42 Ways to Create an Attention-Grabbing Website

website design ideas

There was a time when having a website was a luxury that many businesses couldn’t afford.

Because there were less sites on the Internet at that time, the companies that did make the investment in a website saw decent results – especially as people’s curiosity led them to check out this funky, new-fangled thing called the Internet.

Fast-forward to 2015.

Today, everyone can afford a website. There are even companies that let you build your own site for free.

And with advances in technology, it’s easier than ever to build your own website with very little knowledge of even the basics of HTML.

That means the Internet is over saturated with websites.

According to Wikipedia, as of September 2014, there were 1 BILLION websites on the Internet. Billion. With a “B.”.

So basically, putting up a website for your business today is like trying to get someone to notice one drop of water in the middle of the ocean.

A challenging task, but not impossible.

With such a huge number of websites online these days, the trick to getting the most results out of yours is to make it irresistible.

You need to make your site impossible to ignore.

Below is a list of 42 things you can do to improve your site, make it irresistible to your audience, and keep track of it’s performance so you can make it even better.

Ready? Here we go.

1. Choose the right platform for your website. Each content management platform (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, BigCommerce, Tumblr, etc) has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Pick the one that gives you the most mileage over the life of your business.

2. Pay attention to the focal point on each page of your site. The focal point is the “high gravity” spot on your page that immediately draws the attention of your eyes when you look at the page. Use these to your advantage by making the critical “money-making” items on your site focal points.

3. Add value to your site with resource-level content that people will want to bookmark and link to. Read “Content Marketing 101” from Copyblogger for tips on how to do this.

4. Does the color scheme of your site scare away your audience? Check out ColorMatters.com for information on the messages that different colors send, and how the brain reacts to them.

5. Speed matters. Make sure your site loads quickly so you don’t lose visitors, lose sales, or get penalized by Google. Willie Jackson has a great post about this on the DIYthemes blog.

6. Make sure the design you select for your site resonates with your target customer. For example, if your audience is people who love camping outdoors, a soft, fluffy, pastel design wouldn’t connect with them as well as one that used lots of earth tones and nature photos.

7. Don’t use hidden navigation links. For example, if your home page is a large photo of a winery and each wine barrel in the photo lights up as a link to another page when you mouse over it, you’ll kill the effectiveness of your site. YOU might know the wine barrels are links, but your customers won’t. Make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for.

8. Want to know what people are clicking on within your website? Check out CrazyEgg.com. They offer a service that allows you to track which elements of your site are clicked the most so you can keep track of what your customers like.

9. Need help coming up with attractive color combinations? Check out Adobe’s Color CC tool or the Color Index books by Jim Krause.

10. Avoid Flash altogether by using HTML5 or JQuery effect scripts that run as javascript instead.

11. Try to use design elements that add depth to the look of your site. Websites that look flat and 2-dimensional are common. Create a site that looks like it’s got depth and that “3D” look and you’ll catch people’s attention.

12. Have audio or video to put on your site? Set it up so the person browsing your site has the choice to play it or not. Don’t set them to start playing automatically – it annoys people.

13. Sometimes small design details can really make a website “pop.” Things like a thin highlighted edge effect, or dashed line that looks like stitching can add an intriguing flair to your overall design.

14. Make it easy for your audience to tell their friends about your site. Include buttons that allow them to share your site via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

15. Sometimes just the “hint” of a texture can add some zing to a boring background color.

16. Use design elements to divide your content into easy to browse groups. You can use things like thin white lines, drop shadows, bars of a complimentary color, textures, or other such design effects to create the look you want.

17. Study the top websites in your industry. Spend time picking them apart visually and analyzing what works and what doesn’t. Have they done something you haven’t tried? Have they missed an opportunity that you could capitalize on?

18. Services like TypeKit and Google Fonts let you use more attractive, design-friendly fonts on your website to jazz up the look of your website’s text.

19. If you want a site that looks clean and professional, limit the number of colors you use in the design to no more than 4 that work well together. Too many colors in one site makes your website look like a patchwork quilt.

