You’ve met these websites before. They’re bold and clear-sighted. Or maybe they’re quiet, but solidly anchored. Maybe both. Either way, they’re attractive and effective at persuading you to take action. You might describe them as visually strong.
Maybe you’ve seen articles with titles like “25 Visually Strong Web Designs for Inspiration”. What does that even mean? Acknowledging art and design terms are highly subjective, let’s explore this phrase and identify ways to build strength into your next web design.
The Two Second Test
Customers choose to stay or go based on the first two-seconds of their visit. In that critical moment, your whole business is judged. Visually strong web designs stand up to this test. Weak web designs are abandoned as visitors continue their search elsewhere.
A visually strong web design does three things in those two seconds. It clearly identifies your industry or category, convinces visitors of your company’s unique value, and leads visitors to become customers.
Establish Your Identity
For small companies focused on driving local business, the primary function of the website is to verify their identity. Local customers may drive past the location, see a road sign or get a business card passed from a friend. Interested customers’ next stop is Google. They want to peek in your door, see if anyone’s home and compare you with other choices.
If a firm handshake or business card forms the introduction, your website is the second impression. It validates the introduction’s positive impression and expands your customer’s understanding. They’re looking to know you better. Help your customer accomplish this research goal.
In this screenshot, NUTSANDWOODS takes a radically minimalist approach to identifying their business. The headline says “We Design Furniture” and the crisp professional photographs say “We Design Beautiful Furniture”. The signature form of their dinner table takes the place typically occupied by a logo.
There’s no question what Forge Fit does. There’s the silhouette of an athlete, training for action and a name that speaks to the strength building classes at the core of the business. Carefully selected stock photography builds the impression of results focused, intentional strength training.
Distinguish Your Company
So your company has a logo. So do most companies. What makes yours different? Great logos start with your unique value proposition and work out towards a unique expression of that value. Placing this mark at the top of your website starts the conversation with visitors about this value.
Hopefully your logo says something about you that’s unique. If not, maybe take a look at that and come back when you’re ready with a strong value statement and brand. Your website can’t do anything but express these, so they better be on point to start with.
Web designers use brand guidelines to unify elements in your web design with related colors, forms and layout decisions. The design gains strength by this grounding in your distinct livery.
Connect is a unique file organization tool for Windows users. Their branding is anchored by a logo which transforms a standard paper file icon into a lively, networked document. This logo establishes a theme of dotted lines and muted colors that’s repeated throughout the page, bringing the unique value expressed by the logo to each section.
Bold dynamism in real estate development defines The Garrett Companies. While the header keeps things simple, the homepage is dominated by an incredible picture of one of their recent projects and a simple text headline. Like NUTSANDWOODS, photography of the end product goes a long way to expressing the brand.
Lead Your Customer
As important as it is to establish and distinguish your brand, you want sales. You want a phone call, an email, a contact form submission, a landing page conversion, something that turns visitors into prospects and customers.
Visually strong web designs convey authority with clear purchase instructions. Confidently direct your visitors to the next step. There can be no confusion. Show visitors how to sign up, or quickly direct them to information that answers their remaining questions and resolves any hesitation.
Lees Ferry goes right after it. They’ve got a bold, outdoorsy brand and a neat background video that shows exactly what you get when you book a trip with their company. On top of that video, you’ll find a call to action (CTA) that commands me to plan my own fly fishing excursion. The conversion page that follows pairs a compelling picture with prominent booking information you can use at any hour to get started.
Quality Fabricated Solutions takes a similar approach. The main page headline clearly distinguishes their value, backed up by a slow motion video background. Flying sparks tell you something exciting is happening to that sheet of metal. Most importantly, the CTA button makes no bones about what you need to do to work with QFS: call this number. They avoid confusion by presenting a single, easy path to working with them.
There’s no hard and fast rule to visual strength in web design. But it starts with your core branding. Websites are often the primary expression of this branding. If your branding is weak, no wonder the website lacks unction. Strong web design starts with your identifying mark and leaves no question about what you do. They wrap themselves in your brand, expanding on elements found in the logo and integrating complementary features when necessary.
Most importantly, a visually strong website tells your customer what to do now that they’ve found you. While visitors must initiate their conversion into customers, they can only make the passage successfully if you lead them through.