Website Design

How Great UI and UX Design Can Help Your Website Generate Leads

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Functionality, on the other hand, does not. Your website needs to both work well and look good in order to stand out and make a lasting impression. While all of this sounds quite simple in theory, we can assure you that it’s easier said than done. Ideally, you should lean on partners who are able to guide you through the thick and thin of user-centricity. And there’s nothing that helps more with this than user experience (UX) mindfulness when venturing into web design.

Decades of combined experience designing and building websites have taught us that, while brand awareness is important and constantly pops up as a nice-to-have performance indicator, lead generation and conversion are the endgame. If you’re like most of our clients, you want visitors to take a specific action when they browse your website: buy your product, sign up for your newsletter, or simply express interest in your business. If done properly, your web design can nudge them in the right direction and significantly increase your lead generation and conversion metrics. That means more positive vibes to your bottom line!

As a business owner, you need to know what to ask of your partners and what’s in the best interest of your company. This article will help you figure out what you should pay attention to when designing your website. Coupling this know-how with the expertise of a UI/UX design team that’s worth its salt will lead to a beautiful, user-centric website that does exactly what it’s supposed to.

Why Web Design Matters For Your Business

First things first. Why is web design so important? What difference do aesthetics make, other than framing the copy? Is it simply a matter of added pizzazz, or can design be strategic in and of itself?

While we do agree that content is super important (we’ll cover this in a separate post), you need to understand one shady aspect of user behavior: visitors won’t read much when they land on your website. They will scan it for information, and whether or not they take a proper look at the text depends on the design’s ability to lure them in and keep them interested.

User Interface (UI) elements such as visual hierarchy, typography, and negative space all play a role in keeping website visitors engaged. But that’s not enough. In order for the UI to work as it should, it needs to be based on a thought through architecture, and that’s a matter of UX. Together, UI and UX design work against your website visitor’s eight-second attention span to try to keep them present, so that they can read your copy and (hopefully) buy your product.

Let’s take a look at what sets UI apart from UX, so that you can properly differentiate between the two and pace your design asks accordingly.

Know the Difference: UI and UX Design

Most people tend to mix UI and UX up. We’ve even seen designers do it! And on some level, it makes sense. Even unknowingly, most web designers use design thinking and UX techniques when working through client requirements. Nonetheless, as a business owner, it’s best to be intentional about the process so that you can understand what’s what and make informed decisions about project development. As a bonus, you’ll win the heart of your design team, and who doesn’t want that?

Good UI is when a visitor lands on your website and their first thought is how great it looks. Good UX is when they can clearly see what to do next.

Dave Wilkinson, Digital Strategist @ Proof

UX Design: What It Is and What It Can Do For Your Website

UX design is defined as encompassing all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with a company, its services, and its products (Don Norman, Cognitive Scientist & User Experience Architect). The ultimate goal of UX design is to anticipate and improve your visitor’s experience with your website and help them solve a specific problem (i.e., find the information they are, knowingly or not, looking for). UX design is iterative, meaning that the design process is based on a predefined cycle of research, prototyping, and usability testing.

As opposed to a UI designer, who may base the majority of their decisions on client needs and requirements, a UX designer will base their work on research. This involves generating user flows (how a website visitor gets from point A to point B) specific to user personas and establishing an information hierarchy that relates to these expected behaviors.

After research comes prototyping. This usually involves putting together the website wireframe, which basically acts like a skeleton for the UI – it includes text blocks, visuals, Calls-To-Action (CTAs), and the sorts – and is used to provide a visual representation of the desired user flows.

Usability testing aims to ensure that user flows hit the mark and create the right fit between visitor and website. The web developer is usually brought in at this point – their expertise allows them to spot potential functionality problems before the wireframes turn into full-blown design mockups.

Ultimately, UX design focuses on feeling: will the experience be memorable? Can the visitor easily solve their problem? Are they more likely to engage with your content, or will they bounce away into cyberspace, never to be heard of again?

Good UI designers are familiar with UX techniques and work them into their process. At Proof, we took it one step further and ensured that all our strategists, developers, and designers are versed in UX best practices – and we’re proud to say it shows!

The Proof Branding UX process
A snapshot of the process we use to design and develop websites at Proof.

While the process of putting together the UX architecture is pretty straightforward, it usually involves plenty of tweaks and iterations – the needs of your visitors are constantly changing, and your UX has to be able to keep up.

Once your architecture reaches a good spot, the design team can start working on the visuals that will turn your website into the apple of your eye and the heart of your lead generation strategy.

UI Design: Creating an Immersive Brand Experience

Now, UI design is all about giving your brand the chance to shine. With the right UX flow in place, web designers can bring your website to life through an enjoyable, interactive user interface.

Colors, visuals, and typography blend together to create an immersive brand experience. If UX design ensures that your website visitors have a clear path to their objective, UI designers help them cross the finish line and enter lead generation territory. Aesthetics play a big role here – a brilliant website wireframe can be made useless by a clunky, overburdened layout. This is also where client preferences come into play – it’s important that designers factor them in and strike the right balance between creative vision and business requirements.

