Web design is highly specialized work, which is part technical, part artistic and part user experience. And each web designer has a set of principles – self-imposed rules on what is and what is not acceptable – up to date and effective in building the overall look of a website. At the same time, there are clients who contact designers and treat them as drawing tools, telling them exactly what to do.
These two extremes have helped foster and spread a series of myths. They sprout here and there in thought pieces about the future of web design, in best practices guidelines and, most of all, in the expectancies of clients regarding the final look and functionality of their websites.
For large companies, which have to maintain their brand image and perception by the public, such myths are dangerous because they can negatively impact the brand as a whole. A website built around these myths will not help the traffic funnel and conversion planned by the marketing team, and will become a costly liability instead of a valuable digital property.
These are the top misconceptions related to web design:
Everything Important Above the Fold
The main misconception related to web design is that all the important elements – logo, mission statement, Call to Action (CTA) – should be placed on the first viewable portion of the web page. This used to be true in the past, when everyone browsed websites only from a computer. Now, with so many mobile devices which connect to the internet, people have learned to scroll down and expect interesting and useful content below the fold.
Actually, a study conducted by Content Verve showed that a CTA placed below the fold performed better than a CTA above the fold by 304% (yes, three hundred and four percent!).
White Space Is Wasted Space
“It looks empty and unprofessional” is the key argument given by people who want to populate each square inch of the screen with graphics, photos or text. As a counter example, one of the top brands in the world, Apple, which is perceived as a high-end manufacturer of IT gadgets, uses a lot of white space in all their marketing and branding materials – starting with their website and ending with each product brochure.
White space helps the eye relax and focus on the content element of the page – a photo, a video, a few paragraphs of text. Adding white space by breaking texts into paragraphs with sub-headings actually helps people read it easier and get the main ideas expressed in the content by skimming through it.
We Need Lots of Widgets
Widgets are helpful. If you run a financial investment company, a stock exchange ticker and the official currency exchange widget will be very helpful for your clients. But having every stock exchange in the world on the sides of your screens, plus a mortgage calculator and the latest news from China scrolling will not make your website look more professional.
Instead, it will make it look cluttered; it will make it load slower and may even compromise its security (or your viewers’) because many viruses and Trojans use 3rd party widgets as a means of infiltration.
Our Website Is a Sales Tool
Yes, you are using your website to find new customers and you keep your online store attached to your website – but this does not mean that you can shed away every other functionality and design element. Most people who start browsing your website for the first time are not ready to make a purchase. They need to discover reasons why they should buy from you.
These reasons are in the form of helpful and interesting content on your web pages and blog. First time website visitors do not want to see a big CTA button on each page. Instead, they want to find an answer to a question or problem they have and clear and crisp copy detailing your company’s expertise in your specific line of business.
There are many more other myths related to web design which you may encounter. Some of them may be even embedded in your corporate style guide. This is why it is critical to work with a professional web design company which can build a professional looking website for you.