Website Design Ideas and Inspiration
If you lack inspiration for your website design, stop pondering. If you want ideas for your website design, better start reading this.
It all begins with a plan. The plan in front of your eyes, you’ll get a clearer idea of what website you want to create. That website has to be pleasant to visit (beautiful design comes in appropriately) and it has to be effective: more than beautiful, a website needs to accomplish goals and drive results. This is where engagement comes to play.
Bits of inspiration for an engaging website design
1. One-page layouts might make people up to ten times more inclined to take quick decisions
One-page websites are in trend, but why? They aim at presenting only the necessary information that it takes to make a decision.
According to Smashingmagazine, people don’t read an entire page to make optimal decisions. They stop to the first occasion that arises to accomplish their goals. Hence, it’s become best practice to limit information to the minimal needed amount. And this minimum info also implies minimal number of choices.
Based on Hick’s Law, by increasing the number of choices, the decision time is also increased (an inevitable consequence of increasing the amount of information in a website). The good direction is to go the other way round.
2. Card Design for Boosting Visuals: A Picture’s Worth 60,000 Words
It’s good for blogs that keep up with the latest changes in web surfers behavior. It relies on the power of visuals. And it goes in line with usual practice of scanning web pages (not linear, but randomized).
Precisely, card design means the layout consists of a number of cards. Each card contains an image and a short description, as well as a link to details about the subject.
Examples of card design:
Images help connecting with users at an emotional level, and they have the power to transmit more information in a synthetical presentation. That’s why it’s been said that a picture is worth 60,000 words.
To enhance the power of a card layout, you can add micro-interactivity at card-level: zoom-in effects (that enlarge images when hovered over with the mouse), like or share buttons next to each card, etc.
3. Parallax Effect emphasizes content and raises engagement with about 20 percent
First, what’s parallax?
The parallax effect consists of background images that move slower than the foreground, when users scroll down a page in a website.
It helps to bring focus on what’s most important in a message to transmit to users.
An online experiment showed that parallax influences user behavior in two ways: the cue route (perceived coolness, perceived vividness) and the action route (natural mapping, perceived ease of use). It determines higher user engagement.
Example of parallax effect applied to a website:
Related to statistics, as we said in this section title, parallax scrolling can get up to 20 percent of the users more engaged with a page content, as research showed.
4. Content Separators can drive up to 112% increase in revenue
Separators are graphic elements that delimitate a webpage Header/Footer from the rest of the page content. They’re also used to clearly delimitate distinct content sections.
In some WordPress themes, these graphic separators can have different geometric shapes (waves, triangles, mountains, book, book negative, etc.). They can be horizontally or vertically aligned.
The role of content separators is to give information a hierarchy and ensure a readability flow. They establish rhythm on a page.
“Why should my content be hierarchically structured?” you might ask. It’s far easier for users to follow a clear and logical content structure, and spot clues that drive them to information that’s essential to them. This results in improved user experience.
Better user experience on a website can trigger up to 112% increase in revenue, according to a study cited by Neil Patel in this article.
Here’s an example of content dividers:
5. White space makes content easier to understand by 20%
White space is a key element in web design. If you don’t know what elements to put on a website, then sometimes you shouldn’t put them at all. White space might be the best item you should use in that part of your page.
Let’s take its effects one by one:
White space between different layouts and layout elements guides the eye on the content it surrounds. These are named Macro White Spaces, delimiting major elements in a web page design.
White space between lines of paragraphs, and space to the top/bottom/right/left margins of the text increase comprehension. It’s called Micro White Space and it can improve readability + understanding of the text with up to 20% (as Prototypr.io states).
Example of white space “in action”:
6. CTA’s (call to action) generate conversions, with about 90% users reading them (after headlines)
According to statistics related to calls-to-action, almost 90 percent of website visitors read headlines and CTA copy. Many of them don’t read anything else.