 Proof Branding UI Design Henrie House

Henrie House is a beautifully restored rental property in Nashville. I’ve never been there, but the moment the website designs landed in my inbox, I knew exactly how it would feel to spend a night there. This isn’t your typical commercial property development website, and you can see that our designers spent time intentionally matching the website typography, imagery, and color palette to the real-world feel of Henrie House.

Mihai Olaru, Web Developer @ Proof

UX and UI Design Best Practices for Lead Generation Websites

Now that we covered the basic differences between UI and UX design, it’s time to look at some of the principles that help websites send visitors down the sales funnel.

Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is important in more ways than one, as there’s a very subtle trap here that may creep up on you when you least expect it. Due to proximity to your target audience, you may be tempted to think that you know just what they want. You may think that a certain type of website layout may work better than others because it simply makes more sense – to you – that information be displayed in a certain way.

Simply put, you make assumptions about your audience, and while you may get it right 8 times out of 10, it’s better to not base UI/UX design decisions on hunches – unless you have a tried-and-true sixth sense, in which case that’s ok, and your design team will just have to go with it.

In all other instances, you will need to trust your designer to know best and allow them to use existing website data to guide design decisions and usability testing. This is in the best interest of your project, as it will help conversion rate optimization (CRO) and lead generation in the long run.

Proof Branding Five Points Pizza UI Design

Use Real Content

Content is – and forever will be – king. There’s only so much that good design can do in terms of lead generation – the rest is up to the quality of your copy. Historically, design work has been based on dummy text – you know, lorem ipsum dolor sit amet? While this practice saved time and allowed creative teams to work on multiple fronts, it left little room for seamlessness. Good UX is reliant on the congruence between messaging and aesthetics – the more room these two elements have to harmonize, the better the overall feel of the website.

A good way to ensure that your messaging is used appropriately is to prepare your content outline prior to moving into design. This will give designers a chance to acquaint themselves with your brand’s value proposition, and highlighting the most impactful text excerpts through headings, cards, and iconography.

Strive For Simplicity

Less is more when it comes to UI design. In today’s oversaturated digital landscape, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to silence the noise. As a result, websites that manage to emanate some sort of quiet are the ones that make a lasting impression. Enter functional minimalism.

Minimalism is an art movement centered around the idea of open space. The main objective of a minimalist website is to highlight the essential while employing an elegant and functional stillness for secondary features. Minimalist websites strategically use negative space, flat textures, impactful typography, and eye-catching illustrations to create an entrancing user experience.

Modern website visitors gravitate towards clean and crisp design – think of digital Zen gardens, but with CTAs. And the more time they spend finding their Zen on your landing pages, the closer they get to acquisition!

Minimalist UI Design for Nations Dental Studio

Working minimalism into your web design can seem tricky at first. There’s a constant balancing act between overwhelming a very simple UI and under-delivering content to website visitors. Hitting the sweet spot, however, makes it all worth it. For example, when we worked with Nations Dental Studio, a general and cosmetic dental practice based in Nashville, our goal was to reassure customers that they were in safe hands and take the pain out of booking a dental appointment. Nothing else was as important, so we were able to pare back the design to its bare essentials. We created a clean, incredibly easy to navigate interface that instilled feelings of calm and safety while still maintaining a highly professional appearance.

Design for Accessibility

Ensuring that disabled visitors can safely and pleasantly navigate your website is not only one of the most useful things you can do to improve UX, but also a legal requirement. You can be sued if your website does not meet accessibility standards. Don’t believe us? 2019 alone saw over 11,000 accessibility lawsuits in the U.S.

From a design standpoint, the greatest tool in your arsenal is contrast – readability is improved by sharp copy and powerful contrast. Color doesn’t have to be everything – some of the most engaging designs play on neutrals.

You should also make sure that all major navigation and form elements are accessible with a keyboard, and that your website includes information that can assist screen readers. For a full list of accessibility requirements, you can learn more about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Or you can ask Dave, our Digital Strategist. He’ll tell you what’s up.

Tame Your Creativity

While you want your website to stand out, you don’t want to stray too far away from the familiar, particularly in terms of UX. Your visitors expect a certain level of predictability. For example, menus should be visible whenever possible, and scrolling should ideally be vertical instead of horizontal. Flashy pop-ups are usually a no-no. Being too innovative with your UX may confuse website visitors who, if they’re being honest, aren’t too big on change.

This is one of the reasons we always prioritize CRO and lead generation – it allows our design team to be innovative and creative while staying within the bounds of a user-centric, recognizable architecture.

Final Thoughts

While UX and UI design are just two pieces of the puzzle, they sure make conversion a hell of a lot easier. And while there’s more work to be done before setting up the ultimate lead generation website, understanding the importance of good web design will help you market a feeling as well as a service. Don’t forget: customers don’t just buy a product, they identify with a brand experience. It’s up to you to give that to them.

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