How do I know if my website design is good?

Gauging the Quality of Web Design

Web design is about results, not self-expression. That means for our purposes, a well designed website is simply a site that gets the results you want. Visual design, content quality, and overall ease-of-use are all components that must add up to serving your business goals.

"Good web design," therefore, comes down to a simple question: are you meeting your conversion targets? Why or why not? That’s the key to figuring out if your website layout and overall design really is good.

What makes a well designed website?

“User Experience” or “UX” encapsulates all the contributing factors that go into good web design, from aesthetic beauty to usability to content quality.

A well designed website is going to be easy to use and gives your users everything they’re looking for.

Bad UX means your site is frustrating, hard to use, and leaves the user feeling like they’ve wasted their time.

Traits of Good Web Design

  • Responsive design for mobile devices
  • Clear, concise navigation with simple site architecture (i.e. not too many nested pages)
  • Well-organized and aesthetically-pleasing layouts
  • Visual design complements the content without distracting from it

Common Traits of Bad Web Design

Too much emphasis on SEO (Search Engine optimization)

A major complaint among internet users these days is that search engine optimization has ruined the web. They point out how every company these days has a blog, churning out AI-generated content whose sole purpose is to show up high in search engine rankings.

Crammed full of as many relevant keywords as possible, this content manages to be pretty low quality, and it's a huge hallmark of bad web design.

Too much emphasis on Visual Design

Sometimes, you need that 3-D render of an engine component, or that hi-res background video, or any number of visual tricks. But for the vast majority of cases, you really don't. In fact, they can get in the way.

Web design that prioritizes beauty over functionality will always feel cheap. Web users can smell it from a mile away, which is why even great websites keep layouts uncluttered with plenty of white space.

Page speeds also suffer when you use images larger than 250kb, import third-party libraries or plugins, or clog up your page with ads.

Complex Navigation and Visual Hierarchy

Remember, when someone lands on your web page, they're looking for something. They have a purpose. They're not there to admire your branding or your typography, none of that. They're searching for info, and if you make it hard to find that info, they aren't going to look for it. They're going to bounce and go somewhere else.

Good, responsive web design is clean, concise, and easy to read.

Beyond these simple evergreen tips, you're bound to run into more specific scenarios where they won't suffice. Eventually, you have to start running your own experiments to figure out where you need to optimize.

So let's take a look at a nice, repeatable process you can use to optimize your own website design.

7 Steps for Improving Your Website Design

1. Decide what metrics you care about and set targets

Start by understanding what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are most relevant to your business and target audience. These may include metrics like conversion rate, bounce rate, time spent on site, pages per session, and many others.

Consider what actions you want users to take on your site and how you can measure those actions.

Once you've identified the KPIs, you need to research industry benchmarks. This will give you an idea of what 'good' looks like for each metric. For example, if you operate an e-commerce site, you might look at average conversion rates for e-commerce sites to set a benchmark.

Remember, these benchmarks are just a starting point. It's important to set realistic expectations based on your specific situation and goals. Over time, you will develop your own benchmarks based on your site design's performance.

2. Measure your current metrics

Website analytics is a powerful tool that helps you understand how visitors interact with your website. By tracking various visitor side metrics such as page views, bounce rate, and conversion rate, you can gain insights into how your web design influences user behavior.

This data allows you to identify areas of your web design that are performing well and those that need improvement, helping you make data-driven decisions to enhance user experience and achieve your business goals.

Google Analytics is a popular and free tool that provides a wealth of information about your website's performance.

Here is how you can set up a Google Analytics account and connect it to your website:

  1. Visit the Google Analytics website and click on "Start for free."
  2. Sign in with your Google account. If you don't have one, you'll need to create one.
  3. Once you're signed in, click on "Set up for free."
  4. Enter a name for your account. This can be your business name or your website's name.
  5. Click next, and then enter the name of your website and its URL. Select an industry category and a reporting time zone.
  6. Under "Data Sharing Settings," check the boxes that correspond with the data you want to share with Google.
  7. Click on "Create." You will be asked to accept the terms of service and data processing terms.
  8. After you agree, you will be taken to a page that provides a tracking ID and code. This code needs to be installed on every page of your website you want to track.
  9. To install the code, copy it, and paste it into the head section of your website's HTML, before the closing head tag. If you're using a content management system or a website builder, there might be a dedicated field for Google Analytics where you can paste the code.

Remember, it may take up to 24 hours for data to appear in your Google Analytics account after installation.

With Google Analytics set up, you can now begin to analyze your website's performance and make informed decisions to improve it.

3. Compare current metrics against your targets

Comparing Metrics Against Your KPI Targets

Once you have your custom reports set up, you can use them to compare your current metrics against your KPI targets. Here's how to do it:

  1. Open your custom report in Google Analytics.
  2. Check the data for each of your identified KPIs. This data is your current performance.
  3. Compare this data to your KPI targets. If your current performance meets or exceeds your targets, your website is performing well in those areas. If not, these areas may need improvement.
  4. Keep track of these comparisons over time. This will help you understand how your website's performance is changing and identify any trends or patterns.

Remember, achieving your KPI targets is a process. It may take time and multiple iterations of improvements and testing to meet your goals.

Regularly reviewing your performance against your targets will keep you on track and help you understand the impact of any changes you make.