Hence, the utmost importance of CTAs. They have to show good copy, copy that converts. Going beyond colors psychology (which has to break from traditionalism) and button shapes (which should better observe conventional rules), they have to be convincing.
There are four dimensions of CTAs you should consider when designing the website: the design, the message, their placement and continuous testing. Please keep in mind message and placement. Strategical placement:
Prezi invites you to “See how it works” right from the Header:
7. Big-sized Hero images capture attention, raise interest and increase sales with up to 40%
Hero images are the first item people see on a page. Large images taking up to 80% of the whole screen can have a great impact on users. First of all, they instantly capture attention. Once users’ attention captured, you can easily focus them on the website content.
Tests for the Salomon site showed the force of a Hero image can increase sales with about 40%.
Here’s how their homepage looks like:
If we tie in the image with the AIDA model and its steps to purchase, we notice that: 3 of the 4 steps involved in a buying process are covered by simply watching the homepage Hero image of the Salomon ecommerce site:
- Awareness – it’s raised by the big-sized image.
- Interest – it’s stirred up by the image of people sharing the same hobby with visitors who landed on the page.
- Desire – the image serves as model for people wanting to be like the two runners.
8. Hamburger Menu (since you tweak and refine, it might increase sales with about 4%)
The hamburger menu (offscreen menu) is used for mobile display of the navigation options, behind an icon having this form:
This design element is used for the reason of saving up real estate, on smaller mobile screens.
Some people say hamburger menus are not so good for user experience. They seem to be rather counter-intuitive, as the navigation options are hidden behind this symbol, and navigation itself is submitted to an elaborate process. Moreover, it’s hard to put special features to the front, when viewing them depends on clicking and expanding the hamburger menu.
If you still opt for a hamburger menu, consider designing an optimal version of this component. This means that the hamburger menu icon (see above) should be accompanied by the word “menu”, or even completely replaced by the term “menu”. Such versions of the component led to increase in revenue (tests showed).
9. Typography sets the standards for legibility – a key condition for engagement (with figures)
Without being new, selecting typography styles for a website is essential and it determines text legibility. In its turn, legibility influences conversion, for better or worse.
Instead of giving examples of maximized conversions, we’ll stick to the basic conditions required for typography to improve users’ reading:
- The font should not be smaller than 16 pixels. Otherwise, the audience would abandon the site, leading to lost sales.
- The text line length should not surpass 50-75 characters. Otherwise, people will perceive the text as more difficult to read.
- The text section length should comprise 4 to 5 line heights. Otherwise, users will perceive paragraphs as difficult to go through.
- Sans serifs are recommended for body text, instead of serifs. However, you’re allowed to use decorative styles for headings.
In terms of typeface (aka font family), here’s a report on the most popular ones:
The effects of typography aim at making readers feel inspired, better motivated and more inclined to take action and go on reading (…to making a purchase).
Beyond standards, feel free to experiment and track the results. Only, you should be aware of best practices and anchor those experiments in good advice from already-made research.
10. Background Videos for experimental marketing lead to 10% or 20% improvement in engagement
Background videos can be ground-breaking. If used wisely. They’re good for delivering online experiments of:
- Using a product
- Visiting a place
- Participating at an event, etc.
To put it simple, they’re immersive. They give underlying force to the website pages.
According to websitebuilderexpert.com, purposefully using a video background can lead to 10% or 20% improvement in people’s engagement with a website.
You only need to clearly display content, so a video background doesn’t reduce content legibility. And it’s preferable the video should be unique.
Here’s an example of good use of a video background:
Bear in mind that you can insert a video as background for the pages Header, or else you might consider a more audacious approach: that of applying a video background for the entire page.
11. Sliders can make and they can also break engagement…
Sliders present images in a flow, like in a rotating carousel. They’re usually inserted into homepage headers, with the intention to draw attention towards the website and make this with high impact. They’re modern. And they’re simple to add to a website.
