Whether you’re new to design or a veteran who wants to keep pace with the rapidly changing trends in website design, we’ve got you covered.
We’re discussing the ten best website design practices for 2023 so you can update your design process according to the latest requirements from users and search engines alike.
Let’s cut right to the chase!
Table of contents
- Tip #1: Ensure branding consistency site-wide
- Tip #2: Place important information at the top
- Tip #3: Use visual hierarchy to highlight key details
- Tip #4: Create a smooth user experience
- Tip #5: Write engaging copy that converts
- Tip #6: Add a clear call to action (CTA)
- Tip #7: Optimize text for search engines
- Tip #8: Design with mobile devices in mind
- Tip #9: Add social media buttons
- Tip #10: Leverage A/B testing & feedback
Tip #1: Ensure brand consistency site-wide
An old rule in marketing says people need to hear or see something at least seven times to remember it.
So, make every website visit count!
To make your brand’s visual identity memorable, ensure that every line of text or graphic element your site visitors interact with is aligned with your brand guidelines regarding color, typography, and imagery.
This way, you come closer to the familiar brand status whenever people revisit your website. And when your brand becomes familiar to your audience, they start trusting your company enough to become loyal customers.
Trust in brands impacts 67% of consumers’ buying decisions.
The bottom line here is that consistent branding can bring you more customers in the long run. If you haven’t already applied brand consistency site-wide, it’s time to redesign.
It’s worth the effort!
While you’re at it, restructure your site’s information architecture. Let’s see why you should do that and how.
Tip #2: Place important information at the top of the page
The majority of your website visitors will not commit to reading every single thing on a webpage. Most internet users have different ways of reading content online, called patterns.
Of course, we’re not saying that line-by-line reading (AKA the commitment pattern) is impossible.
It’s just very rare.
People are busy, have short attention spans, and want to get the information they need as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Luckily, you can use simple tricks to ensure you’re offering your website visitors the experience they look for, whatever their reading patterns. For instance, you can:
- Place key information at the top of web pages.
- Format your copy to highlight important details (e.g., put keywords and phrases in bold type, bullet points, or subheadings).
- Avoid writing consecutive sentences with similar structures (e.g., sentences starting with the same word).
In short, proper web formatting helps your visitors get the most value out of your content.
On the flip side, pasting walls of text on a web page will chip away at your content’s efficiency. With no eye-catching elements to grab your users’ attention, they will probably scan your pages in an F-shaped pattern.
When the F-shaped reading pattern is triggered, your audience only goes over the first few lines of content (the long horizontal line of the F) plus the beginning of the second paragraph (and that’s the short one).
With the F-shaped pattern, users pay attention to copy on the left side of the page and tend to ignore anything on the right side, like in the image below.
Use heatmap tools to see if your users are missing important information while navigating your content. This software gives you a visual representation of how visitors interact with your site by clicking and scrolling. So, you can see what they’re paying attention to and what they’re skipping.
Examples of heatmap software include:
- Microsoft Clarity
- Crazy Egg
If you do find issues with users’ reading patterns, you can solve them with our third tip on the web design best practices list.
Tip #3: Use visual hierarchy to highlight key details
For a smooth and effective reading experience, create a visual hierarchy using text and image sizing and scaling. This approach directs visitors to focus on what matters.
Think of it this way: the more important the information, the bigger, brighter, and louder it should appear.
By highlighting important elements through color, contrast, scale, or size, you tell users what to focus on first.
For instance, if your heatmaps tell you that your audience ignores the elements on the right side of the page, you can increase their size and contrast to grab visitors’ attention.
The same logic applies to copy scanned in an F-shaped pattern: you can pull attention to essential words and phrases using bold formatting, different headings, bulleted and numbered lists, etc.
The crucial thing here is that you break text-heavy content into bite-sized pieces, ordered and formatted according to their importance.
Remember, though, that a user interface (UI) that’s too busy, with all its elements screaming at you, won’t do much for your readers. So, make visual hierarchy work for you by:
- Keeping it simple: Don’t over-stuff web pages with too many images, graphics, or text.
- Sticking to a color scheme: Strive for a balance between neutral tones and bold hues so your design isn’t visually overwhelming.
- Highlighting only what’s most important: Emphasize the most relevant information using contrasting colors, font size, or different headings.
- Embracing white space: Use negative space to guide users and drive their attention to particular information or elements.
Visual hierarchy is the first step in designing a frictionless user experience (UX). Let’s see what else you can do for a trouble-free UX.
Tip #4: Create a smooth user experience
Although visuals greatly influence how visitors interact with your site, UX isn’t just about making things pretty.
