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10 Website

Designs Principles

in 2021

Ten Crucial Website Design Principles in 2021

You Might Be Missing Nine of Them

If you went to buy a car today and you found one that was absolutely stunning, but when you got to the dealer it was missing wheels, doors, an engine, and didn’t even have an entertainment system, you would probably think the car manufacturer had lost their marbles.


Yet, most small business websites today are almost exactly like that car. Hopefully they are at least visually compelling. Unfortunately, some can’t even pass that test since they were created by someone without almost no training or graphic art skills.


What else matters you might wonder? Here is the nutshell list of 10 crucial website design principles you must follow today.


1.  Clarity about the products or services offered

2.  Obvious ways to contact you

3.  Well written, original content about your company, product, services, etc

4.  An organization structure that makes the site easy to navigate

5.  A unique selling proposition that separates you from the competition

6.  A compelling CTA, call to action, that generates a lead or sale

7.  Search Engine Optimization so that your website can be found by prospects, including at least one pillar page

8. ADA rules followed so disabled individuals can comprehend your content

9. Fantastic graphic design to provide an emotional appeal

10. Backlinks from high-quality sites to provide Google with proof that your site is important

Just reading through that list probably brought you a lot of clarity. You know that when you visit a website you want those things. You only visit sites you find on the first page (3, 7, 10) of Google search. You will leave a page in about 3 seconds flat if you don’t see what you came to learn about (1, 2, 3, 4, 9). You get frustrated when you can’t find the offer or some way to move the ball forward when you are interested (1, 2, 4, 5).


You do want your website to be a beautiful brochure, but if you stop there, you will have missed the huge potential for your website to turn into a money-making machine. And by the way, it doesn’t cost that much more to get all 10 website design principles from above. We’ll provide detailed suggestions on how to do so.

1.  Clarity about the products or services offered - As with any marketing exercise, you want to start your website planning by answering the questions: “Why am I creating this website? What is my main goal? What other things do I want the website to do for me? What would I be willing to spend to get those goals met?

Some possible answers include:


a.  Prove to prospects that I’m a serious contender for their business with a quality environment and solid information that makes my business case

b.  Provide a place for prospects and customers to learn more, find basic information, and maybe even complete orders

c.  Get found by new prospects and move them through a sales funnel to a purchase or action decision

Now you are in a position to start considering how the top (above the first scroll) of the page should look. When someone comes to your page, they need to have a reason to scroll down or navigate to another page. If they don’t get that reason above the scroll, they will leave.


You will generally have a company name and logo, art (pictures, video, graphic) that tells your story. Next, you will have a headline that clarifies exactly what your customer should be wanting. The top of the page is also where most websites should have phone numbers, email, important social media links, maybe an address, maybe hours of operation. You will almost always want some bullets to give more quick info about your headline. Then you will start with some text that keeps the visitor’s interest. A great website will have at least one call to action above the scroll line. Possibly a button that offers something free, an appointment, or an application.


In addition to the above, you’ll need a navigation system, so it is easy for your visitor to find other information around your site. Traditional menus across the top are still absolutely fine. Today, with or without that menu, you should have a hamburger (three little horizontal lines) that provides a complete menu.


Below the scroll line, you can begin to provide your brochure with pictures and content about your products and services, testimonials, more options to connect, and for most companies in the services business, a contact form.


This probably seems like a lot, but it isn’t that hard to create. Now you have all the pieces. You can do it or if you hire a good designer/developer, you can instruct them that you want these things. They won’t know about most of these concepts. If they do, you have selected well.

2.   Obvious ways to contact you – We covered this quite a bit above, but it is so important that some of it should be spelled out again. Many website templates today provide the contact information at the bottom of the page on all pages. A contact us menu item takes the visitor to the bottom of the page. The hamburger menu does the same. For many companies, you should also have some contact info at the very top right. Phone number, email, something.

3.   Well-written, useful, original content about your company, product, services, etc. - For over 20 years Google has been repeating their most critical request. They want you to tell your story professionally. That means well written. It means original. And it means useful. Most graphic designers who do websites don’t have a writer on staff. Maybe you have a writer on staff or in your family. You need someone who can write well.


If not, you can hire a copywriter. You can hire someone in-country for $30 - $100 an hour depending on their skill and the difficulty of the content. You can hire writers on and other similar sites for far less. If you have a decent writer in your midst, you can do the basic copy, the hire an editor to help make it more interesting and compelling.


Don’t be afraid to borrow. Go to competitors’ websites that are not in your area (assuming your business is a local business), and find the good stuff, rewrite, or have a copywriter rewrite so that it is not identifiable as their copy.


Use supplier copy. They won’t mind at all. But even here, change it up.


Google rewards text. The more the better. Articles over 1700 words are called pillar posts. We’ll talk more about those later in the SEO section. You need at least one pillar post.

4.   An organization structure that makes the site easy to navigate – You’ve undoubtedly been on pages called landing pages or sales funnels. They are designed to take you from a prospect to a purchase or other action. That’s what you want your home page to do. It needs to feel easy to navigate. Don’t use the home page to do your 1700 word pillar page. Lots of headlines, sub headlines, bullets, and short sentences and paragraphs. Add pictures, info graphs, and other ways to break up the page.


Then use links on your home page text that take the visitor to more depth of information on inside pages.


