5 Tips for Better Website Design

Written by Sophie

With the landscape of social media algorithms growing ever more volatile, it’s become more important than ever to have a good home for your online presence. Having a website gives your business a solid, centralised base – a one stop shop for customers to find out all they need to know about who you are, and what services and products you offer. More importantly, a website gives you absolute control over your content and messaging to customers. With your own website, you don’t have to worry about a platform changing significantly in a way that could negatively impact your business model, something that is increasingly becoming a regular occurrence for many businesses with an online presence spread across various social media platforms.

In 2024, there are more ways to build and design a website than ever before. The good news is, you don’t have to be an amazing artist or designer to be able to build an amazing looking website. Regardless of the platform you choose and how technical your web build is, fundamental design principles can help take your website to the next level.

Whether you’re building from scratch or using a pre-made layout – Here are 5 tips that can help you improve your website design:

Think of the Customer Journey

A photo of multiple wooden signposts against a blue sky

Good web design isn’t just about the overall appearance of your website – it’s also about the structure, and how you navigate it.

In marketing, there is a strategy structure known as a ‘funnel’. The marketing ‘funnel’ shows the steps of interaction a customer is guided through to reach your desired goal – whether that’s a sale, or engagement with a particular post or platform. A common marketing funnel looks something like this:

A Diagram of a Marketing Funnel. On the Right, in shades of red progressing lighter downwards is the primary funnel - labelled top to bottom, Awareness, Consideration, Conversion and loyalty. On the left are the behaviours each level of the funnel achieve, displayed progressively lighter in green top to bottom - Attract, Inform, Convert and Engage.

Good web design operates on a similar structure. Most websites have a particular goal or purpose – whether that’s to signpost customers to other services, to sell via ecommerce, to function as a blog, or more. Regardless of the purpose of your website, It’s important to take visitors on a journey through the site to tell people who you are, the services you have to offer, and how people can get in touch with you. This can be achieved with the layout and design of your website!

All websites should have a solid Home Page – which acts as the landing page for all other areas of your website. Your homepage should have a clear ‘Hero’ section, with a clear description and introduction to who you are and what your business is. The rest of the page can then be dedicated to signposting other areas of your site – whether that’s a product page, your blog, or how to get in touch with you.

A good overall website hierarchy can look something like this:

A diagram of an example website hierarchy. It's shown in a tree flowchart - with home page at the top, four category pages lower down, then sub categories lower down from that - 3, 2 and 1.

In this example, the homepage is the primary landing page. Then all other pages link from the homepage to other category pages. These could be product hubs, a blog, a service landing page or a contact page. Under these category pages can sit other sub categories – like specific product pages, blog articles and more.

Following this top-down, hierarchical website structure not only takes your customer through an easy-to-follow journey through your site. It also follows good SEO design practice, which helps boost your website’s level in search engine rankings, making your website easier to find.

Keep Your Design Consistent Throughout

A selection of different Geocities Landing Pages

It’s really tempting when designing a new website to use multiple different styling options and different layouts on every page. It’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking that variety will add excitement to a web design, and make it more interesting for customers. Often, this can lead to the opposite outcome. A website full of conflicting fonts, colours and layouts can create a confusing user experience, which can reflect poorly not just on your website, but your business as well.

A macbook with Infinity Innovations Homepage on the screen

When choosing designs for your website – make sure you use the same fonts, colours and themes throughout. Your website is an extension of the other aspects of your business, so it’s important to make your web design consistent with any other branding you might have. Do the fonts and colours on your website match up with the ones you’re using on business cards, or other stationary you own?

Most modern web themes and layouts available online have a good selection of these pre-selected, so do research to find the ones that best suit your websites and business.


Think Accessibility

A screenshot of the CMO Paris Homepage

A Screenshot of the CMO Paris Homepage – https://www.cmoparis.com/la-marque/

In recent years, web designers have begun to experiment a lot more with websites. After years of very minimal, stripped back web designs – developers and designers are now playing with animations, scroll effects and transitions a lot more.

