6 key elements of strategic web design

The current status quo of all things internet has ushered in an overload of information and endless options, where website design can be used effectively to help a brand pierce through the clutter by developing a strong brand identity and web presence. Strategic web design facilitates in creating a relatable experience for your visitor, setting your site apart, by using the following key design elements:

 

1. Strength in unity

By developing a distinct brand look and feel throughout your online presence, both on your website and right through your social media platforms, design elements are used to reinforce your brand’s uniqueness and ensure that it is positioned as a recognisable entity. This ensures that there is a common brand message for all communications, setting up consistent target market association and expectations in relation to your brand and its offerings. Think of Coca-Cola; instantly recognisable, both visually and in terms of its brand message of enjoyment. Using similar design principles, you can create a similar experience of familiarity for your brand.

 

2. Time for optimisation

Improving your website’s search results ranking increases your website’s value and in turn your brand’s visibility on the internet. Although content plays a role in establishing good page rankings, images can also give a helping hand. When it comes to images, the best SEO practise is to save your images with a file name describing the image while using targeted keywords for the page. For example, if your image shows the sun setting over the St Michaels’ Beach, then use the words ‘st-michaels-beach-sunset.jpg. The Google bot can then read what your image is about so that it enhances the page content, further benefitting your SEO while also enabling your page to be well ranked on an image search engine results page.

If you have several images on a page, it is advisable only to use the keyword in a maximum of 75% of the file names of the images on a page. This avoids keyword stuffing – a definite no-no which can be regarded as SEO spam and violates the search engine’s Terms of Service. Ensure best practise for file saving as follows:

  • Use a few words describing the name of your image
  • Include a hyphen (-) between each word of your file name (e.g. st-michaels-beach-sunset)
  • Exclude stop words (such as a, to, the)

3. Branded

Your company logo plays a significant role in web design, serving as a representative of the brand. As the visual ambassador of your brand’s name it is an important part of web design, appearing on all pages during the visitor’s navigational experience.

Logos inspire strong associations with a company and web design plays a role in positioning the logo so as to create a positive experience by using the power of the logo to present a brand which your target market knows and trusts. A strong, recognisable logo is an important part of your branding strategy as shown with the logos of well- known brands such as Virgin, Coca-Cola and Toyota. Logos of these brands are well-established in our minds and set up expectations in which the visual designs communicate the brand message, as follows:

  • Toyota – reliability
  • Coca Cola – fun
  • Virgin – alternative, funky, innovative

Design can incorporate these elements, elevating your logos to create the brand associations which motivates brand loyalty and buy in from your target market.

 

4. A matter of Style

A website’s style is composed of several visual elements: colours, fonts, layout, images and so on, creating an overall ambience which defines the visitor’s experience of the site and in turn, the brand. Just as our own personal style is defined by the clothes we wear, a website’s style creates an impression which impacts on the visitor’s perception and experience of a brand. Style design choices relating to colour and font symbolically represent the brand, creating a visual context for your audience’s experience of your brand. Although visual elements may appeal differently to various audiences, web designers can find a middle ground by using a visual mix that will resonate with multiple audience groups.

 

5. The secret world of colours and fonts

Colours and fonts can be used effectively to complement your brand and reflect you brand’s personality. For example earth tones combined with a serene green or brighter colours with a clean, simple font can be used effectively to create the appropriate visual effect for a gardening website. In this context, design elements enable the visitor to easily relate to the content by communicating a relaxed, yet organised feel which in turn underpins the brand’s authority as an industry specialist.

 

6. The White space Fallacy

Although there is often a tendency to fill every inch of a web page with information or images, the introduction of white space helps to give the page a cleaner and more sophisticated appearance. This also aids legibility and comprehension so that your brand message can be clearly communicated to your visitor. Images are also highlighted. White space compartmentalises different ideas, serving as a boundary which allows different design elements and content to co-exist both as separate entities in their own right, while contributing to creating a context for the brand experience as a whole.

In this way, web design can be used to bring together different visual components with the aim of supporting and achieving a brand’s objectives. Each of these elements contributes to an overall visual effect and can be used as key components of strategic web design, where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, presenting a space when the visitor can enjoy your site and gain greater insight into your brand.

 

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