20. Use your most important keywords in your site’s URLs (page addresses), header tags, and page titles for better SEO results.

21. Include a meta tag description on each page of your site, preferably that includes important keywords for that page.

22. If you’re a builder, architect, or landscaper include a portfolio on your site with samples of your past work. Having a website without one is pointless.

23. If you have a service-based business, create predefined packages that let people buy your services right on your website without having to request a quote.

24. Add a “live chat” feature to your site so your prospective customers can get their questions answered while browsing your site. There are services that provide this feature so it will show live help as online when you’re logged in, and offline when it’s outside of your business hours.

25. Make sure that the home page of your site communicates the following information at a glance: what you do, what you sell, where to find it, and how to connect with you on social media.

26. Remember that when people come to your site from a search engine, they may not land on your home page first, but on one of the sub-pages of your site (like “about us” or “services” for example). Make sure those pages are as attention-grabbing as your home page, and not just an after-thought.

27. Be informal and friendly with the copywriting on your site. Stiff, formal sentences makes you sound distant, cold, and aloof.

28. Is there a way you could incorporate some videos of you on your site doing what you do for a living? You can easily create these videos yourself. Check out Les Stroud’s (aka Survivorman) video blog for an example of how you can turn filming yourself into an art form.

29. Does your site have tools or calculators on it? Why not turn them into a mobile app to drive more customers to your site, and provide a useful tool to your existing customers.

30. If you’re a business, put your phone number and contact info on every page of your site to make it easier for people to hire you.

31. Well placed icons can enhance the meaning behind different elements on your website by making them easy to identify visually.

32. Design your website to be responsive. This optimizes the layout of your site to look good on all screens: computers, tablets, and smart phones. And more than that, as of April 21, 2015 Google started penalizing the search engine rankings for websites that are not mobile-friendly.

33. Your brand should saturate everything you do. Make sure the style of your website matches the style of the rest of your marketing.

34. Be remarkable! Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and be real with your customers. Let them see your triumphs and your struggles and they’ll feel more connected to you.

35. Don’t be square. One cool way to add visual interest to your site is have parts of the design hang over the edge of the page. Doing that breaks up the harsh, straight lines of your page edges and makes the whole design more appealing.

36. Photos are an easy way to add depth and dimension to your website design. You can find professional quality photos very inexpensively at places like iStockPhoto and Shutterstock, and more.

37. Make sure there is enough contrast between the colors you choose for your site. For example, putting yellow text on a white background will make the text unreadable. A good rule of thumb for beginners is to use the law of opposites. If you use a light color for the background, use a dark color for the text.

38. Does what you sell lend itself to a theme design that would usually be used by a totally different industry? For example, I’ve designed a website for a company that sells tropical wines, and I built them a design that looks more like something you’d see for a caribbean resort. This is a great way to stand out from your competition.

39. In the end, people don’t care about you or your business, they care about what you can do for them. How you can help them. How you can make their life easier. I know that sounds cold and cynical. But if you use that “mantra” as a way to motivate yourself to provide real value to your customers, you’ll be able to build a strong following in no time and keep people coming back for more.

40. A highlighted edge around your main headline text can make the type look like it’s etched or engraved into the background.

41. Clean, “minimalist” design is all the rage right now. But be careful about jumping on a design “bandwagon” just because everyone is doing it. Some designs, like clothing fads, come and go (remember when purple and teal were the “in” colors?).

42. Laura Roeder has several good ideas about how to draw more attention to yourself and your business. One of those ideas is to create a “demo reel” for your business that shows off what you do and answers some of the most common questions people ask you.

So there you go! 42 different things you can do to help your site stand out and get more attention.

About Edward

Edward is the Owner & Creative Director of Bear River Art Studio, and an international award-winning artist. He also happens to be in love with Northern Michigan. Maybe that's because he spent his summers up here as a kid. Or maybe he's just nuts about being surrounded by the natural beauty of Northern Michigan. And when Edward isn't in the office creating impactful marketing for our clients, you'll usually find him running all over Northern Michigan with his camera in hand, taking pictures of his favorite place on earth.