Designer secrets to make your site look amazing
Design. I’ve heard it called magic, mind-reading, and mysterious. While it often takes a trained eye to catch the details, or the experience to quickly and efficiently make strategic changes, many DIY bloggers and business owners can get the same effect.
It’s time to bust that cloud of mystery. Below are some secrets that are easy to implement and will level up your branding. Why? Because your budget shouldn’t be what stops you from having a site that looks great and fits your business!
1. Logo Size
As a designer, the most common request is to “make the logo bigger.” I get it. This business is your baby! You want to show it off at all times just like a first time parent takes a photo of their little bundle of joy, every 10 minutes.
The designer truth: 99% of the time, the logo shouldn’t get bigger. On your website, the visitors already clicked on something that had your name on it so they know where they’re at. On social media, users are less attracted to a logo on the image versus a powerful image or video. On these, the logo can be small and off to the side.
Some businesses don’t even add a logo to their images on social media! Check out sites like Henri Bendel or their Facebook posts. They also keep the logo small to really show off what they’re offering.
2. Negative Space
Also known as “white space,” this is the area between content on a site. Typically, DIY websites are in serious need of some extra space and they look cluttered or constricted.
Look at squarespace templates for inspiration or sites such as Nasty Gal whose entire branding is based on increased negative space. If in doubt, just add the space.
3. Make things easy to read
This comes in 3 forms. Text size, typeface, and size of the blocks of text.
When creating your website, your paragraph text should typically fall around 13 or 14 points with the line height similar to that of a line or line and a half. Make sure that the height of the your headlines is obviously larger - so that anyone skimming through would be able to read only the headlines and get the idea of the article.
Typefaces are my addiction but I always make sure to use fancy ones in as few places as possible while keeping them readable. Script fonts could be hard to read when small. If it’s the main headline on a page, make it a fancy or your brand’s typeface. If it’s anything not, keep it a simple font such as Helvetica.
Blocks of text should be kept to no more than 75 characters (including spaces) wide and 3 sentences tall. If there’s about 3 paragraphs in a row, add a sub-headline or take a quote out of the section.
That will help break up the reading, make it less overwhelming, and give the page a great hierarchy and breathing room.
4. Navigation menu
Rule of thumb for the menu: Keep it simple. Avoid overcrowding by sticking to about 5 menu items. Designers do this by asking, “What’s the most important goal of the website?” If it’s to get more people into a free course, then the free course needs to be there while all your other offerings need to be removed or bundled under one menu item (it can have a dropdown with links).
Why? Best practice research shows that the more options you give a user, the more distracted and overwhelmed they become. Your site also loses focus of your goals and how to get leads into your funnel.
5. Simplify your color scheme
Your site should really only have about 3 colors max. The main color and 2 subordinate, or detail colors, and they should be easy to identify. Test this by asking someone to look at your site and point to the main color. If they’re correct, you’re on the right path!
If you have more than the 3 colors or your test subject points to the wrong one, it’s time to change.
Main colors are typically used in headlines, logos, and buttons. The secondary color is used in borders, sub-headlines, and possibly links or on-hover effects. The third color (if you even need one) can also be used in links or thin divider lines.
A basic rule of thumb is to keep about 80% of your site black and white. You could do a white background with the majority of text black. The color scheme should take up about 20%. The real color should come in with well-branded images and graphics.
Creating a website on your own is difficult, especially when it’s not your biggest skill set, but that doesn’t have to stop you from making it look elevated and professional. Just keep in mind: Simple and Open. Keep colors, logos, and fonts simple while adding a bit of open space. That will give you the website that you’ve been looking for while making it easy to update and grow.
About the Author:
Yasmine Robles helps entrepreneurs get the drool-worthy business graphics and websites they deserve. Fun fact: If she’s not designing, you can usually find her sipping margaritas and dancing to salsa - even if it’s just in her living room. Get free brand help at Robles Designs. Connect with Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!