6 Essential Elements of Successful Website Design

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Mandy Wilson

Mandy is a Director and Content Manager at Cree Digital

website design
Table of Contents

Website design is a multi-layered process. Bringing each element together to produce a hardworking website is something of an art.  This article seeks to explain how each of the elements is essential to a successful website.

1. Appearance

So, websites have to look amazing to get visitors? Yes, with just a handful of exceptions. HMRC’s website can get away with having an ugly face. Not because its personality makes up for it, but because most of us don’t have a choice about whether we want to visit and spend an annoyingly long time on the site (boo). Try typing ‘UK Tax return’ into Google search. Guess who has the top ranking in the SERPs for that?

Unfortunately, most businesses don’t have the luxury of a captive audience. We’re all in competition with each other, jostling for the top spots in the search engine return pages. Beauty may be skin deep but it really is the very first step to getting your website noticed.

Typography & Structure

Keep your users engaged and informed with carefully planned typography. You should aim to take them on a journey beginning with the most important information and leading effortlessly towards ancillary information. Simple, easy to read font is the best way to communicate the ideas of your website.


Always subjective but the goal is to get your site to ‘pop’. Consider how colours contrast with each other. Neutral colours are popular but there is a fine line between neutral and dreary. You can use these more muted colours but balance them with hints of accent colours such as teal, orange or any warm palette colour. Equally, really bright primary colours can jar and should be used sparingly. Your end user is much more likely to be impressed by an aesthetically pleasing page.

Layout & Hierarchy

Great website design will use a combination of imagery and typography to guide the site visitor’s journey.

Website designers use the term hierarchy to describe level priority for the information on the page. Information should be compartmentalised in an intelligent way that first locks in interest, then keeps the user engaged and encouraged to read on. Easily digestible chunks of information are more likely to keep a visitor on site and heading for a transaction than huge pieces of overwhelming text, which risk loss of attention.

2. Your website must perform equally well on mobiles, laptops & PCs

More and more people are accessing the internet using mobile devices. If your site looks askew and doesn’t navigate well across every type of device your visitors will bounce away before you can say Zebedee!

3. User experience (UX)

Let’s go back to the HMRC website analogy for a moment… The deadline is approaching and you need to file your Self Assessment in a hurry. Let’s be kind here and suggest the site’s UX could be improved. A lot. If there were another site that would take you where you want to be, seamlessly and quickly, you’d choose it. But there isn’t. HMRC is competing with nobody, and it seems we’re stuck with a sub-ideal user experience.

So, if we remind ourselves that our potential audience is pretty far from captive, we’ve going to have to box clever and woo visitors with  fast loading pages and an easily navigated site. Guiding potential clients from page to page like a well-practised waltz, we want them to enjoy the dance and find what they’re looking for, painlessly.

4. Website Copy

Just to squeeze a little more  from the HMRC website  analogy, their content is what it is. It does the job… You may have to pay interest and a penalty if you do not file and pay on time.’ The UX just got even worse, but to be fair it is informative and factual and it’s not actually going to lose the (captive) site visitor.

On the other hand, your website copy will have to work hard to keep your visitor reading. He/she/they will have arrived with a purpose. Usually to make their life better by:

  • Learning something
  • Comparing something
  • Buying something
  • Contacting or transacting with you

Work out how you will fulfil those needs as quickly as possible. Remember, attention spans are shortening and you have just a few seconds to grab attention with well-written content answering these needs.

5. Search Optimisation

No more HMRC analogies, sadly. We’re pretty sure they don’t need to worry about SEO. But you do!

Billions of searches are performed online every day and showing up on search engines results pages (SERPS) could be the difference between having a business that is growing or one that is failing.

Improving your website to increase search visibility (SEO) will lead to higher volumes of website traffic. To impress the search engine bots who spend their days crawling, analysing and ranking websites, a combination of factors must be optimised, including:

  • Content
  • Website design
  • Structure
  • Links
  • User experience

6. Regular Content Update

SEO is a long term strategy – results don’t happen on day one and consumer preferences can be fickle.  To maintain your SERP ranking, you need to have plenty of landing pages with continually updated content. Stale content will make the search engines think your website is dead, so inject a little happiness into your site with some fresh, high-quality content.


Your website is a golden opportunity to impress. It can be the first thing your potential customers see; their chance to find out about you and whether you can help them and make their life better. A poor impression will result in a lost customer. Great website design will give your visitors an amazing user experience. Then, you will reap the benefits, with greater conversions and a loyal customer base.

An underperforming website could be costing you money and customers. Contact us  to see how we could help give you the competitive edge.

We also offer a full Website and Marketing Review package designed to increase leads and conversions for just £99

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