First of all, what is visual design? Like graphic design, it focuses on the aesthetics but is more concerned with web design and its user interface.
Visual design is often associated with the broader concept of visual communication. It is how you relay your message to target audiences using visual elements such as pictures and graphics.
What comes into play are principles and elements of design that you utilize to improve the look and feel of your website. The purpose is to attract visitors’ attention and engage them.
The effective use of lines, colors, shapes, balance, contrast, emphasis, and others as well as careful placement of text, images and other content in your website can do wonders. It can even result in a positive company bottom line.
There are several reasons why visual design is important to your business. We’ll go through the most important ones.
We Are All Visual People
People remember pictures but struggle to retain text. While sight is our supreme sense the truth is we’re inefficient when it comes to reading. In fact, one study disclosed that people only remember 10% of information after three days but remembers 65% of information if it has a picture.
What does this tell us? People – consumers and users – are extremely good at recalling images. Come to think of it, people just need to see the towering sign of twin connected golden arches to know there’s a great fast food around.
So follow the cue. On your website, put in your logo together with company colors or mascot if you have one. Fill up your banner page with a picture of your best product or smiling pictures of satisfied customers.
When people get hooked by pictures, they are more likely to read the text and learn what your site has to offer and what your business is all about.
First Impression Counts
Consider these findings and you’ll see why first impression is vital:
- It takes 50 milliseconds for users to make an initial opinion about your website which determines whether they will leave or stay. (doi.org Behavior and IT study)
- In 17 to 50 milliseconds, users can form an aesthetic judgment of your website. It’s faster than the eye can blink at 100 to 400 ms. (Google research)
- 94% of first impressions are related to design. (UK design and content study)
A Missouri University eye-tracking study found out where users spend their crucial seconds when visiting a website for the first time:
- Logo - 6.48 seconds
- Navigation menu - 6.44 seconds
- Search box – 6+ seconds
- Main image - 5.94 seconds
- Written content - 5.59 seconds
- Footer - 5.25 seconds
First impression is greatly influenced by various design factors. These include the use of images, colors, font size and type, and intuitive navigation. Use them well in your website’s visual design. You only have seconds to keep your visitors interested.
Of course, be ready with that logo. If you don’t have any logo yet, no need to worry. You’ve got here the number one logo maker in LOGO.com.
Boost Brand And Image
Visual design helps you develop a visual identity which in turn helps you reinforce your brand. What then are the visual identifiers that you must carry in your website to boost brand and image?
There are four primary mechanisms of visual identity – logo, images, typography, and color. Your website must be visually designed to make these different components unified and working together.
There must be careful consideration on how you design your logo. Remember, a logo is a big part of brand identity. Every element in it – the font, imagery, text – affects how your brand is perceived.
Whether you DIY or outsource, it is best to follow this ultimate guide on how to design a logo so that the outcome is what you envisioned.
The key to brand and identity is consistency. Below are some ways to do it:
- Carry your logo everywhere.
- Adopt your corporate colors throughout.
- Maintain the same set of fonts.
- Use images and graphics that are associated with your business.
- Apply the same familiar layout that is straightforward to navigate.
Then utilize all those components continually across all your digital platforms (website, online store, and social media) as well as physical assets (products, packaging, printed materials, etc).
Develop Trust And Goodwill
Do you recall the importance of first impression? You have just moments to capture your visitors and engage them.
A research study reported that 55% of visitors stayed no more than 15 seconds actively on a page. In that case you better make sure to have the requisites to hook them and make them stay longer. On top of your checklist should be good design and great content.
In those critical seconds, first time visitors would not have even read anything yet. But your visuals and graphics would already have made an impression.
You may come across as having invested enough time and effort to make your website look professional and pleasing. The power of carefully placed design elements can hold and lead viewers, encouraging them to further explore your site.
A good website design builds credibility for your business. A Stanford web credibility research revealed that a whooping 75% of users assessed a company’s credibility according to the design of its website. Take heed!
You know by now that words alone aren’t the most efficient way to communicate. Visual communication is the way. Why? The Visual Teaching Alliance pointed out the following:
- Information received by the brain is 90% visual.
- Visuals are processed by the brain 60,000x faster compared to text.
- Up to 36,000 visual messages every hour are registered by human eyes.
You’ve seen the trend in visual communication and may even be using them now in relaying messages and information to your audience.
We’re talking about infographics, slide decks, PowerPoint presentations, interactive dashboards, social media posts, colorful charts and diagrams, and product videos.
They are bite-sized platforms that are fresh, professional-looking, and filled with graphics. Data is crunched and visualized, and information is easily absorbed and understood. Visual design simplifies and enhances communication.
Stand Out From The Crowd
There are 1.89 billion websites right now, although only around 200 million are active. While not all of these are your competitors, without doubt, you’re still looking at a substantial number to hurdle.
It is a crowded space for anyone’s niche. If you’re talking about inching up in the rankings, there are tested SEO and Web marketing techniques for that. However, it’s something of a long-term endeavor to achieve desired results.
What you can do right now is go the visual design route – redesign your website if you already have one, or start with a clean slate. Whichever your approach, do keep these in mind:
- Aim to have a balanced design.
- Use grids to help you come up with a clean and organized layout.
