Web design — or more specifically, what users define as a “good” or attractive website — is changing all the time. Need proof? Think back to the early 2000s and what websites looked like then. Not good, right?
The thing is, most website owners don’t want to invest the time and money into a full site revamp every time a new trend or aesthetic takes hold. Not to mention, most people aren’t Web or graphic designers by trade, and therefore don’t necessarily have all of the skills and tools they need to completely redesign their sites. Most people just devote their energy to making the site look as good as possible, and try to avoid thinking about the day when they’ll have no choice but to refresh an outdated look.
Even if you aren’t ready for a full website redesign, you can make your site look fresh and current, without any experience in coding or design.
Refresh #1: Rewrite Your Content
Content drives users to your site. Is it doing its job? Conduct a content audit to make sure that everything on your site is useful, up-to-date, and in line with current best practices. For example, old content that employs out-of-date SEO practices isn’t doing you any favors.
Even just redesigning your content to replace large blocks of text with bullet points, or turning some posts into infographics, can attract a new audience. Not to mention, the freshness of your site influences SEO, so updating older content helps you in that department.
Refresh #2: Use Icons
One trend that’s gaining traction is the use of icons to represent certain ideas or calls to action; for example, using a simple drawing of an envelope to indicate a contact form or a shopping cart to navigate to your store.
Icons don’t have to be complicated, but they add a professional and trendy feeling to the site in addition to making navigation easier.
Refresh #3: Use Colors Strategically
It seems so simple, but so many websites don’t use colors to their advantage. Colors create an immediate, visceral reaction in users, while also setting the tone for the site.
Choose a color scheme that reflects your business — in other words, skip the hot pink and aqua when promoting your consulting firm — and be consistent throughout the site. Use colors that are complementary and easy to read, and avoid using large areas of light text on a dark background.
Refresh #4: Apply Principles of Visual Hierarchy
One thing that skilled designers understand is the pattern that most people follow when looking at images. On websites, most people look at the page top to bottom and left to right.
This means that the most attention is paid to the top left corner of your page. This is the place to put your most important information — i.e., your call to action. You don’t want to clutter this space with too much information, since that will overwhelm visitors.
Use the principle of visual hierarchy to then place other information, with the relatively least important details in the lower right corner.
Refresh #5: Clear the Clutter
It’s tempting to cram your home page with as much information as possible. It’s where visitors land first, so you want to hit them with everything you’ve got. Except a cluttered website is overwhelming and hard to navigate: With buttons, badges, banners, popups, links, and more it’s impossible to know where to go first.
Keep your design as simple as possible, with each page populated with only the most important information and navigational tools to help users move through the site. It will feel more current, and your users will appreciate not being assaulted with information.
Refresh #6: Use Typography Effectively
Fonts are fun. But including too many fonts, or fonts that are hard to read, on your site, just makes it feel cluttered and unprofessional. Stick to two or three fonts that represent your brand, and make sure they are easy to read, in terms of size and style. Spend some time learning some principles of typography, too. Little things, such as the spacing between lines and the placement of pull quotes, can make a big difference in the readability and appearance of your site.
Refresh: #7: Boost the Contrast
Finally, remember that white space is your friend. You don’t have to fill every square inch of space with content. Give your visitors a place to rest their eyes. The contrast will help your content stand out, and keep your visitors on the site.
Any one of these ideas can help keep your website looking current, and most don’t take longer than a few hours. The payoff, though, is far greater than the time spent, so spend some time making your site look great.