Beautiful and Functional Website Design That Converts


What are the tenets of good website design? Popular designs on the web come and go, and like the avocado kitchen appliances so chic in the 70s, design ideas we loved a few years ago can make us cringe today. Remember splash pages? Instead of landing on the home page, you’d land on a full screen flash animation complete with sound, and press “enter” to access the site. Fortunately, it was a short-lived fad. It was cool one time. After that, not so much.

Dale Cudmore, writing for the Crazy Egg blog, points out that ugly websites can convert, and he makes a great case. But I’m going to point out that most of the ugly sites he profiles have been around for a long time. They lack modern design features because they haven’t been updated in 15 years or more. And who can argue with such clear examples of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

That said, if you’re building a website today, a beautiful design that is also functional is more likely to convert.

What makes a website beautiful?

While beauty is a subjective measure, psychology plays a part in what we are attracted to. Ten years ago, the trend was minimalist. Restive colors like blue and gray dominated, and websites had plenty of white space, perhaps to move away from the overcrowded sites popular in the past. Copyblogger and are good examples of minimalist design. Google takes minimalism to a whole other level with single purpose design. Yahoo has updated its design, but still leans toward overcrowded chaos.

Today, websites are designed with mobile adaptability in mind. Colors are brighter and more saturated, text is bigger, and the homepage scrolls into sections that used to be stored on top-level tabs for easier access. Real-time Analytics are a colorful example.

Color psychology

Color is a complicated subject. To pick the most effective colors for your site, you have to really know your core audience. Women define their favorite colors as blue, purple and green, and men like blue, green and black. Then there are secondary considerations. Red and yellow are thought to stimulate the appetite, while green makes us think of the outdoors and growing things.

To choose website colors that convert, consider who you’re marketing to, and what you’re trying to market. Use the brightest colors in your pallet for your CTA buttons.

What makes a website functional?

User experience design (UXD) is a hot topic. Usability is essential to conversion, and UX designers look to intuitive design that’s easy to navigate and clear calls-to-action (CTA).

The psychology behind UX design offers a few salient points about user behavior:

●Limited choices are more effective. Provide only what the user really wants or needs, and make links easy to find and obvious. Get them where you want them to go with the least possible resistance.

●Keep it short and simple. This applies to overall text, blocks of text and sentences. Most people crave information, but will lose interest if they can’t skim and find it.

●Users will make mistakes, so make sure mistakes are easy to correct.

●People don’t remember as much as they think they do. Pass information through every step of the process so they don’t have to fill in things like billing amounts from memory.

●People are easily distracted. (SQUIRREL!) Bright colors, moving images, and sounds get their attention, but might also distract from the task you’re hoping they will complete.

●People respond to visual cues. Group like things together and use color to delineate sections. It will help users navigate your page.

The takeaway: Functional UX design is fast, simple, informational, and obvious. Optimize your landing pages with scientific-guided strategy.

Designing your website

Since there are so many factors to consider, including your own vision and taste, there is no right answer, but here are a few questions to help you figure it out:

Who are your customers? Are they young, old, male, female? How tech savvy are they? Are they connected-from-birth techies or baby boomers still trying to figure out how that email thing works?

What’s the simplest presentation? The least amount of text that conveys your message is best, and the amount of text you need to display can help you choose a style/layout.

What is your competition doing? Check out your heaviest competition to see what they are doing right.

What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)? Whatever makes your business stand out should be front and center. USP is the most important thing you can offer.

Remember, your web design is only the beginning. Once you get their attention with great design, you have to deliver the goods...or all your hard work is for nothing. To earn a consistently high conversion rate and retain your customers, deliver what you promise and more.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Sherry Gray
Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, FL, currently suffering the burbs of Orlando. She's a science geek, a political junkie, and a regular contributor to She writes about business, marketing, technology, medicine...and everything else.
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