- Stick with corporate colors and, if you must, add just one or two complementary colors.
- Unify design elements; don’t let anything look like it’s out of place. Sure, you may be noticed but for the wrong reason.
- Use graphics and images to full effect by applying the design principles of hierarchy and emphasis.
The point is to grab the attention of anybody who happens to come across your website. A visitor may just take a glance – that is your opening. A well-designed website will rise above others and most likely get a second look.
Gain New Customers
When somebody says you have a “good website” don’t pop the champagne yet. It is subjective – others may like it while others may not.
From a business perspective, a good website is one that converts and design has a lot to do with it.
In a HubSpot survey, people were asked which element is most important for a business to include in its website. Below are the answers:
Meanwhile, Entrepreneur.com lists some other things people want to know from your website, such as:
- What is unique about your business?
- What does your company offer?
- Is your site easy to use and navigate?
- Does it have easy directions on processes?
- Is there a distinctive call to action?
Potential customers want to know if your company is legitimate, if your offerings are real, and where to reach you just in case.
Your web design will dictate where you will place all these important elements and components that visitors look for. Of course, always keep your site welcoming and user-friendly.
A carefully planned and methodically designed website makes it easy for visitors to convert and become paying customers.
Web visitors, whether they admit it or not, are impatient. Well, you and I included. Users do not actually read web pages; they just scan the content – images, headers, and graphics.
Once they find something interesting in those few seconds or milliseconds (as we’ve learned earlier), that’s the time they read. All the technology that enables you to put your live message and content on your website is complex. So don’t make that front end more complicated.
Visual design helps make your content simple, easy to digest, and user-friendly. It will also guide your layout and typography. Content is king, which is why it’s crucial that your web design supports it.
Here are some ways to optimize website content:
- Break down blocks of text into smaller pieces such as bullets or lists.
- Be generous with white spaces; they eliminate clutter and give the eye places to rest.
- Arrange content in such a way as to provide intuitive navigation.
- Apply spatial pathways to guide the eye to move along pieces of content.
- Focus visitors’ attention by highlighting important words or phrases.
Again credibility, consistency, and simplicity in coming out with good design and good content.
Presentations are narratives designed to tell your story in visual form. As the art of storytelling, presentations are there to inform, educate, inspire, persuade, instruct, and entertain.
Whether for pitches, meetings, webinars, conferences, or online classes, it is important that presentations provide a compelling narrative.
It was reported from a Venngage survey of 400 conference speakers that 84.3% of them create presentations that are highly visual. However, graphics and visuals are but components of the narrative structure.
Visuals do not make a poor story good. They are there to reinforce a narrative. So lay down a good story first with a central message. Different industries may have different approaches to crafting their narratives. Still there’s a basic structure that is followed:
- Beginning – the problem or “why.”
- Middle – options and solutions.
- End – expected results and comparison of existing situations then and now.
Others follow an essay or thesis outline such as having supporting points, summary, hypothesis, and conclusion. Whichever way you go, be sure to have a good story framework from which you’ll work on your design.
As far as your design goes, the most common medium for presentations are slides. When creating these, bear in mind the following:
- Limit each slide to a few keywords.
- Let pictures and graphics do the talking – more visuals, less text.
- Don’t clutter a slide with statistics; spread them out to different slides.
- Simplify concepts by using attractive icons and pleasing colors.
- Visualize data through charts and graphs.
- Choose the best photos that represent the message or idea.
- Apply design principles of balance, simplicity, and emphasis.
Unite The Workforce
Visual design or the broader visual communication can be used to unite and engage employees. It is important for employees that they are able to trust and feel proud of their organization.
A company culture that values professionalism, employee development, and transparency, among others, are more likely to have a committed and loyal workforce.
The same effort that you do to improve communication with external audiences can be applied internally in your organization. Take for example your well-designed website – it’s something that employees can all be proud of.
And they’d be prouder if you took time to get their feedback and applied their helpful suggestions to improve the website, both in looks and content.
It boils down to having a corporate visual design strategy. While the design department takes the lead, they don’t have the exclusive pool of ideas. For all you know, someone from HR or Finance might have some “Eureka” moments.
Here are some tips to become a visual organization:
- Encourage company-wide design collaboration and contribution
- Include visual training programs in company seminars or orientations.
- Employee handbooks and other internal materials should carry the feel and look of your brand.
- Use visual elements – images, graphics, icons, illustrations – in all your employee-directed media so they can easily be understood.
A design-centric company is able to unite the organization in achieving its goals and even improve its bottom line. As a matter of fact, a McKinsey report disclosed that companies which value design exceed industry average growth by 2 to 1.
Carry A Visual Mindset
We have been taught to carry a growth and entrepreneurial mindset when running a business. Now it’s time to have a visual attitude.
All that we’ve tackled in this post point to the paramount importance of visual design for your business especially in today’s highly competitive and digital environment. You’d be left behind if you don’t innovate and level-up your design.
This is why you need all the tools and strategies to get your business noticed and drive as many visitors to your website.
Exciting visual design coupled with absorbing content have been proven to be powerful attractions. Use them to your advantage.
About the author:
Jun Anover is senior content producer at Colorcinch. His background in art, design, and photography helps him craft informative articles and creative content pieces on these subjects.
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