Things like functionality, ease of use, and accessibility should also be top priorities for web designers.
So, when working on user flows, you should ask yourself questions like:
- Does the homepage make the website’s purpose clear?
- Is the navigation bar easy to use?
- Are essential buttons and contact forms easy to find?
- Can a first-time user understand how your design works?
- Is the user experience engaging and enjoyable?
- Does the design provide the necessary guidance to support users in performing certain tasks (e.g., signing up for a free trial)?
- Is the website accessible to people with disabilities?
If you manage to answer “Yes” to all of these questions through user testing sessions that go well, your website will have a smooth UX and a user-friendly UI.
Pro Tip: Read our blog on how to create winning user flows. It will make your job easier!
Ultimately, a good UX should help the visitor achieve an objective — we’ve already established that.
But is good UX design sufficient to persuade a potential customer to click on a buy now button?
The short answer is no.
But add ‘first-rate copywriting’ to your shopping list of website design best practices, and you’ve got yourself a high conversion rate.
Tip #5: Write engaging copy that converts
When you hear ‘conversion copywriting,’ you probably think it’s about convincing readers to buy a product.
Although you are heading in the right direction, there’s more to conversion copywriting than meets the eye. It can be leveraged for each touchpoint on a buyer’s journey — from awareness to the buying decision.
Conversion copywriting uses action-oriented language to inform and encourage at the same time. So, you can use it on your homepage, about us page, blog, landing pages, and pricing page.
Here’s how to nail it:
- Use strong action verbs that tell the users what they’ll get from performing an action (e.g., optimize, streamline, boost, etc.).
- Skip long, irrelevant introductions and cut to the chase.
- Leverage active voice and avoid words that make you seem unsure (e.g., I think, maybe, possibly, etc.).
- Pepper your text with questions like Why? How? and What? This will entice readers to look for the answer in the text. Questions also make content more engaging.
- Keep the end goal in mind while writing. Is the objective to persuade readers to sign up for your newsletter? If that’s the case, the whole copy should build up to that CTA.
- Write short sentences and paragraphs with simple language to boost readability.
All your writing endeavors boil down to whether visitors click the call to action (CTA) button. That’s exactly what we’re talking about in the next section 😉.
Tip #6: Add a clear call to action (CTA)
If you want your website visitors to do something, you must tell them what to do!
Something as simple as adding a call to action that tells readers what’s expected of them when scrolling through a landing page can increase your conversion rate by 80%.
Not only can CTA buttons help you pump leads into your sales pipeline, but they can also give you a competitive edge.
An astounding 70% of small business websites in the business-to-business (B2B) sector have no call to action on their homepage. And 68% don’t display contact information on their website.
Their failure is your opportunity.
When visitors to those websites want to reach out but have no way of doing so, they’ll take their business to the competition instead. Which means you.
To take advantage of this opportunity, you must create relevant and efficient CTAs and use them strategically.
- Homepage CTA: Sign up for a free trial! or Let’s talk!
- Blog page CTA: Sign up for our newsletter/blog updates! or Don’t miss out on our blog updates!
- Pricing page CTA: Buy now! or Start your free trial!
As you can tell from the examples above, CTAs need to be relevant and summarize the intention behind the content on a page.
Remember, though, that even if you do everything right — from the header down to the CTA — there’s still a chance your website will not perform well.
If that’s the case, it’s time you revise your search engine optimization (SEO) practices.
Tip #7: Optimize text for search engines
SEO helps your website get noticed by search engines so that potential customers can find your site.
Without it, your target audience will never be able to find your site organically without you investing in pay-per-click ads.
To ensure your content gets visibility and displays in search results (AKA ranks), you need to account for the following elements:
- Title tags: Include H1 title tags containing your targeted keywords in the HTML of your web pages. These titles tell the search engines what your content is about.
- Meta descriptions: Meta tags offer search engines and users a quick walk-through of the ideas a specific web page covers.
- Heading tags: Headings help users and search engines understand what your copy is trying to convey.
- Keywords: Cover topics thoroughly but include relevant keywords in moderation.
- Images: Use high-quality compressed images to minimize page-loading time. Add relevant alternative text to images to increase your site’s accessibility.
- Links: Add URLs to internal pages and external websites to increase site authority.
Pro Tip: Head over to our guide on how to launch a website for more insights into SEO best practices.
Although SEO is the key to showing up in searches, write copy with your visitors in mind.
Today’s readers have less patience for clunkily written articles created for search engines. Instead, try to be as helpful as possible and remember you’re writing for a human audience. When you’re satisfied with the content, review it and ensure it’s optimized for search engines.
