Learn how to captivate your audience with these tips.
As a writer, I often leave the introduction for last because I know I have mere seconds to captivate you, my reader. When it comes to web design, the challenge is the same: How can I capture your attention when you have nearly infinite reasons to click away?
If you’re learning how to make a website that captivates visitors before they have the chance to hit the “back” button, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll share all the strategies I’ve gained over the years that I’ve spent working as a digital product designer.
- Be honest about what you’re offering
- Focus on the hero section
- Speed up your website
- Break the monotony of content
- Feature eye-catching imagery
- Maintain consistency
- Add elements that can engage users
- Design an easy-to-understand
- Design for your audience
- Optimize web design for mobile
01. Be honest about what you’re offering
If you’ve spent any time surfing the web (and you’re here, so odds are you have), you’ve probably developed a strong aversion to clickbait. You might associate the term with those peculiar images paired with cryptic headlines that lurk in the ad sections of websites, but let’s be clear: clickbait is any type of content that makes promises it can’t deliver on. It’s akin to someone vigorously waving their arms and shouting, “hey, look over here!” only to freeze up because they didn’t actually have anything to show you.
- Manage expectations: When you’re crafting headlines for search engines or posts for social media, it’s incredibly tempting to exaggerate what you’re offering. But this isn’t the kind of attention you’re after. Your goal is to attract users who genuinely share an interest in what you’re providing. For instance, had I titled this article something like, “10 foolproof tips for getting millions of views,” I might have initially attracted more readers, but I wouldn’t be able to sustain it because they would’ve quickly realized that I’m offering practical strategies rather than a magic spell.
- Provide accurate and thorough product information: When showcasing products or services, make sure that the information you provide is accurate and up-to-date. Clearly state any limitations or conditions.
- Don’t make claims you can’t support: When you make claims that you can’t verify, you risk damaging your reputation and credibility. Users are discerning and often quick to fact-check. If they discover inconsistencies or falsehoods, it can lead to distrust and trust once lost is challenging to regain.
02. Focus on the hero section
When it comes to designing a website that grabs your audience’s attention, one area deserving of your utmost focus is the hero section (a.k.a., above the fold). This is the area that visitors see without scrolling. It may be tempting to cram as much information in this area as possible, but the reverse is actually better: remove all unnecessary details from this area so your visitors can focus on the primary purpose of your website.
Take the landing page for Wix’s eCommerce website builder as an example. It features very little copy so that visitors focus on the main header. “The first fold is where you actually convert people,” says Esin Habif, Wix’s outbound marketing lead. When it comes to landing pages, she says most visitors never scroll past the hero fold. An eye-tracking data study, which says that users spend about 57% of their time above the fold, confirms Habif’s experience.
- Use ample white space: Trying to utilize all available screen estate is one of the key mistakes that web designers make. When web designers fill all available screen space with content and functional elements, they create busy layouts that make it harder for visitors to comprehend. But there is a simple solution for this problem called white space. White space, also known as negative space, is the empty space between elements on the page. Try to use white space strategically—to highlight key content and make the website more visually appealing.
- Make a call to action: The hero section’s role is to spark curiosity and inspire action. Therefore, a clear and compelling call-to-action (CTA) button should take center stage. Whether it’s “Get Started,” “Buy Today,” or “Learn More,” this CTA guides users into deeper engagement with your site.
- Be bold: A compelling hero image or video can transport visitors into your digital world, evoking emotion and curiosity. It’s like the opening shot of a movie, setting the stage for what’s to come. The hero section’s aesthetics should reflect your brand identity, with a harmonious color palette and typography that encapsulate your essence.
03. Speed up your website
Whether you’re waiting for an elevator to come or a taxi to arrive, waiting is annoying. But when it comes to web design, we’re generally downright intolerant of the waiting time. Kissmetrics found that about half of users expect a website to load in two seconds or less. If it takes longer than that, people leave without a second thought. It’s vital to focus on improving the website’s loading time by:
- Optimizing media: Heavy images and videos take time to load. Combat this issue by using compression tools to shrink file sizes while preserving quality. Alternatively, consider saving your files in formats like WebP or mp4, which maintain excellent quality in smaller file sizes.
- Streamlining motion effects: Complex animations can be impressive—if your visitors don’t have to wait to see them. If your website’s taking forever to load, it may be a sign that you need to remove those animations.
- Using a speedy website builder: Opt for a website builder that is known for its speed and efficiency in rendering web pages.
Learn more about Wix’s performance and how it can help boost your website speed.
04. Break the monotony of content
Despite how short attention spans are these days, longer content generally performs better than short content, both on search engines and social media. According to an analysis of 912 million blog posts, the average word count of a top-10 result on Google is 1,447 words. The study also revealed that longer content is more likely to gain backlinks and social shares.
- Keep things brief: In the battle for attention, brevity is your ally. Avoid long-winded introductions or paragraphs that meander. In general, it’s best to keep the size of your paragraphs on the shorter side, as long blocks of text can be overwhelming. Instead, get straight to the heart of your message. Think of your content like a well-edited movie—every scene serves a purpose, driving the plot forward.
- Make it scanner-friendly: When people visit a new web page, they don’t read all content on this page word by word; they scan the content to find areas of interest. While you aim for thorough reading, it’s crucial to optimize content for skim reading. Use concise, engaging headings and subheadings to help people find the sections that are relevant to them. Lists and bullets (like this one) are also helpful for breaking up long sections of text.
- Tell a story: Weaving a narrative can be a potent tool for holding attention. Stories engage the audience emotionally and make the content more relatable. Use anecdotes or case studies that resonate with your audience’s experiences. Injecting a touch of humor here and there can further help to make the content more memorable.