If you fear that the visitor will miss something really important, try a pop up that gives them directions to the inside page you want them to see.

5.   A unique selling proposition that separates you from the competition – Your website designer would hopefully ask you for this. You might not have actually figured this out in the past. You can exist in business without having a USP or knowing what it is, but I’d highly recommend you think this through. Are you:


  • Best in class and provably so

  • Lowest price

  • Secret sauce, patent, other intellectual property protection

  • Major brand with protected territory

  • Amazing customer service

  • Unique niche with no competition


How can you use your USP at the top of the page to tell your story?


6.  A compelling CTA, call to action, that generates a lead or sale


Sometimes all you need do is to ask for the business, but some websites don’t even do that. More often you might want to entice the visitor with a “lead magnate.” This could be a serious low-price offer, a free gift, a sample, a test drive, first month free, etc. But you want to tie your CTA to collecting contact information or having the visitor make contact in order to get the gift.


As noted above, creating a form on the home page will often be a simple CTA that doesn’t require a free gift to result in a contact. Bankruptcy attorneys, mortgage Loan Officers, and others with great traffic and a big consumer need will often see lots of contact forms filled out.

7.   Search Engine Optimization so that your website can be found by prospects, including at least one pillar page – You and your website designer have followed every recommendation above, but without number 7, you are not going to get found by your prospective buyers. Good SEO is an art and a science. There are also a lot of folks calling themselves SEO experts who are not. Here is a list of the specific things that will help you get found. You can learn to do these things or you can hire it done. Most website designers are not SEO experts, but if you give them this list, they can at least tell you what they know and don’t know.

  • Determine your keywords and phrases. What will your customers use to search for your stuff or services on Google? Today that means phrases, sometimes long phrases, not just one or two words. Bike shop is still an important key word, but Trek full suspension mountain bike is what folks are probably searching for.

  • You want the least competitive keywords that have the most monthly searches. This is a balancing game. Too competitive, you can’t make the top of the page. Not competitive, maybe no one is searching. There are search word computers all over the internet where you can try to figure out the best keywords

  • When you do a search, you’ll always see a Google headline for that search. It might look like Peabody Criminal Law Firm Riverside | DUI |Felonies | White collar. This is called the title. You get to determine your title. And you want your keywords to appear there.

Any of the top website development platforms (Wix, GoDaddy) will provide you with a place to create your titles.

  • Under the title on a Google search is the description. The description doesn’t have much, maybe no, SEO benefit, but it is the place you convince the searcher to go to your site or page. It is for selling. Tell the searcher what you can do for them. Make it all about them.

  • You need to do the titles and descriptions for each page of your website. They need to be different. If you still have space and no more good words, put your phone number.

  • Next is headlines. Your development platform will usually suggest these headlines. They are known in code as <h1>, <h2> and so on. Google wants you to tell them what is most important on the page through you marking these. Your headlines on the page should be keyword rich. The most important one is and <h1>. Sub-headlines are <h2>. It is critical to have at least one and preferably only a single <h1> on each page. You can have several <h2>s and <h3>s. The more you have the less important they become. The larger the word count, the more you are likely to want in order to guide Google.

  • Your written content should be keyword rich, but not over-stuffed. Write naturally about your goods and services, then come back and add a few key phrases in place of phrases that might have been less likely to attract search.

  • As noted above, use hyperlinks for some of these key phrases. Link them to internal pages where it makes sense.

  • All pictures should have a clear description of what they depict in the code. Your website platform will prompt you for this. It is also important for ADA purposes. See #8.

8.   ADA rules followed so disabled individuals can comprehend your content – The lawyers are coming after you, and it could cost you many thousands of dollars. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a wonderful piece of legislation. It says that disabled American should be able to access your business like everyone else…within the bounds of reason.


Unfortunately, this act has created a vulture class of lawyers who prey on small businesses who don’t have a ramp at the front door or proper help in a public restroom. These lawyers are now going after websites that are not accessible to folks who have difficulty seeing or hearing well, among others. You can check to see if your website meets ADA requirements here.

9.   Fantastic graphic design to provide an emotional appeal – How did this get all the way down to #9. I suppose because it is the easiest to do. Unfortunately, it is also easy to mess it up. There are huge numbers of folks on Fiverr who have 5 stars for their work on hundreds or thousands of websites. But just because it is pretty, doesn’t mean it is emotionally striking the right chords. Work with your provider to make sure this is top of mind.

10.   Backlinks from high quality sites provide Google with proof that your site is important – Backlinks should happen naturally as other folks who have related websites discover you and talk about you. Unfortunately, you may be a lot older and grayer before you get enough decent backlinks to make a difference.


You can buy backlinks on Fiverr. This might be a good idea, but you must tread carefully. The wrong approach could be detrimental rather than helpful.


You can hire an SEO expert to go do the hard work of getting really good backlinks. This might be as expensive as the rest of the website development.


You can read articles that will help you do the hard work yourself, or you can have an employee or VA do this work for you (much better.)

Hopefully this is helpful. I do recommend a company who can do everything above. It is the only company other than my own consulting company who I’ve ever come in contact with that can do all of these things, or even understands the value. (I don’t do backlinks).

Since the company is in Serbia, the cost is very reasonable.

You can contact Antonie at

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