Great Website Design Ideas: Inspiration & Advice for all sites

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Whenever someone is important enough for you to draw them into your world, you want to make a lasting first impression. According to Entrepreneur magazine, your visitors will get their first impression of your website design ideas within less than two-tenths of a second.

Website design ideas
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Making your website design ideas work for you

The best website ideas for web design will attract and appeal to your customers, clients, and visitors by meeting a specific need. The scope of the overall design will reflect your business, promote your brand, be easy to navigate, have readable content, and leave a lasting impression with all who see it.

How will you know if you succeeded? Ask yourself if your website is changing often enough to keep visitors coming back to see something new. Do the colors and overall design scheme evoke an emotion in you? Look at this site by the Child Welfare League of America. Did it make you smile?

If you’re not sure your audience will respond, take a screenshot of your home page. Send it to a dozen people and ask them to look at it only for a few seconds and them come up with one word to describe it. If the word is boring or lackluster, you’ll need to get back to the dashboard to work on some new web design ideas.

Want to start your own site? Check out my step-by-step tutorial on how to start a blog.

Color in design can make or break your website

The first thing that you want to think about is what mood you want to set. Oranges, browns, and deep reds give your guests a warm, cozy feel like the Pioneer Woman site. Blues, greens, and teals speak to all things fresh and natural like this one by Thulani DeMarsay. Stark black and white designs tell your customers you mean business, soft grays leave a little to the imagination.

Once you pick the main color, you’ll need to add colors to designate your title, pages, page separators, and other navigational links and other content. It helps to go back to your school days when you learned about the color wheel.

A monochromatic scheme means that you will use various light and dark shades of the same color for your website’s main design ideas. For example, you might use white text in a navy box over a light blue background.

An analogous color scheme means using three or more colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. How do you feel about red, yellow, and orange? Or how about purple, blue, and red?

Complementary color schemes take colors from opposite ends of the color wheel. Complementary colors are:

  • Red and green
  • Yellow and purple
  • Blue and orange

Colors have many shades and levels of saturation, so even if you are only working with one or two colors, the possibilities of color combinations are endless.

Branding without bumbling or blundering in your web design ideas

If your visitors recognize your brand at first glance, you know that you’ve done a good job with brand recognition. Note how Mercedes Benz and Tiffany & Co. brand luxury with their words, logos, and images. As yourself these questions:

  • Does the title of your site spell out what you do?
  • Will visitors instantly know what your site is about?
  • Is the tone and style of your website in keeping with your industry?

If your answers to those questions are a bit shaky, try looking at similar web page design ideas to help you get back on track. In most industries, competitors try to set their brands apart, but they still bounce ideas off each other.

Your website is lost without great navigational design

There’s nothing more frustrating than finally finding the website you need and then not being able to find the one piece of information on the site that you really need.

Are your page tabs easily readable? Will your visitors know what your headings mean? Can your visitors pull your site up on their laptop, tablet, and cell phone? More importantly, have you checked how your site looks on each of those devices?

Most websites have a search option to make finding things on a site easier, but the best website design ideas use a smart search so that visitors only have to type a few letters and the search pulls up the most recent or most common search terms.

Your visitors will be checking out your site for information or products that they want. That gives you the opportunity to capture their attention with a call to action. If your goal is to capture their business by getting them to sign up for a newsletter, receive a free product, or register for a webinar, place your call to action button in a prominent place.

Immerse visitor senses in your website design

If you thought that your website guests only use their sense of sight, you’d be wrong. Some of the great website design ideas involve all five of your senses—sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

If you’re a doubter, take a look at the site that 4 Rivers Smokehouse designed. The site is so well designed that you can almost feel the steam from the brisket, hear the crunch of the char, smell the sear of the beef, and taste the tangy barbecue sauce. I’ll bet you want to eat there now!

Incorporate killer content into your design

Gear your content towards your target customers. Trade places with your visitors, and force yourself to think the way that they think.

If you are seeking visitors that have strong knowledge in your industry, the technical terms that you use in your content should reflect that. If you are looking for newbies in the industry, you’ll need to be careful not to talk over their heads. You could also have a page that lists definitions of common terms or offers a webinar to help newbies get up to speed.

Dropbox developed one site for consumers and one for businesses. Note that they have starkly different moods and design concepts.

When designing content, remember the reason that visitors are coming to your site. If they need a solution to a problem, make sure they can find it quickly.

In design, a picture is worth a thousand words… sometimes

Pictures, images, and videos can be wonderful tools, but only when they make sense. Use them thoughtfully, especially if you want your focal point to be a specific content area or a call to action.

Leaving a legacy of a lasting impression

Just like when meeting someone for the first time, making a good first impression with your website makes the difference between a relationship that remains an acquaintance or one that moves to something more substantial. You’ll succeed when you set the mood, offset it with the perfect website design and colors, and quickly direct your visitors exactly where you want them to go.

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