05. Feature eye-catching imagery
In the realm of web design, the age-old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” takes on profound significance. The picture superiority effect—a well-studied phenomenon—reveals that people process visual information faster and retain it better than text or spoken language. In fact, Dr. John Medina wrote in his book, Brain Rules, that while people only remember 35% of what they read, they remember 65% when the writing is paired with pictures.
- Choose wisely: Eye-catching imagery and animations serve as magnets, drawing your audience into your content. Whether it’s a photograph that evokes emotion or a graphic that illustrates a complex concept, these elements can help you captivate your readers.
- Don’t overdo it: It’s important to strike a balance between visual richness and website performance, as overloading your website with imagery can slow down your site which, as you know, tends to scare visitors away. Select visuals that align with your content’s message and purpose, ensuring they enhance rather than detract from the user experience.
- Maintain accessibility: One crucial aspect to remember is that not all of your visitors may be able to see these visuals. Therefore, it’s imperative to provide context for everyone by adding descriptive alt text. This ensures that your content remains inclusive and accessible to all, regardless of their abilities or limitations.
06. Maintain consistency
Think of a design style as a language that you use to communicate with your user. This language should remain constant, serving as a reliable guide regardless of where users navigate on your website. A consistent design style harmonizes every aspect of your website, from the color palette to typography and layout, ultimately enhancing the user experience.
- Use a color palette: A cohesive color palette that remains consistent across all sections of your website creates a visual thread that ties everything together. This not only imparts a sense of order and professionalism but also helps users navigate effortlessly, knowing that certain colors signify specific actions or information.
- Stick to two to three fonts: Limiting your font selection to two or three guarantees readability and prevents visual clutter. This approach clarifies your communication, maintaining a clean and cohesive look across the site. Typography becomes a reliable guide, directing users through your content with ease.
- Make the layout predictable: Just as a well-organized book follows a consistent structure, your website’s layout should maintain a uniformity that users can rely on. This consistency in the arrangement of elements, from headers to footers, offers predictability and aids users in finding what they seek.
07. Add elements that can engage users
If your website focuses on informational or utilitarian content, you’re probably aware that maintaining your visitors’ attention is going to be especially difficult. But it’s not impossible—you have the power to transform aspects of your site that are dull and repetitive (like filling out a form or going through the online shopping checkout) into fun, engaging experiences.
- Use microinteractions: Microinteractions are small design elements that provide immediate feedback to the user, such as hover and scroll effects. They can help to create a more interactive and engaging user experience.
- Incorporate gamification: Imagine your website as an immersive game world, where users earn badges for completing tasks or receive rewards for their loyalty. These elements trigger a sense of achievement and progression, turning a routine visit into an exciting journey.
- Personalized content: One-size-fits-all no longer suffices in the digital landscape. Personalized content, such as product recommendations based on user behavior or preferences, crafts a more relevant and engaging user experience. It’s like having a virtual concierge that anticipates your needs and offers precisely what you’re looking for. This level of personalization doesn’t just engage users; it keeps them coming back for more.
08. Design an easy-to-understand navigation system
Just as a well-planned road system assures smooth travel, a thoughtfully designed navigation system makes it easy for users to reach their desired destinations within your website.
- Incorporate secondary navigation methods: Along with designing a primary navigation (main menu), you might want to use alternative navigation, such as breadcrumbs, and offer search functionality to help users find what they’re looking for.
- Consider user tasks: Think about the tasks that people want to complete. It will help you to create a proper hierarchy of navigation options that allow users to do what they want.
- Follow accessibility best practices: Accessibility features, like keyboard navigation and accessible forms, can help to make the website more accessible to all groups of users, including people with disabilities. By improving accessibility, the website can reach a wider audience and provide a better user experience for all users.
09. Design for your audience
You may think that designing an attention-grabbing website is about flashy effects and funky fonts, but aesthetics are just one small piece of the puzzle. Effective web design is rooted in doing your target audience research—you have to understand what will captivate them. Who are your intended visitors? What websites do they frequent?
The answers to these sorts of questions should inform every decision you make, from the tone of your content to the selection of your color scheme. Tailoring your website to meet the preferences, needs and expectations of your audience guarantees that you’ll not only capture their attention, but you’ll also be able to keep it.
- Test, adjust and test again: Understanding what works and what doesn’t for your target audience takes time. That’s why it’s vital to constantly monitor your website performance by tracking user behavior and making informed decisions about website design.
- Speak their language: Use the terminology, phrases and expressions that resonate with your audience. Communicating in a language they understand and relate to fosters a sense of connection and relatability.
- Consider their tech savvy: If your audience isn’t particularly tech-savvy, keeping things as simple and predictable as possible is your best bet. On the other hand, you have room to experiment with nontraditional styles and web design trends if your audience spends a lot of time online.
10. Optimize web design for mobile
There were 7.33 billion mobile users in 2023, encompassing nearly everyone on the planet. With this pervasive mobile presence, optimizing web design for mobile devices has transitioned from a choice to a vital necessity.
- Prioritize responsive design: A responsive design ensures that your site remains user-friendly, whether accessed on a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.
- Craft a mobile-friendly layout: Embrace a mobile-first approach, where your initial design focuses on the smallest screens and then progressively scales up for larger displays. By employing this approach, you can be certain that your site maintains its functionality and appeal across all devices.
- Optimize images for mobile: Optimize image sizes for mobile viewing. By employing smaller image files, you reduce load times, thereby enhancing performance on mobile devices. Faster loading speeds contribute significantly to a positive user experience.