When NOT to Be a Guerrilla: Website Design 101

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When NOT to Be a Guerrilla: Website Design 101 Guerrilla Marketing PhotoWhile being different and bold is a highly effective marketing strategy in many arenas, when it comes to your website, it can blow up in your face. Here are suggestions for when and why it makes more sense to be bland and boring to achieve the best results.

To Communicate Clearly with Web Visitors

The people who come to your site will range from very familiar with your services to completely ignorant—and if you decide to make your website fun and flashy when you’re not; formal and business-like when you’re trying to attract a young, hip crowd; or subtly clever without a way of cluing viewers in, you run the risk of misunderstanding. Yet misunderstandings about tone are only half the battle: the biggest risk of going out-of-the-box with your Web design is that you miss the chance to tell visitors about your company and what it offers. If people come to your site and think it looks cool, is interesting, etc., but don’t learn more about or engage with you, your website isn’t working well.

To Take Advantage of Convention

There’s a reason website templates are so popular—designers specifically create them to provide functionality, style and user engagement. But whether you’re looking at templates or custom designs, you’ll see constants generally at work: balance, grids, color, graphics, etc. Going against those constants is a risk. If users come to your site and find all the content upside-down, for instance, you might make a splash, but you’ll also take away from their user experience.

To Optimize Search Results

Search is the most common way people discover websites, but when you go against search-friendly Web design tactics, you set your site up to get overlooked. That’s why, in terms of getting your site picked up in search results, it’s best to go with what works: strategic page titles, keywords, quality page content, etc. Through quality search optimization tactics, you help your audience be able to find you.

To Be Easy to Read

Spacing is crucial to making your website easy to read. You could crowd all the content together to fit in more information, but then readers will have a hard time catching it all. That’s why sticking to good spacing makes sense—help visitors find the information they’ll be looking for in order to build engagement and relationship.

To Highlight Important Info

Along with spacing, the colors, fonts and layout you use on your site help you focus the reader’s attention on particular parts and information. Because the first few seconds that a visitor spends on your site are the most crucial, you want to make the most important, interest-grabbing info prominent, above the fold (i.e., viewable before a reader has to scroll down on the page). Bright or contrasting colors can draw attention to certain sections like your call to action, for example.

Looking at this list, it’s easy to see there are definite reasons to avoid going bold and unconventional with your Web presence. Have you seen this to be true? And on the flip side, what other parts of a Web design could be dramatically altered for the sake of effect?

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Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a leader among Chicago Web design agencies that provides SEO, Web development and other online marketing services. She holds an MA in Writing from DePaul University and has been writing professionally since 2004.