4. Form hypotheses

Forming hypotheses about why your current website performance isn't meeting the KPI targets involves deep diving into your website analytics, user feedback, and industry best practices. You need to identify patterns, trends, and possible bottlenecks in your website design that could be hindering your conversion rates.

Scenario: Low conversion rate on a lead form

Let’s say you have a lead form on a “Contact Us” page. You’re expecting 20% of your users to submit that form, but only 5% do. What’s the problem?

Upon reviewing search results from your website analytics, you've found that the same 5% of users are the only ones who even visit the “Contact Us” page in the first place. Only 5% of users see the form at all, but the ones who do fill it out 100% of the time.

This leads you to hypothesize that a design issue could be preventing users from finding the "Contact Us" page. The high form submission rate among visitors to the page indicates that the problem lies not with the form itself, but rather with users' ability to locate the page to begin with.

Here are three common web design mistakes that can lead to low conversion rates and how you can form hypotheses to address them:

Potential problem: Poor Call to Action (CTA) Placement or Messaging

The placement and messaging of your CTA buttons can significantly impact your conversion rates. If your CTA is not clearly visible or does not communicate the value proposition effectively, users may not be motivated to take the desired action. For example, a button that says "Contact Us" might be less attractive than a button that says "Learn More," or vice versa, depending on the context.

Hypothesis

Moving the CTA to a more prominent position on the page or changing the CTA text to more action-oriented language will increase conversion rates.

Potential problem: Complicated Navigation

If users find it difficult to navigate your site or find the information they are looking for, they are likely to leave without converting.

Hypothesis

Simplifying the site navigation and making commonly searched information more accessible will lead to an increase in conversion rates.

Potential problem: Slow Page Load Times

Slow-loading pages can lead to a high bounce rate as users tend not to wait for more than a few seconds for a page to load. This can be especially true if your site is heavy with high-resolution images, animations, or other media.

Hypothesis

Optimizing page load times by reducing image sizes, minimizing the use of heavy scripts, or using a content delivery network (CDN) can improve user engagement and conversion rates.

Remember, these are just hypotheses. They need to be tested, and the results analyzed to confirm their validity. Always base your hypotheses on data and user feedback to ensure they address real issues affecting your website's performance.

5. Run experiments to test your hypotheses

Implementing A/B Testing for Web Design

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a method of comparing two versions of a webpage or other user experience to determine which one performs better. It's a way to test changes to your webpage against the current design and determine which one produces better results.

Here's a basic outline of how to conduct an A/B test:

Select a Variable to Test

The first step in A/B testing is to identify a variable to test. This could be anything from the color of a button, the placement of a call to action (CTA), or the wording of a headline. Just try to avoid testing multiple site elements at once.

The key is to choose a single variable to change in the test version. If you change multiple variables, you won't be able to determine which change led to a difference in performance.

Create Two Versions: A (control) and B (variation)

Version A is the original version of your webpage or user interface. Version B is the new version where one element has been changed (based on your hypotheses). You will present version A to half of your test participants (randomly selected), and version B to the other half.

Split Your Audience

You'll need to split your audience into two groups. One group will see version A of elements on your website, and the other group will see version B. This is usually done randomly to ensure there's no bias in who sees which version.

Implement and Run the Test

You'll need an A/B testing software to run your test. Tools like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer can help you create different versions of your brand and webpages and deliver them to different segments of visitors.

6. Analyze Results

Once your test is complete, you'll need to analyze the results. Look at how the two versions of your webpage performed based on your KPIs. Did one version lead to more conversions, lower bounce rates, or higher time on page? The results of your test should give you a clear indication of which version is the most effective.

For example, let's say you run an A/B test where you change the color of a CTA button from blue (version A) to green (version B). You might find that the green button (version B) had a 20% higher click-through rate than the blue button (version A). In this case, you might decide to change all your CTA buttons to green to improve your site's overall performance.

7. Do it again

Website design isn't a one-and-done process; it's a continuous cycle of evaluating, hypothesizing, testing, and refining.

By consistently following the steps outlined above, you are not just reacting to changes but proactively seeking opportunities for improvement. This continuous optimization process ensures that relevant content on correct pages of your website remains effective, competitive, and aligned with your business goals.

Each round of this process provides valuable insights that help you understand your users better, improve their experience, and ultimately drive your website's performance. Remember, the goal is not to create a perfect website but a high-performing one that constantly adapts to deliver what your users want and what your business needs.

Wrap up: Your web design is fine if it's getting the results you want

In conclusion, determining whether your website design is good is not just about aesthetics—it’s about user experience, performance, and alignment with your business goals.

Using tools like Google Analytics can provide you with invaluable insights into your site's performance. Forming data-based hypotheses about potential improvements, running experiments to test these hypotheses, and continuously refining your design based on the results is an ongoing process.

This cycle of evaluation, testing, and refining ensures that your website continues to evolve and remain effective in delivering a satisfying user experience and achieving your business objectives.

Always remember, a good website design is a high-performing one that adapts to the needs of its users and the objectives of the business.

Curious about working together?

Book some time with me!

We'll talk about your project, and I'll help you break it up into smaller pieces. Then, we can look at the to-do list together and see where I can help out the most.