Web Design — Does it Matter What it Looks Like?
Most people associate web design with aesthetics. But while the most memorable sites likely have engaging designs, what businesses really need is a size that looks nice and performs even better. In this article, we’ll explain what happens when the aesthetics of your site compromise its performance.
The need for an aesthetic design
Let’s start off by saying that your site’s appearance is extremely important. Everything from your color scheme to your typeface should match your brand and your design should make an impression on users.
Still, it’s important to keep in mind that your site aesthetics should serve a purpose. A recent Huffington Post article, for example, suggests that they should help users navigate your site and understand your brand:
“Imbuing your site with a sound structure means first understanding specifically why users visit your site, what search terms they use to get there, and how they interact with your site once they’re in. It also means that important pages that are dense with value-added information for users are easy to locate and logically placed in the customer’s journey.”
We recommend focusing on the appearance of your site in a way that optimizes your user experience. If an element takes away from that experience but makes your site look a bit nicer, then it’s probably not worth it.
Performance vs. aesthetics
It doesn’t take long before businesses have to start choosing between performance and site aesthetics. Any web designer, however, will tell you to prioritize the former.
A great example is visual content. Lots of businesses fill up their sites with images, videos, and GIFs because they improve their aesthetics. But according to this Adobe study, these elements usually detract from the user experience and drive visitors away, especially if the file sizes are big:
- Images won’t load — 46% switch devices; 39% stop engaging
- It takes too long to load — 44% switch devices; 39% stop engaging
- Content is too long — 30% switch devices; 38% stop engaging
- The content is unattractive in its layout or imagery — 35% switch devices; 38% stop engaging
The last point proves that this is a give and take. If your site’s performance is fantastic but its appearance is horrible, then that also might drive users away. You need to focus on both factors for a good site, and if you absolutely have to pick between the two, then it’s usually better to side with performance.
Blending the two together
As long as you understand this relationship from the beginning, you can build a site that optimizes the user experience by having great performance and aesthetics. You can also redesign your site in a way that doesn’t force you to choose between the two often.
One example is utilizing white space on your site. This CIO article explains how simple blank space can improve your site’s appearance and performance:
“By using white space, your content delivers a greater impact to the reader. We’ve all seen sites that are chock full of text and graphics. They’re distracting, and you end up retaining very little, if any, information. That’s the opposite of your website’s purpose. [Instead] use discretion and include more white space.”
Your site needs an ample amount of white space to have clear navigation. It also adds breaks between your content so users don’t get overwhelmed. And the best part is that because it doesn’t really contain anything, adding white space improves your site’s performance.
This is one way you can optimize your user experience without sacrificing performance or appearance. The more experience you have with web design, the more tricks like this you’ll discover over time. To talk more about web design, or anything else, contact us today.
Originally published at Bash Foo.