Somebody needs something and enters a word in the Google search box. Shazam! Your website pops up. They click on the link. But do they stay? Your website provides the first impression of your company for a lot of clients.
The Cecily Group is an entrepreneurial data and values-driven Family Office. We have an open architecture by design and provide access to all our tools on our website. For example one of our core concepts, The Family Abundance Concept, is available to everyone. When creating content for our site, we wanted to inform our readers about the company’s core values and introduce ourselves as a team—without offering an overwhelming amount of information. However, before we can get to any of that, we need our readers to make one initial decision: to stay on the page in the first place. A crucial element underlying that decision lies within the website design.

Why Is Web Design Important?

According to web credibility research from Stanford, 75% of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on its website’s design. It’s the design that will make the initial difference between “should I stay, or should I go?” This means that website design is essential to your business. And research shows that subsequent impressions, no matter how contradictory, can never make up for the first impression. Let’s take a closer look at what will impress people on their first visit

DO: Use “positive priming” to boost user satisfaction. Positive priming is using visual cues and active, suspenseful content to make a visitor to your website more likely to respond positively to further cues from your website. Examples of positive priming include using colors and images associated with your product, and encouraging visitors to your website to respond to questions such as “Are you interested in this product?” Such questions increase the customers’ sense of commitment to your product and your brand.

Don’t: Let your website design get outdated, or neglect to test your website. An outdated design with bad usability can give the impression that the site hasn’t been updated in ages – and the company itself is going out of business.

So… how do I get that good first impression? You must think of your website like an aquarium, with your visitor’s interest as the fish: there are a lot of factors you have to get right to keep an active interest in swimming. Let’s take a look at the basics.

The Ten Elements of Good Website Design

The Basics First: Secure the Base

The foundation of website design is the basic setup you use to support the website. if you want to operate safely and independently, you’ll need your domain and hosting. Also, how much time do you want to devote to developing your design? Some companies prefer CMS—Content Management Solution— options to assure that their websites will be scalable, (the most popular being WordPress) but be aware that design-wise it will come with some limitations.

Second: Stay on Top

Using up-to-date web development techniques is important to achieve optimal page speed and good search engine ranking. Some things to consider:

Design trends change quickly, but you don’t need to keep up with every trend if you don’t want to appear super trendy – some retro trends are also experiencing a comeback. There are also cool features that will instantly add a modern feel to your site:

Third: What Format Will Fit My Message and Purpose?

The format of your website determines the space your visitors have to move about in. Its construction will make them feel comfortable and at home, or unhappy and ready to leave, so give it some thought. Key elements of the website format include layout and navigation. Consider, for example, whether you’d rather scroll up and down, or right to left to read a longer text, or whether the text should appear in slides that are exchanged via an arrow click.

Fourth: Keep It All Together With the Company Brand

Your website design will need to follow your overall branding, including the color scheme, fonts, and styling of elements. If you want to learn about how to create a unique logo click here.

Consider using gamification to get people more involved– but sometimes all you need to stand out is good readability and usability, see this example here!

Fifth: Consider your visitor’s journey

Warning, Overload!

When adding features to your site, balance added value with usability. If your clients are only looking for information, don’t distract them unnecessarily. Animations may be cute and trendy, but do your customers care? Think of the journey the user makes through the website and how smoothly that journey goes. You need some trendy features to look up-to-date, but you don’t want features to get in the way of the user’s journey or their retrieval of the information they desire.

Convenience is King:

According to HubSpot’s research, 76% of consumers say the most important factor in a website’s design is “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want.” Here are some key ways to help your client find what he or she wants:

  • Keep key information on the main page
  • Utilize breadcrumb navigation
  • Include a search function
  • Use footer links (but be honest with these… see the latest on footer links here),
  • Implement menu items
  • Use big titles – don’t hide the good stuff!
  • Assure clarity of design: see below
  • Avoid complicated fonts

Map the Journey

Have a plan for your expected user behavior: a map for their movement through your website from arrival to the desired result (be it subscribing to your newsletter, filling out a contact form, or buying something).

Sixth: Keep Optimizing Your Site 

It will also improve the overall user experience and search engine ranking. Help site visitors to relate to you; share your story, and let your clients share theirs – collect testimonials and show your clients your team. It will help to build trust. Don’t forget to listen to your clients: if they are having trouble using your site, it’s time to make amends. Find out where they run into blocks by using either analytics or surveys (personal or online).

Seventh: Build Trust When It Comes to User Data

Be aware of the sensitivity of the subject when collecting user data. For companies working in business fields that require a high level of trust from clients, it might be a better choice to protect their anonymity and preserve their trust than to collect general information, for example in the form of cookies.

Eighth: Create Content With Lasting Value

When it comes to search engine rankings and encouraging users to return to your site, your best shot is to create valuable content. Articles or videos on the subjects of general interest in your field, (even quizzes, or browser-based games) will help users decide to stay on your site longer, increase the click-through rate and decrease the bounce rate. All these will improve ranking. They will also encourage others to create backlinks from reputable sources which will further improve your ranking. And last but not least, they will make your user more likely to return for more.

Good content is specific: Content that adds value to your readers solves problems and gives solutions to customers’ pain points is what you should be focused on – write for humans first and search engines will love you for it. You will also avoid fighting in the highly competitive field of generic content and spending money on over-used keywords.

Ninth: When Push Comes to Shove, the Visitor Will Leave

While your website serves the obvious purpose to drive sales, maybe it’s better not to be pushy about it. Seeing your offer as something mutually beneficial for you and your client will help you to leave a better impression. It’s also something to consider when thinking about your client’s journey through your site: guiding them through the pages to the content they are looking for is not the same as pushing them down the pipeline with CTA buttons and pop-up notifications. It also depends on your target audience; some groups are more sensitive to those techniques than others. Maybe your intentions are good and you are just trying to communicate your selling points – but you still come across as too forceful. However, it’s also possible that you fail to communicate those points in the fear of being too forceful. As a general rule, clear and transparent communication will help your client trust you more.

Tenth: Trust Your Instincts and the Instincts of Your Team

A good website will use elements that activate the senses. Look around! Shop the web for websites that entice you to linger, and take note of their strategies. Consider also to whom you are speaking: your visitors will not all respond to web searches in the way that you do. That’s why it’s so critical to follow not only your own “nose”, but the instincts of everyone on the team: at The Cecily Group, the entire team is involved in reviewing our branding and marketing designs, including our website—so we can hear a multitude of viewpoints and make smart decisions based on those common factors almost everyone can agree on, which are more likely to appeal to a larger audience.

Our Case Study

When creating The Cecily Group website, we decided to start with the key content and keep adding new features. We aimed for a base that is solid, but also flexible, extendable, and is also suitable for publishing blog articles. For that reason we choose WordPress.

  • When thinking of the clients’ journey, clients arrive at the Cecily Group’s website to learn about how solid their financial strategy is and how we could help them to further develop it. For that reason, we have created paths that guide people through their thinking process.
  • Clients can instantly access that information on the landing page
  • When creating content for our site, it was also our objective to inform them about the company’s core values and introduce ourselves as a team without offering an overwhelming amount of information.

We wish you the best of success with your website!