We recently paired up with HubSpot, a marketing software company, to address a question that small business owners and graphic designers frequently ask: what makes for a good website?

Our free ebook, “Does Your Website Need a Redesign?”, is geared toward business owners but has plenty of valuable information for designers who are looking to hone their web design skills.

99designs ebook

It’s true that a website’s success ultimately depends on factors that are beyond a designer’s scope, like having good keyword placement, which helps potential customers find the site to begin with using search engines.

But once you get visitors to your site, how do you keep them there and get them to do what you want them to do — like subscribe or buy things? That is where good design comes in.

99designs website redesign

To explain the tenets of good web design, 99designs’ visual designer, Matt Basham, looks to our own website redesign, which he helped to execute last year. Here, in brief, are a few concrete things he and the design team focused on:

1. Allocating space

allocating space

Not all text on a web page is created equal. Calls to action (“sign up!” “launch a contest!”) are really the crux of a site: they tell your visitor to do what you want them to do. So we made sure to put our “get started now” button in a central location and surround it with plenty of negative space. You can’t miss it.

2. Organizing fonts

organizing fonts

Typeface itself is extremely important, as it must communicate the brand’s values. Our values are “creative, simple and fun,” so our team chose the distinctive yet accessible typeface Gesta. From there, however, you must set forth a hierarchy of type sizes, with the largest reserved for the most important text and vice versa. Other aspects of typography such as capitalization can carry meaning, too. You’ll notice that on 99designs, ALL CAPS signifies that something is a link.

3. Assigning meaning to color

assigning meaning to color

Color is also of massive psychological importance to viewers. We like our orange, because it’s cheerful and connotes creativity, so we wanted to put it to further use. So he placed a huge orange banner front and center, behind the call to action, to subliminally tell visitors “this color is important.” Whenever the color comes up again, like in the visual instructions illustrating how the site works, the viewer subconsciously knows to pay close attention.

4. Maintaining unity, not monotony

maintaining unity, not monotony

It goes without saying that a website should feel unified as a whole. This is especially true for the images included on a website, like photographs or, in our case, sample images of the awesome work created on our site. These should feel cohesive rather than rag-tag, without feeling so similar as to seem redundant.

5. Focusing on interactivity

focusing on interactivity

As our design team created the site, they were continuously thinking about how visitors would actually use it. Keep interactivity in mind with every button, drop-down menu or other functional/wayfinding component.

6. Making it responsive

making it responsive

Joanna Krenz-Kurowska discusses responsive design and the above graphic here

In this day and age, if your website can’t adapt to screens of various sizes — like phones and tablets — then you can prepare to bite the dust. 99designs’ major landing pages are all responsive, and the rest of the site is designed to become so as we continue to optimize the site.

We encourage you to check out our ebook for yourself to read about our website redesign in greater detail.

You’ll also find plenty of illuminating marketing-related information from HubSpot, as well as answers to persistent questions, like what distinguishes a website “refresh” from a full on redesign. Happy reading!