The end result of this has lead to a lot of very cutting edge, exciting web design. However, some of these website experiences can be difficult to navigate for users who might not explore the web with a traditional mouse-and-keyboard setup. Elements like Parallax scrolls, videos and complex animations can add hefty loading times for users who might not have the fastest technology or internet connection to access them.

As these trends become more widely in-demand, website templates and pre-built layouts are also now beginning to appear with similar complex layouts and animations. Even more ‘static’ web layouts can often sometimes be difficult to navigate for those who use assistive technology – with missing alt text, lack of tab navigation, and flattened text unreadable via screen readers.

When Designing a website for your business, it’s important to ensure that your website is accessible for anyone who might visit it. It’s better to have a more stripped-back website that is clear and easy to navigate than it is to have an exciting, heavily customised one that is a nightmare to look through. Avoid heavily-animated pre-built layouts where possible. Use animations and videos in sparing quantities, and make sure that none of your design choices are made in sacrifice of accessibility.


Design Heuristically

A screenshot of the sainsburys website homepage

A Screenshot of the Sainsbury’s Homepage – https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/

Every person browsing the internet can visit hundreds, sometimes thousands of different websites. Most businesses these days have some degree of online presence – be that Supermarkets, major high street retailers, to ecommerce giants with only online outlets such as Amazon or Temu.

Through browsing the web, we all subconsciously pick up habits based on the things we most commonly interact with. Over time, these habits become expectations. Within a few seconds, we can use quick assessment to make judgements about what kind of business a website is for, how that website should function, as well as what kind of services or information we can expect to find there. This is what is known as Heuristics – or, Heuristic Behaviour. Patterns of habits, behaviours, or expectations we form without thinking, based on repeated experiences.

We can use Heuristics to help design a website experience that communicates the type of business you are to a customer subconsciously. This can be helpful, as it can handle a lot of the legwork required to make customers to develop a sense of familiarity with your business and website, in a very small window of time.

If you are a tech business, for example – your customers may already have an experience of other similar tech companies or brands in your field. Researching companies like Apple or Dyson, and identifying the ways they layout and sell their products can be helpful in establishing design patterns that could work for your own website.

The goal isn’t to copy their branding or website verbatim – it’s to identify patterns, signifiers and layouts that you can use when designing your own website to help communicate to customers what kind of business you are, without them having to consciously think about it.


Think Responsively

Ffour different sized screens sitting on a shelf, each with the same web page on display. There's an Imac, a Macbook, a Tablet and a Mobile. The backdrop is grey, and either side of the screens are an office lamp to the left, and a potted succulent plant to the right in a silver pot.

These days, people access websites on a vast range of devices and screen sizes. Your website could potentially be viewed on a large 4K display, or a small mobile phone screen, and many different sizes in between.

When designing a website, it’s important to ensure that your layout throughout is responsive. This means that your website has no fixed asset sizes (like hard-coded pixel limits), and that the layout and contents on your webpages can be moved freely to different dimensions and sizes, depending on the screen view.

This can seem overwhelming when first encountered. It can be frustrating to design a beautiful layout for a desktop view, only for the same layout to break entirely when viewed on a mobile screen.

In web development, a common design approach is known as ‘Mobile first’ design. This means that all your web pages should be designed from the mobile screen first, then scaled upwards to work across tablet and desktop views after.

Luckily, most modern web design platforms and web templates are built with responsive views in mind. If you aren’t a web designer, it can be helpful to use a pre-built theme, or some of the in-built site builder features to make sure your website is kept responsive without needing to handle the layouts manually yourself.

When choosing layouts and themes, always research how responsive they are. Don’t just rely on your website looking good in one particular view. You can use your browser’s in-built inspection tools to view how your website looks across multiple screens, and make adjustments to your layouts as needed.

Web Design & Development with Brand Ambition

At Brand Ambition, we help businesses get the most out of their websites. If you’re looking for web design support – whether it’s to update a previous site, or start a new one from scratch, we can help you every step of the way. Get in touch with us for further information on all of our web design and development services.