According to Google’s algorithm update from August 2022, your priority should always be user-centric content that provides useful information to your audience. SEO should come in second place!
In the context of encouraging creators to prioritize users’ needs, Google emphasizes the importance of responsive, mobile-friendly web design for crawling and indexing.
That makes sense, considering that over 92% of the world’s internet users access the internet via their mobile devices for more than 50% of the time they spend online.
That’s why responsive design is a must.
Now, what does a responsive website look like?
Tip #8: Design with mobile devices in mind
When a site is displayed correctly and adjusts the size of its design elements according to the screen size it’s viewed on, it’s considered mobile-friendly.
You can use Google’s mobile-friendly test to see if your site displays properly on smaller screens. This test offers insights into your site’s mobile-usability problems, which may include:
- The site’s mobile-friendly status: Tells you if your URL is reachable on mobile devices.
- Availability issues: Google can’t reach the page you’re testing.
- Unloaded resources: The web page doesn’t load images and other visual elements on smaller screen sizes.
- Font size: Your text might be too small for users to read.
- Clickable elements too close to each other: Things like search bars, dropdown menus, and buttons aren’t spaced properly, which makes website navigation difficult.
Go to Google’s Mobile Usability report to learn how to fix the most common pitfalls of responsive design.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to something more cheerful and easy to do 😁
Tip #9: Add social media buttons
Helping users share your content easily on social media will help you increase your website’s traffic and visibility without investing too much effort and time in digital marketing.
Your organic audience will simply click a button to spread the word about your brand with their network. This puts your content in front of a wider audience of potential customers.
Place social media buttons strategically (e.g., at the end of a blog article) to make this happen.
With all this new traffic, you may see your website’s bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who soon leave) increase. If you can’t explain why that’s happening, testing and feedback are your best friends. ✌️
Tip #10: Leverage A/B testing & feedback
When you’re experiencing issues with your website’s bounce rate and can’t figure out why, ask for a second opinion.
MarkUp.io makes website feedback easy for you.
Paste your site’s URL onto the platform and create a browsable copy of your website (that’s what we call a MarkUp).
To make the process of creating MarkUps even easier, MarkUp.io features a Chrome extension that allows you to transform any webpage into a MarkUp as easily as if you were bookmarking your favorite enchilada recipe.
Next, share your MarkUp with whoever you want via the share link or email invite.
Your feedback buddy doesn’t need to log in to review your content. They can access your MarkUp and immediately start the proofing process.
The platform allows users to pin comments to specific design elements, making website feedback contextual, clearer, and easier to implement.
Believe us, we know the pain of design feedback. That pain was what fuelled the development of MarkUp.io.
With the friction of feedback emails out of the way, you and your reviewers can focus on what truly matters: identifying and fixing design mishaps as efficiently as possible.
Once you pinpoint the trouble-making elements, you can start split testing or A/B testing to find the best way to fix the issue.
With A/B testing, you create two variations of a web page to be navigated by real users. You need to use specialized tools like Optimizely, VWO, AB Tasty, etc.
This software helps you conduct split testing while collecting relevant metrics that tell you which design performs best.
That’s all for today!
Are you excited to put these website design tips into practice?
If your answer is yes, keep reading. We’ve got something to help you out on your journey.
Over to you
No matter how closely you follow the best practices of web design, chances are your client will request edits.
When that happens, who you gonna call?
Well, that’s one answer. But we were really hoping you were going to say MarkUp.io. 😅
Our platform helps you streamline your review and approval process and avoid those annoying back-and-forths with reviewers.
Sign up today and claim your free 14-day trial with MarkUp.io!
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Q1. What best practices should I follow when designing a website?
The best practices you need to follow when designing a website include:
- Using fonts that are easy to read
- Leveraging visual hierarchy elements to make content scannable
- Adding relevant images to make text-heavy pages visually appealing
- Using compelling CTAs
- Optimizing your website for search engines
- Ensuring websites are mobile-friendly
- Ensuring brand consistency
Q2. What are the rules of web design?
The rules of web design include:
- Keep your color palette simple so your site doesn’t visually overwhelm users
- Use text formatting to pull users’ focus toward key information
- Leverage white space to guide visitors’ reading flow
- Ensure your site is easy to navigate and offers a smooth user experience (UX)
- Place CTAs strategically on each page
Q3. What elements make a good website layout?
A good website layout is comprised of:
- Search bar to improve usability
- Visual design elements
- Written content
- Interactions and animations
- Branding elements