Example of slider in a website homepage:
However, sliders don’t seem to rank very well in the list of highly effective and engaging website design elements.
But isn’t it possible to make the most of sliders visual impact and turn their drawbacks into advantages, as well?
Here’s how you can optimize sliders for better engagement:
- The first slide in the slider should be the most impactful of all images
- Don’t use automatic rotation of slides; it’s recommended that you let users pass to the next slides manually, and only if they choose to do so
- Make sure the slider affects minimally the website load speed.
12. Animations add 10 points to the entertainment side (84% of people expect it from a website)
Animations make content easier to read. This is due to the entertainment side of such items. We like text animations because they’re fun. We like mouse-sensitive buttons because they attract and distract, at the same time.
So, including animations in your website can ensure more than half of visitors who land on your page stay on it for more content.
What’s so alluring about website animations:
- They provide visual feedback to users, so visitors feel instantly included in the communication loop.
- They provide information on how to use certain items in a page (e.g. buttons change color on hover).
It’s important to consider, when starting to build a website, whether you feel at ease with creating animations (with these purposes). If you have to build a website in WordPress, for instance, you should search for features related to animations.
E.g. Mesmerize theme or Easy Textilate plugin.
13. Gamification: entertainment + experimentation, leading up to 650% more engagement
Gamification is a modern and utterly valid way of boosting engagement with a website.
This technique uses the entertainment factor to drive users towards experimentation. Here are some game elements you can focus on:
- Getting experience points, levels, etc
- Object finding
- Quizzes and puzzles, etc.
Gamification makes users feel at ease with exploring the website and more inclined to perceive the message your company wants to transmit. Hence, more engagement, and more conversions.
Below is an example of Interland:
However, gamification supposes a higher level of web design and programming knowledge for implementation. Make sure a professional will build the website, to avoid unnecessary costs of doing this yourself.
We’ll let you estimate yourself what ROI to drive from including gamification into your own website, based on your own requirements and budgeting.
14. Virtual Experiences, when 66% of consumers want VR shopping
Virtual experiences drive guaranteed success, if VR is in line with one (or more) of the following aspects:
Virtual Reality is immersive. It maximizes engagement. And it really justifies the figures above.
The first 3 stats are especially interesting:
- As 81% of people who try VR would tell their friends about it, your website will be subject to a lovely word-of-mouth campaign (word-of-mouth is one of the most efficient marketing techniques)
- Given that 73% of Gen Z says they’re interested in VR, you can target a large niche with great potential for sales
- Since 66% of consumers want VR shopping, you can turn your website into a cutting-edge ecommerce machine.
15. Accordion for more real-estate and surprise effect, with up to 31% more engagement
What is an Accordion Menu, first? It is a graphical control element that gathers items in a vertically stacked list.
Each item can be expanded or collapsed to reveal the content associated with that item. There can be zero expanded items, one or more than one item expanded at a time, depending on the configuration.
This is an example of accordion component in a webpage:
Through its design, it positively impacts webpage space management. Users will click and expand items only if they’re interested in finding more. It’s practical. And it’s effective.
Effectiveness lies in that the mere process of expanding items raises curiosity. You’ll want to find out what’s behind a label. And of course, you’ll want the content to surprise you.
Curiosity and surprise are connections with users, emotional ones.
According to measurements, communication and marketing campaigns are more effective if they appeal more to the emotional “brain”:
16. Image Overlay Hover Effects for micro-interactions that boost engagement
This type of effects gives a trendy look to a website and creates micro-interactions. Micro-interactions, in turn, increase engagement of users with the website and make them stay more on your website pages.
Check some examples of simple image overlay hover effects:
17. Box Shadow Effects to increase familiarity with a website and thus, its sales
These are web design features to be used carefully to the advantage of the website.
A prominent element that might benefit from shadow effects is the CTA button. It’s of utmost importance to design them appropriately, as they directly control sales:
- A CTA button has to stick to traditional forms that signal this is a button
- A CTA button can have additional design decorations, but these should be secondary to usual forms of buttons.
