At INC Tech we offer website design in Los Angeles and throughout the United States. On our websites, we try to follow a checklist of 10 web design standards… it turns out we aren’t the only ones. Orbit Media Studio studied 50 “top” marketing websites (they reiterate it was big ones, with lots of pages and lots of content, and lots of visitors and users**) to see how standard website ‘standards’ really are.
Website Design in Los Angeles: Standard Thresholds*:
- Standard: 80% or more of websites use the same design approach
- Convention: 50 – 79% of websites use the same design approach
- Confusion: 49% or fewer websites conform, no single design approach dominates
- Logo in the top left
100% of the websites researched had a clickable logo in the upper left corner of every page on the site. That’s a standard!
- Contact in top right
44% have the contact button or link in the top right corner of every page. Although this placement is very common and considered best practices, it cannot be considered standard. – At INC Tech we think this is very important, the less scrolling to find a contact phone number is a no brainer. Make it easy before someone clicks away from your site.
- Main Top Navigation
88% of the websites had the main navigation located in the header at the top of every page, making horizontal top-level navigation a web design standard. We have a couple of sites in our portfolio that have navigation along the right side or left side – but those seem to be somewhat outdated. Most likely this trends is because mobile responsive sites are out of the box setup for top navigation (and the anti-scroll sentiments of five years ago, scrolling is ok again, but top navigation is still top dog).
- Home page slideshow
32% of the websites have a home page slideshow (also known as a slider or carousel) with a rotating series of images and clickable messages (if it isn’t a clickable call to action with a link to important content our feeling is that this is a waste of space on the homepage – see #).
- Value proposition high up on the home page
80% of marketing websites have an explicit value proposition located high on the home page. So the majority of websites explain their value to visitors “above the fold.” Above the fold was the old fashioned concern of anti-scrolling, but in our opinion we are designing sites that have to be responsive on so many different sized devices that it is hard to have just one value statement strong enough to design your entire site around “above the fold” on the homepage.
As the Orbit Media article stated “Any web designer will tell you that there is no standard pixel height for browsers/devices/portrait/landscape. Therefore, there is no fold. But of course, some design elements appear high on pages and are generally visible to the majority of visitors without scrolling.”
- Call to Action high up on the home page
78% of the websites had visually prominent calls to action. The percentage fell below the threshold for standard, it’s certainly a convention.
- Search feature in the header
54% of websites have a search feature in the header. About half of all marketing sites do not have a search feature that appears “globally” on every page either as a link, icon or search box. It depends what your website is trying to accomplish. If you are selling products then a search feature (like Imagecraft Productions) is key. However, if you are a “brochure style site” with only a limited number of pages or posts then a search feature just takes up space, especially on a mobile menu.
Orbit Media even stated “A search tool is often a “crutch” for a poorly organized website.”
- Signup box in the footer
24% of websites allow visitors to sign up and subscribe to email or newsletter updates in the footer. It is usually a good practice to include CAPTCHA to prevent spam, but then it can get a little crowded for the actual signup box – may be in three years the pop-up will be back in style again!
The most common content for footers is copyright, privacy, legal, sitemap and contact links. Visitors expect to find contact information in the bottom right or bottom center of websites.
- Social media icons in the footer
72% of the websites include icons for social media websites in the footer. We wonder when Twitter will no longer be included in anyone’s footer and Instagram will take the lead – just kidding. Sort of.
26% of the websites included social media icons prominently in the header.
As in the footer, clicking any of these icons takes the visitor to the social media site. For this reason, this is a design element that can cost you traffic, increasing bounce rates and hurt results.
We recommend adding social media icons in the footer. To further reduce visual prominence, the full-color version can appear only after the visitor moves the mouse cursor over the icon.
68% of websites are mobile-friendly using responsive web design. 10 years ago “responsive” to mobile meant using code that would read the device size and load a completely different version of the website to non-desktop users. Today, a mobile responsive site is almost “required” (according to those shyster Search Engine Marketing people who claim that Google will severely “punish” a website for not being responsive. You can read more about our experience with the Google mobile responsive algorithm change, but it isn’t dramatic in most cases).
* from an earlier NN Group article.
** Note about the data, per Orbit Media Studio: The sites included in this research were big, famous brands. They have lots of pages and diverse businesses. Some design aspects of large sites (search tools, generic navigation labels) may not be relevant to smaller marketing websites. Sites included in their research were top marketing websites in the “business > marketing & advertising” category on Alexa. After excluding news, media and publication sites, which do not have conventional lead generation or eCommerce goals, Orbit Media Studio ended up with their top 50 marketing websites.