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With competition growing among businesses across all sectors, it’s more important than ever for brands to retain their customer base. But as we venture deeper into the digital age, a website’s design can make all the difference as to whether a prospective customer converts into a buyer or not. A high conversion rate is what ultimately drives long-term growth in a business and, if your website isn’t converting, you need to invest in UX and UI development to drive positive change. In this article, Mark Franks, Head of User Interface and Experience at names.co.uk reveals the key trends to prioritise in 2021 website design to improve brand reputability and achieve higher conversation rates.

A renewed look at website usability

A business’s website is often the first impression a prospective customer will have of a company. The average web user decides if your site is the best source of information for them in the first 8 seconds of landing. So, if your website is awkward to manoeuvre, or users can’t easily find the information they’re searching for, this could impact their opinion of your brand before you have the chance to sell yourself.

You can avoid making this mistake by placing UX and UI at the forefront of your website design. Ensuring page navigation is simple with clear header bars and categories, checking calls-to-action are clear and removing clutter like images and advertisements to boost web page loading speeds. By guaranteeing these basics in the first instance, visitors using the easy-to-use interface will inevitably have a hassle-free experience that encourages them to stay on your site for longer.

Personalised webpages

With competition for online customers hitting all-time highs – and expectations of exceptional service also increasing – a personal approach is needed to retain customer loyalty. By implementing hyper-personalisation, you can really grab the attention of customers and fight off the competition by providing a unique experience that satisfies consumer expectations.

A classic example of a website that thrives off hyper-personalisation is Netflix. On the popular streaming service, recommendations are made based on a customer’s personal search history, rating, viewing data and the date and time, to watch TV shows and films that are deemed best matched to the viewer. Historically, the homepage of a website has always been the first port of call when a potential customer first lands on a site, but this is no longer the case. Meanwhile, most businesses still use one version of their homepage that caters to all that visit. But what if the homepage could be personalised to the user?

Having an overly cluttered home page can make content more difficult to find. Consider including chat boxes to speed up the process of getting information from a consumer and personalised calls-to-action using profile data. Tailoring content, personalising recommendations and even welcoming back returning users can all increase engagement, improve the quality of leads and ultimately drive conversion. 

Mobile optimisation

With most searches worldwide now being made from mobile phones, it is vital for website designers to optimise their websites for mobile to satisfy a wide range of users. While voice-based assistance is nothing new, advances in AI technology will see a new generation of voice assistants emerge. We can expect the next generation of digital voices to become more lifelike in tone and delivery, more sophisticated with touchless interactions, and increased personalisation that analyses user mood and intention.

Additionally, cross-app optimisation is becoming increasingly popular as more people turn to apps over native websites. Integrating multiple apps into one smooth interface vastly improves the user experience. We also expect cross-platform development to improve design consistency with reduced effort.

Trust and social proof

Consumers are becoming more switched on to businesses that project misleading information. If key contact and business information are unclear, this will often create instant distrust and turn away potential customers. Make clarity the forefront of your website design, prioritising these areas to easily project trustworthy brand values. Transparency in ethical and environmental information is also of growing importance for consumers, so it needs to be reflected in company actions. 

Young consumers are actively looking at a company’s ethical promises before making an informed decision – showing that consumers are becoming hyper-aware of who they give their money to. This type of information shouldn’t be shoehorned into a homepage. Make sure you highlight this information by creating a clearly labelled section on your header bar and ridding your information page of unnecessary images and text.

A shifting style

To make their company website stand out, many are taking inspiration from the past. The simplicity of brutalist interfaces has been making a comeback, on top of a move towards barebones, neomorphic professionalism. A return of brutalism is also inspired by simplicity. Known for its bold contrasting font types and eye-popping animations, the brutalist style reminiscent of 90s punk zines, on a practical level, remain fairly minimalistic and often with barebones user interfaces that are easy to manoeuvre. 

Although it’s unlikely we’ll see a fully-fledged return of the style, website owners will be wise to adopt the short and sweet approach as users become progressively disgruntled at pop-ups, overbearing images and advertisements. Neumorphism is a popular choice for designs because of its sleek, professional finish while maintaining clarity for its users. Using a minimalist approach, the neuromorphic design adds realism to an interface by recessing or protruding logos, images and buttons through shading, providing it with depth. Designing a website that balances form and function is the key to unlocking a website’s potential. Not only will you benefit from a boost in brand recognisability and trustworthiness, but a crisp layout will help users get to where they need to go.

By Mark Franks

Mark Franks is Head of User Interface & Experience for names.co.uk. With more than 13 years at names.co.uk and over 20 years of experience in the industry, Mark’s area of expertise lies firmly within creating, refining, and maintaining the excellent user experience for which names.co.uk is known.

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