, a search box makes navigation a breeze for your visitors.

But remember, it needs to be well-placed and visible. 

Here are some tips for designing the perfect search bar:

  • Make sure it includes a search button and text field.
  • Add autosuggest to help users complete their search.
  • Consider placeholder text, like ‘Type text here’, to guide users.
  • Ensure the box and button are large enough to see easily.
  • Include an icon and cursor in the box.

With a search bar making navigation smooth for your users, you can also help them access web pages more easily by improving your site’s internal linking structure. 

Speaking of which…

Tip #9: Boost your site’s inner network

Picture your website’s inner network like a digital nervous system (but not as gross), with internal links acting as the nerves connecting different web pages. 

These links not only guide visitors and Google to crucial pages, but they also help establish relationships between content. This way, search engines can identify the topics covered by different pages and posts.

Who benefits from a well-structured inner network? Three key players:

  • The users
  • The search engine
  • The site owner

A solid linking structure makes it easier for users and search engines to find high-quality content, boosting your search ranking. For site owners, this translates to improved user engagement, more clicks generated by website visitors, more page views, and lower bounce rates.

To optimize your internal linking structure, try these tips:

  • Visualize the ideal structure of your site.
  • Identify your most important content and decide which links will lead to and from it, like from your homepage or landing page to your site’s copy.
  • Include navigational links.
  • Add links to new or recent posts.
  • Link to your website’s popular posts.

Make sure your linking structure features descriptive anchor text guiding users on what to do next. It should also be relevant to your audience’s interests and introduce new pages for users to explore

Most importantly, make sure none of the pages on your site lead to a dead end. 😵

Tip #10: Avoid dead ends

You know that annoying moment when you’re using Google Maps and it tells you to turn right when there’s clearly no right turn? 

That’s a dead end, and it’s just as frustrating on a website. Web users experience dead ends when they hit a wall and are stuck on a page, unsure of what to do next. It’s like being trapped in a maze with no exit in sight. 

The result? They leave.

To keep people engaged with your site, you must eliminate these dead ends.

Ensure each page on your site follows a logical flow, guiding users towards an action or valuable content they might find interesting. 

Think about how Google’s search engine page has ‘People also ask’ or ‘Related Searches.’ Their goal is to encourage more interaction with their page. That’s exactly what you need to do to boost user engagement.  

A good way to do that is to target the right sources for your audience. 

Tip #11: Target the right people

Boosting user engagement is all about reaching the right people – those who are most likely to interact with your site, get hooked, and keep coming back for more

In short, you need to know your target audience and aim your efforts squarely at them.

It’s like this: what’s the point of showing a gambling site to someone searching for electronics? Exactly. There’s no point!

So, how do you zero in on the right audience for your site?

  • Scope out your competitors’ audience. Check out their social media and see who’s engaging the most with their pages. Odds are, they’re your audience too.
  • Chat with your clients about their needs.
  • Run surveys to learn about people interested in your brand identity.
  • Use the information you’ve gathered to create personas for your audience.

Remember, in the ever-evolving world of web design, flexibility is key. As new ideas emerge every day, staying updated will ensure your users keep engaging with what you’re putting out there.

Web design trends are always on the move, continually evolving to meet user needs. So, it’s essential to stay one step ahead and be ready to adapt when new trends appear.

In the meantime, here are some current design trends to have on your radar:

  • Interactive user interface (UI). This is a cocktail of design, gesture, animation, and style, all working together to create a seamless user experience.
  • Sustainability. This involves designing your site in an eco-friendly way that doesn’t harm our planet. For example, you might limit the use of video content.
  • Interactive user voice interface: This nifty trend lets users interact with your site simply by speaking to it. Pretty cool, huh?
  • Accessibility: This is all about making your site accessible to users, regardless of their physical ability.

Hungry for more details? Check out this comprehensive overview of web design trends.

Tip #13: Send in the calvary

When it comes to designing a website, sometimes you need to rally the troops. 

GIF Source: Giphy

And by troops, we mean your colleagues, stakeholders, and clients.

Why? Team members and stakeholders can bring fresh perspectives that could be game-changers. And clients? They often have a knack for knowing what makes users tick. 

How do you make this collaboration magic happen? With a handy tool like, say, MarkUp.io or something. 

It lets you share live websites with anyone so they can leave pixel-perfect, contextual comments for you. Download the Chrome extension to make the process even easier.

Time for a feedback fiesta!

Here’s how it works:

  • Enter the website you need feedback on.
  • Click the extension and select MarkUp.
  • Click Create a MarkUp or Open a MarkUp. This opens the site within MarkUp.io.
  • Now you can share it with clients or stakeholders. 👍

Oh, and it doesn’t have to be a live website. You can share web designs that are still in the works.

And it doesn’t stop with live websites. You can also share web designs still in the works. Just log in to MarkUp.io, upload the assets to create a MarkUp and share the link with your collaborators. Simple as that!


And there you have it – the end of this guide. 

With these tips under your belt, you’re on your way to creating great designs that will boost user engagement beyond your wildest dreams. 

Now, let’s get to work!

Your turn

Designing a website is a bit like a dance – there’s a lot of movement, a lot of back-and-forth. 

You create a design, then you need stakeholders and clients to give it the thumbs up before passing it on to the developer.

Sounds straightforward, right? But let’s be real – it can be a headache, especially if you’re doing it old school. Downloading design files, attaching them to emails, asking for reviews… It’s enough to make your head spin. 😫

That’s why MarkUp.io was created. This nifty collaboration tool lets you share your designs and ask for reviews all from your browser, no matter what platform you’re designing on.

No more endless emails. No more screenshot chaos. Just smooth, streamlined collaboration.

So, why not give it a spin?

Sign up for a free 30-day trial on MarkUp.io and see the difference it makes in your design process!