Last updated: August 2019
Website design matters.
When a visitor clicks on your website the first few seconds are critical. Is it appealing? Is it uncluttered? Can they easily find what they’re looking for?
A successful website design needs to provide a strong user experience, valuable content, and direction.
Let's explore some of the most important elements of a well-designed website, some key website design trends, and three highly successful website design examples.
The Critical Elements of a Well-Designed Website
We often know instinctively what makes a good website design, even if we can't quite articulate it. The major principles of web design are actually quite simple. They are based on the following attributes:
- Straightforward. A website must be clear and concise. All of the most important information must be "above the fold", visible to the user immediately upon loading. With a variety of devices now being used, this has become even more difficult to achieve. Which also brings us to...
- Responsive. A website has to be able to respond to the device that it is being viewed on, both in terms of appearance and usage. A single website should be able to load in different layout formats depending on the device that is loading it, but the content should be taken from a single consolidated source.
- Branded. A website should clearly display both the brand and the identity of an organization. The tone of voice and the company branding should be consistent throughout. Further branding can be achieved through social media integration.
Now that we've covered some of the critical elements of a well-designed website, let's look at some examples of good website designs and what makes them successful.
- Customer-centric design. A clear strategy for Holiday Coast was to follow a personalised website marketing strategy. Holiday Coast sought to understand the motivations and goals of their audience during their different life stages, and how Holiday Coast can assist them during these times (providing them with finance to achieve these goals). Using these key insights, they designed their website to tie into key life stages of their members, including starting a family, retiring, investing, renovating and starting a business. This ensures the website (and the brand) is as relevant and relateble to the target audience as possible, and the visitor is able to quickly find and view information related to their needs.
- Seamless self-service. A website is not only a storefront that is open 24/7, it is an effective customer experience management platform. Holiday Coast designed their website to be an always open digital bank. Everything that a member needs to manage, save, grow and protect is available online. Key information for prospects is also available. The dual top and side maps give access to the company's most utilised information and tools, ensuring that prospects can easily find what they’re searching for.
- Contextual site navigation. As Gerry McGovern, Founder and CEO of Customer Carewords explains, “The primary purpose of web navigation is to help people to move forward. It is not to tell them where they have been, or where they could have gone.” Holiday Coast have designed their site to make it easy for visitors to get the information they need. For example, they provide a quick links bar on the right hand side of their website to key sections including internet banking, loan calculators and contact us. There are also links on each page to relevant content visitors often seek such as a calculator on their personal savings page.
- User experience. Austrade deals directly with both domestic and international individuals. To adapt to this, the website has separate areas for Australian exporters and International importers. This allows the organization to tailor its information to its user base. Through Elcom, Austrade was able to achieve this in a single, consolidated content management system, which makes it easier to streamline content creation.
- Brand identity. Austrade's website contains a wealth of important and timely information, including news, events, and guides. Through this information, Austrade is able to establish itself as an authority within its industry -- and achieve better search engine optimization. The news and events posted by Austrade cover a wide variety of special interest information, ranging from success stories to investor updates.
- Social integration. Social media accounts are linked directly in the header of the Austrade page. Another prompt is available further down the page, and many individual articles are linked to the author's social media pages. Altogether, this is intended to encourage social media sharing and social media engagement.
- Appearance. The Hyundai website puts the product at the forefront -- as it should. Every part of the Hyundai website is devoted to showcasing the vehicles themselves, thereby showing customers the content that they are most interested in right at the outset.
- Scalability. Hyundai needs to manage a total of 144 dealership websites, which all need to be customisable while still sharing the same content with the main website. This provides a very clean user experience throughout the nation. They were able to achieve this through using a multi-site website CMS.
- Administration. Some of what makes a website design good is not visible to the users. Instead, it lies in the back-end: the administrative functionality. Elcom was able to merge Hyundai's intranet with its portal, providing publishing abilities and administrative management. Altogether, this makes it easier for the website's dealership content and owner content to be better managed.
Once you've seen a successful website design example in practice, it becomes easy to identify other good websites. But it's still not easy to develop them.
If you're interested in creating an attractive, well-designed, and effective website, we recommend you read the website redesign best practices guide.
It will guide you through, step-by-step, on how to launch a successful website. You'll also receive a project plan checklist to help you get started with your own project.