Creating a visually appealing website can be a challenge, even for a designer. There are many elements that need to be considered, and the colours and layout are just the beginning. Usability and consistency are also important, and this is where a professional web developer is essential to making your website an eCommerce or business site that invites and retains customers.

There are 4 basic design elements for any website are:

  1. Design and Color
  2. Pictures and Graphics
  3. Usability
  4. Consistency

These elements are more than just the foundations, they are the communications tools that you have as a business.

Design & Color

The first step to making a website visually appealing are the colors you design with. It’s what first catches your eye. Colors influence how we perceive a brand as they raise emotional reactions and mental associations.

Color catches the eye and provides an instant layer of communication. Even before the conscious mind has started thinking, the subconscious has already assessed if something is interesting or not. Purely based on colors.

We process meaning from color almost instantly. Color psychology is the study of how colors send messages, such as red makes us feel hungry and is therefore used by many fast-food chains, or white for weddings, death, or peace – depending on your culture. Color choices are very important in the early stages of brand development, as those choices for a business logo will influence your website design too.

That’s why sites with cluttered colors, competing color schemes, or garish color choices don’t instil confidence. A cleanly laid out website with a clear color scheme tells visitors that you care enough to want to pay attention to details and offer them a really pleasing experience.

According to a study conducted by Adobe, more than 66% of web users judge a website on the quality of its graphics within the first 15 seconds of landing on the homepage.

The message here is that you should be presenting a site that is colour-conscious, using complementary images that communicate a consistent message through your use of color.

Pictures and Graphics

Using stock pictures and graphics is a simple way to create your website, however, it can also make it look generic and dull. The best images are your own. Access to professional photographers and graphics designers can be cost-effective if you have a clear concept and direct the creative process.

The reason your images are so important is that they form part of the conversation you are having with your potential client. The better the pictures, the better your business will look.


Books have a cover, table of contents, chapters and notes, or a variation of that based on the genre. Websites are the same.

  1. Checkout near the top.
  2. Menu indicating the sections of the site.
  3. A search/helpdesk on the home page.
  4. Site description, tag and product or service description above the fold on the home page.

A great website is intuitive and usable. For most people, the essential elements for usability are:

  1. Immediately communicate your purpose, with clarity and an inviting tone with above the fold content.
  2. A simple, clear menu that organizes the pages of the site, with the most important pages first.
  3. A ‘customer service’ feature, with a contact page or contact details in the header and footer, or a live chat so people can contact you for support, especially if yours is an eCommerce site.
  4. Brief product or service information to tease customers.
  5. A layout that makes use of the design rule of thirds to balance a site.

Your site should not be focused on selling. It should be customer-focused, meaning that you provide much information and knowledge for the client without an obvious ‘sell’ element. Make it easy to use:

  1. Make your menu/site navigation prominent, and simple.
  2. Keep your content distinct from other elements and typed in a clear font.
  3. Make your CTA buttons stand out.
  4. Decide what is most important on any page, and then give it prominence.
  5. Include white space to draw attention and allow the site to breathe, looking clean and well organised.


Consistency is key. You need to select a layout and continue to use it repeatedly on your website. Again thinking of a book, the cover introduces the theme, setting the mood, then the inside pages are all set out using the same font, spacing, section styles, image sizes and other elements that make it unified.

On a website site, you first need to decide your three tiers of importance:

  • primary importance
  • secondary importance
  • detail

Your headlines and the above-the-fold area should convey the content with primary importance. Then look at the rest of your page, and structure it so that someone scanning it gets a clear sense of what you are communicating.

A design layout that is easy to see has a strong contrast between elements, and highlights the most important points is one that is consistent. A website that links with the logo, personality of the business, social media and all printed materials is a brand. If you can establish a style guide for your brand you can develop a voice that is clear and consistent with relative ease.

For example;

  • all quotes might use bold italics font
  • all images might have cobalt blue in them
  • all content might use British English

Consistency communicates trustworthiness. It shows your potential customers that you pay attention to detail, care about their experience and are professional enough to establish a brand voice and concept that you will apply to all interactions.

Final Thoughts

Building a website that has a consistent and clear layout with easy navigation and inviting color schemes is easy when you choose to use templates created by SaaS providers like WordPress or Wix. While they do run the risk of appearing generic, they are a great place to start if you do not have a web developer, if you are on a limited budget, or even if you just want to try your hand at building a website without learning to code.

Your website is no longer an extension of your business, for many potential clients, they view it as your business. It is important that you understand the importance of creating a website that appeals to traffic so that you can improve conversion and retention rates and appeal to more potential clients with your main lead-generation tool.