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I am Stefani Lefler, the owner and designer behind Stefani Jessica: a Michigan based design studio that serves business owners worldwide. Through design, strategy, and content creation, I create a confident branded voice that speaks to your audience.
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Website Design Hacks: 5 Simple Ways to Elevate Your Web Design That Designers Use Too

Oct 2, 2017

Brand Reveals, Website Design

When you’re first starting out, a DIY brand is sometimes necessary when you don’t have a lot of money. While hiring a designer is important in your journey, it’s good to be prepared on what you’ll need to invest beforehand. One of the most important aspects of your new business will be your website. It’s the homebase of your business and the website design will either make you look professional or inexperienced.

Surprisingly, small details that are quick and simple to add will make your website look well designed and designers (myself included) add these elements to our own clients’ sites. Educating yourself to make your DIY brand stand out for all the right reasons will start your business off on the right foot.

Keep Your Navigation Simple

Naming your pages unique words or phrases can seem like you’re helping yourself stand out. User experience is an important and often overlooked aspect of a website design. An easy way to think of user experience is this: when a viewer lands on your site or begins to use it, will any element make them confused or lost? You want to make sure that someone looks at your navigation and knows exactly where they are going. ‘About’, for instance, is instantly recognizable. ‘The 411’ could mean a lot of different things. You don’t want a viewer to have the choice of either clicking the link to figure out what the page is about or choosing not to bother.

With Janae’s site, I loved her unique style. You don’t see bold, rich colors as much in wedding photography and I wanted her website to showcase her modern touch. The navigation is set up in a modern layout, but the linked words are simple and easy to understand.

Blocks of Text Are Equal

Websites have a lot of content. It is best to break it up somehow because small text can be hard to read. So that the content isn’t spanning too wide, columns are a good way to shorten the length of each line. Making sure the lines are even on each side looks professional and clean without having to do a ton of work. You may need to tweak your wording, line height, or width a bit until it looks just right, but it makes all the difference.

With her light, bright style, I wanted Nilo’s site to feel airy and open. Keeping her content in grids and cleanly lined up made the website design look neat and tidy. In the example above, her services are lined up and even which makes her page look organized.

Give Your Work Room to Breathe

A common mistake made by non-designers when setting up their website is a lack of white space. White space is exactly what it sounds like and that room to breathe makes sure your words and images are center stage. When a website design gets too cluttered, people don’t know where to look and where to go next. Leaving adequate space around your content keeps the eye focused on what you want viewers to see.

Becky is not only a photographer, but a logo designer. We didn’t want her website to become too cluttered. When you land on her site, it is open and her work pops out at you. Then I gave the audience 3 choices of where they could go, based on her goals for the website itself. That way, people get to know her and her work before anything else.

Restrain Your Content

Just like matching up blocks of text so that the lines are even, keeping all of the elements in your site within a width of pixels gives order and visual simplicity to even a complex design. I customized my Showit theme, A Day in April, for Lauren’s florist site and although there are so many grids in each section, the width of all the content stays the same. It keeps her website looking clean. Even if you have a full width banner, slideshow, or background, simply make sure the content on that element stays within the space you’ve designated in all the other sections.

Break Up Content with Shapes and Colors

While you want a lot of white space, that space doesn’t need to always be white (or minimal)! A great way to infuse your brand colors is to use them as backgrounds or in graphic elements to break up the text on your site. Websites require a ton of information and making sure you keep it interesting and easy to read will keep a viewer on your site longer.

Ina’s work is so beautiful and on her website, I wanted to keep things classic. Her work is front and center while still peaking interest using lines, circles, photo and colored backgrounds, and sections you can click through. One page websites especially benefit from elements breaking up content so it’s not just one long block of white with occasional information.

Bonus Tip

Whether you hire a designer or not, poor quality photography can break a beautiful design. If you’re brand new with no funding, free photos work well! Check out Unsplash for varied work from lots of photographers. For beautiful flat lays and professional settings, try the SC Stockshop! Shay has a clean style that enhances your brand no matter the colors or feeling. She also has some beautiful new shoots available now!

These 5 tips are easy and quick to implement and make such a huge difference. I’d love to see your website! Leave me a comment with a link to your site.

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Stefani Jessica is a creative studio focused on creating a clear message for your business. Through intentional brand & website design plus copywriting all included in one package, stress less and flourish within your business.

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Stefani Jessica is a creative studio focused on creating a clear story for your business. Through intentional brand & website design, stress less and flourish within your business.
Coding since I was 12, creative since birth.

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