Top 5 Most Important Elements of Web Design

May 5, 2020
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When it comes to website design, you not only want it to look good, you want it to be user-friendly and fully functional. The most important thing to keep in mind is that many times, your website is the first interaction prospective customers or clients are having with your business. And, as with anything else, first impressions are important.

Remember, Your website is one of the first places that people can get a look into who you are and what your company is all about. This being said, you want to ensure that everything on your site is to the nines. From the layout to the graphics, the copy and the naivation, everything should appear in perfect order.

So, how do you ensure that your website design is top notch? While there are a lot of factors that go into web design, these are the 5 most important elements you should consider.

To better illustrate these points and how you can correctly execute them in your design, we’ve included a few examples from two sites who have done a good job of implementing these elements—GoodLife Home Loans and Intuit ProConnect ProSeries.

Let’s get started:

#1.  Navigation

Making it easy for your website visitors to get around on your website is important, you want to provide them with exactly what they need in a way that’s easy for them to find. In web design, this is known as the navigation. Typically, the navigation is found at the top of the site.

If you have a lot of different products or services, you can reflect that in the navigation with dropdown functionality—you don’t want a huge list cluttering the top of your site and causing confusion. If they hover over the main category in the navigation, the user will see a dropdown list of all the options within that category.

In addition to categories, you also want to make the homepage, account information (or shopping cart if you’re running an eCommerce site), and any other necessities in the navigation. By keeping the full range of options tucked away, you keep your navigation looking sleek, but still make the information easy to find.

In the example below, you’ll see the difference between a navigation in it’s menu and expanded form.

Navigation menu (not expanded):

Expanded with the dropdown list:

Image Credit: GoodLife Home Loans

When you’re creating your navigation menu, here are a few rules to follow for optimal design:

  • Only include 5-10 items on the top menu
  • Include tools like a search function
  • Keep the main navigation the same across the site
  • Use a dropdown to include additional navigation components like subcategories

#2.   Aesthetics

When it comes to designing your website, it can be difficult to pick and choose what you want to feature. However, keeping your design aesthetically pleasing and easy to follow is essential. When it comes to the visuals of your website, here are some of the most important rules to keep in mind:

  • Apply consistent spacing
  • Use plentiful whitespace
  • Only include high-quality images (avoid low-resolution images)
  • Use a color scheme that matches your branding
  • Make sure the color you choose for text is easy to read against the background
  • Ensure that everything is easy to read when you choose your typography

Image Credit: GoodLife Home Loans

As you can see in the above example, they have made sure that spacing is consistent throughout the different sections, that there is ample white space, and the text is easy to read.

#3.   CTAs

A CTA or call to action is an element that is designed to move the user to action. Since conversion is one of the main goals of any business’s website, CTAs should be plentiful (but not overdone). That’s because CTAs are essential on any website to engage your consumers and encourage them to interact with your business. At the same time, you don’t want your users to feel inundated with buttons and commands.

When you’re adding CTAs to your site, consider what step in the purchase funnel users will be at when they come across the information they’re looking at. This will help you tailor the messaging to have the most impact. For example, if they’re reviewing the items in their cart, you’d want a button that says something like “Check Out Now”, versus if they’re reading your “About Us” page where you’d want something that encourages them to get more information about your product or services.

Take the examples below, which illustrate the difference between CTA styles you’ll want to use:

Image Credit: Intuit ProSeries

Well-designed CTAs should be:

  • Thoughtful (make sure they resonate with the user)
  • Motivational (they are actionable and convey that to the user)
  • Natural (they fit the intent of the content they’re associated with)
  • Noticeable (your CTAs should stand out from the surrounding text)

4.   Branding

As any digital marketing expert will tell you, keeping your branding consistent is critical to establishing recognition and trust with your customers, and your website is no different—regardless of the scenario.

When users specifically searched for your brand because they’ve heard of it before, they want to come to your website and immediately know that they’re in the right place. If there’s any doubt about it, they might be inclined to return to their search and end up on your competitor’s site.

On the other hand, if they’ve stumbled across your website when they were looking for a product, they might not know your brand but you want to remember. Having a website that reflects your branding from your logo to brand colors is essential to creating that relationship in the consumer’s mind.

Here’s a great example of well-executed branding (you’ll see their logo is prominent, their brand colors are used throughout the design, and the imagery exemplifies their services):

Image Credit: Intuit ProSeries

5.   Content

Just as important as how your website looks and how it works is what’s on it. It might not seem like design and content are necessarily related, but it’s important that design plays off the content to ensure that it resonates with the reader. If you think of content as part of your web design, it will make the most impact.

As you can see in the example provided, the text and images are tied together to convey the point of each section, the body copy is broken up into small, quickly readable chunks, and the text stands out from the background so it’s easy to see.

Image Credit: GoodLife Home Loans

When it comes to integrating content into your web design, these are things you need to prioritize:

  • Using imagery that complements the content
  • Making sure the text fits in the allotted space and doesn’t look over-stuffed or awkward
  • If the reader is scrolling, does the biggest text highlight key takeaways?
  • The amount of text on the page is not overwhelming (which could scare off your reader)
  • If there is a lot of text, you need to break it up into easy-to-digest chunks
  • The copy and visual elements are balanced appropriately

Other Important Web Design Factors You Should Consider:

  • Make sure your design is mobile-friendly: Your SEO specialist will emphasize how important this is for ranking well on Google—plus you want your customers to be able to easily use your site on their phone.
  • Your web design should be intuitive: While you can’t actually read your customers’ minds, your web design should do it’s best to anticipate their needs and provide a layout that serves the user.
  • Optimize each page for the key products or services you’re trying to rank for: You also want to make sure that content is optimized to help you get the most traffic to your website.

Whether you’re using creating your website with a template-based system like WordPress or hiring a web designer to handle it for you, it’s important to keep this checklist in mind to ensure that your website is the best that it can be.

About the author

This article was created by Alexis Maness, a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications and she is a contributing editor for As a professional content writer, she has over five years of experience and is a contributing writer for several companies. Alexis specializes in topics related to business, marketing, finance, and hospitality and tourism.