Shadow effects fall in the category of additional decorations. They embellish, but don’t radically change the items.
Here are some examples of box shadows:
The role of shadow effects (if used coherently in a website) might be to increase familiarity with that website specifically. And familiarity will trigger conversions.
18. Vertical menus and direct access to all important items in a page
These menus display vertically in a web page, and they might occupy the entire height of that page. They’re effective because they might offer direct access to more elements in a website, than if it were displayed horizontally (and hid elements in drop-down menus).
They are not the norm in terms of menu design, so people might find them a little bit awkward. You need to balance the pretty unusual with ease of access: content discoverability makes people more inclined to read and get your message.
Example of vertical menu:
19. Mouse effects, interactivity and its impact on conversions
Mouse effects cover a wide range of elements, starting from simple mouseover and going further to oil painting, mouse orbit, etc.
They’re nice elements of interaction, good for users who get visual feedback from their on-page behavior, best for experimentation and engagement.
An interesting analysis of mouse effects would be to watch average time on page over a finite time.
20. Product gallery, a more consistent user experience, increased conversions
Product galleries are beneficial for ecommerce websites.
Example of product gallery:
You can consider one or more of the following:
- They present multiple images of a product, for better informing visitors of that product features
- They present images of products from the same category, so users can purchase a set of products instead of a single product (upselling technique)
- They can offer an online experience of users with the product, like in a physical store; they can better evaluate a product, viewing it from different angles and experimenting this evaluation process like in a physical store (e.g. fashion and clothes – a product gallery can imply showing a dress on a mannequin, etc.)
Needless to say, a more consistent user experience leads to quicker product selection and purchase.
21. Contrast ratio for improved legibility
This parameter concerns the contrast between background color and on-page items color.
E.g. White text should be placed on a darker background, while darker text should be set to contrast with a light-colored background.
Contrast can be adjusted in all color aspects: brightness, saturation and shade, where brightness provides the most visible contrast.
According to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, a minimum contrast ratio of 3:1 is required for text that’s larger than 18px.
Please see the example below for an illustration of good contrast:
To check contrast ratio and ensure optimal parameters are achieved, you can use this tool.
22. Click-to-add-to-cart/click-to-request-for-quote shortens the path to conversion
This feature is applicable to ecommerce websites.
It consists in limiting the number of clicks needed to make a purchase. It facilitates the decision-making process. It shortens the path to conversion.
The common conversion path: click on the homepage/products list page -> click on products category page -> click on product page -> add to cart.
The shortened path: click on the homepage -> click to add to cart. Or Add to cart a product -> click to add to cart accessories.
Here’s an example:
You can experiment with this feature, with A/B tests. Comparing the results, you might find that click-to-add-to-cart is the optimal solution for your ecommerce website.
23. Side scrolling image for amazing effects
We’ve already talked about big-sized images and their impact on user engagement. Side scrolling images are appropriate for website Headers, and they look like this:
They are suitable i.e. for photography websites. They create an immersive experience from the very start of users’ visit on the website. Hence, they ensure engagement and increase chances to turn visitors into leads.
24. Toggle sidebar for better page layout
Toggle sidebar refers to a control element that allows for hiding/showing the sidebar in a page, according to users’ browsing behavior.
One frequently used version of this is the hamburger menu displayed on mobile devices (mobile and tablet).
Toggle sidebar contributes to better arrangement of elements within a website page. And an optimal page structure helps people quickly find, and appreciate, the information they were looking for.
A Final Word
We hope you’ll find at least 2 or 3 of the elements in this article useful for your own website. You can dare to add uniqueness to web design by integrating them, however, try keeping them anchored in web design standards.
As a rule of thumb, try minimal web design with some points of interest well marked by enough white space. That’s the key to a neat and clean design. And that’s the secret to every successful website.