Your Blog is Ugly
Seven seconds is the time it takes for people to form a first impression. Just seven seconds is the difference between, “Hey, I want to get to know you,” and “I want nothing to do with you.” Heck, it’s the reason people generally don’t show up to first dates or job interviews in stained sweatpants.
The same goes for your content. With so many options for entertainment on the internet, no one wants to waste their time on something that looks sloppy. Bad web design tells your potential audience that you don’t care, and they’ll assume that attitude also applies to the substance of your content itself.
On the other hand, owing to a psychological phenomenon known as the “halo effect,” an appealing appearance can make you seem smarter, funnier, and more charming than you actually are. (I know, life isn’t fair.)
That’s why web design is a crucial consideration when you’re thinking of starting a content marketing strategy. While an unprofessional design can make good content look bad, a stylish design can make good content even better.
The 6 Tenets of Stylish Web Design
Clutter is annoying and distracting. Your eyes don’t know where to look when there is too much text or imagery on a screen, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In fact, a recent study by EyeQuant used artificial intelligence to grade a collection of websites based on clarity and compared these scores to the site’s bounce rate. Results showed that in comparing clean versus cluttered websites, visitors were more likely to leave a cluttered website without clicking anything. If that wasn’t bad enough, it can also slow load times, especially for mobile users.
KISS=Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Let’s take a look at one example of the power of minimalism from Woven Magazine, a website that celebrates design in all forms. Notice that text is minimal, and the site is clearly divided into sections. Also note what’s missing: No pop-ups or ads spring forth to greet you when you navigate this network. In all, it creates a serene reading experience that’s reflective of the it’s content.
And, for laughs, if you need an example of what NOT to do, check out this infamously cluttered website for Ling’s Cars.
2. Neutral Color Scheme
Neutral colors provide an appropriate backdrop for a variety of content types. With neutral colors like grey, beige, and navy, you don’t need to worry about images or videos clashing with the overall color scheme, and you can use small strategic pops of color to draw attention where desired.
3. Clear and Consistent Typography
It is important that your chosen typeface be consistent and easy to read. Sans serif fonts (those that appear modern and omit decorative finishes), such as Ariel and Verdana, in the 16pt font size are generally the easiest to read online. Although it can be effective to vary typeface and font size for elements such as headings, subtitles, or sidebars, it is essential to maintain a consistent scheme throughout the design. Additionally, strategic use of boldface, italics, and underline can help to highlight key points that you want your audience to remember.
4. Short Paragraphs
A long wall of text is daunting and makes reading your site feel like homework rather than a relaxing and engaging experience. Uninterrupted text can also create difficulty for readers trying to parse information and extract key points from a piece of writing. Break up long paragraphs by looking for subtle changes in topic or direction. Bullet points and numbered lists (like this one!) also help to break concepts into more manageable segments.
5. Effective Use of Images
Photographs, infographics, and charts all add visual interest to your content and help the reader to better digest important information. If you don’t have access to high quality professional photos, consider using a stock image site (Pexels or Unsplash are both fantastic free resources) to find images that compliment your content and brand identity. But beware! Make sure to keep your design looking clean and balanced. Overuse of either images or text can make a website appear cluttered.
SWISS Airlines creates a sense of wonder through its use of beautiful pictures and videos that make you want to hop on a flight to far-off destinations.
For inspiration, I’d recommend taking some time to sit down and peruse a few stories from the Swedish airline, SWISS. Engaging content mixed with stunning visuals set this airline’s site apart from those of its competitors and helps to cultivate an overall vibe of adventure and fun.
Remember, a picture speaks a thousand words!
6. Easy Navigation
Finally, we can’t forget that web design is not only about appearance; it’s also about function or the way the visitor can interact with the site. Navigation, especially, is crucial to effective content marketing. You want your customer to be able to easily jump to related pages when they’re done reading your content. For example, after reading an article about the top interior design trends of the season, users should be able to easily locate related products or content within a website. That’s how you make your content profitable. Known as the “three-click rule,” these users should be able to find any information they seek within three clicks.
It may be tempting to ignore this advice. I understand. You’re looking to stand out! You don’t want to do what everyone else is doing! But take it from someone who takes pride in being different, you want to stand out for the right reasons. There are some rules that it’s best not to break. In fact, these basic design guidelines make it possible for your ideas to shine.
When your content’s good, you don’t need to get attention through flashy design. Save your creative energy for making interesting and engaging content that leaves your audience wanting more.
Or, let Michaels Wilder do it for you. From sleek web design to content that converts, we’re the experts in digital marketing. Give us a call, and find out what we can do for you.