Design Tips and Tricks for a More Distinctive WordPress Site

How’s your website feeling? Is it strong, healthy, vibrant and attracting new visitors all the time? Perhaps it is a bit sickly but still looking better than a lot of others out there. Then again, it might be on life support – fashioned by a friend of a friend a while back – and not a place where people come for a great experience. It’s old and tired and could use a major facelift, along with several energy drinks.

It doesn’t have to be this way. And as the saying goes among many WordPress website owners, “there’s a plugin for that.”

So, if you are looking for tips to make your website unique, engaging, and memorable, here they are:

1. Animation

Movement. It captures attention. And it is a great way to showcase products that can slide in from either side of the screen of fade in or out. There are other uses for animation too.

In the early days of animation, websites incorporated it just for fun – cards flashing, moving pictures, etc. that were supposed to entertain. It wasn’t considered a means to improving a website function or usability. But today, it can be used for a variety of experiences. As well, animation was a product of FLASH in the past, something that slowed sites down. Many more tools are available today, including plugins that allow animation for all types of user experiences. Consider all of the types of animation a website can contain:

  • Fading in and out
  • Bouncing or “flying” in and out
  • Rotating (great way to see a product from every angle)
  • Flashing and Pulsing to draw attention
  • Wobbling and Swinging

Animation can also show visitors key values and tell stories. Consider the website of Tamar Shalem Shoes, which sports a video of how a handmade shoe is actually produced by one of its craftsmen. Other animations on the site include moving shoes, and flashes to promote special sales.

On a lighter note, who cannot love Poncho, the weather app, and the multitude of animations that occur as visitors check for their weather forecasts (and other options too).

One word of caution: Animation is meant to draw attention. Too much, however, can become frustrating. Use it in small amounts and in shorter spurts. And start with your landing page because it is the first impression visitors will have of you.

2. Background Video

This can be a striking effect. Consider the video used by Septime.

While Septime is a digital projects firm, and the background video does not really relate, it is enough to spike curiosity on the part of a visitor.

Spotify, the music streaming app, runs background videos which add emotional effects to its landing page. The video is actually a series of short clips, providing visuals for all of the types of music available. The goal is to promote an atmosphere, and that is certainly accomplished:

3. Parallax Scrolling

The concept of parallax has been around for a while. Objects a given different sizes between the foreground and the background, in order to achieve a sense of depth. Painters have used parallax for centuries, and many websites for decades. Parallax scrolling offers an additional captivating element.

This can be a dramatic effect – objects, scenes, and/or words scrolling across your screen at different speeds. Usually, it is the background scrolling that is slower, but now website designers are experimenting a bit more.

Take a look at the A-dam website – a Dutch underwear maker with a great sense of humor that manufactures its products from all recycled materials.

The man on the bike is riding at normal speed; the large letters scrolling across the foreground are moving very slowly. This image does not do the website justice. Access and you will see the full effect.

4. A Gallery

The other element of the A-dam website that offers a better user experience is using a gallery-type presentation of its products. Users can scroll down a single page to see products without having to click links to them. This design trend has been around for a while, but it has not lost its appeal.

5. Combining Text and Image in New Ways

Superimposing text on top of images in unique ways will always be engaging. Put your creative thinking cap on and see how you might promote your products or services in this way. This example from Hongkiat may provide some inspiration.

6. Music

Music is an amazing engagement tool, especially if you know your target audience well and can add the types that they will certainly appreciate. While musicians will find amazing plugins for their playlists, there are also a number of great audio plugins for WordPress that are easy to use and that can add just that extra touch that will engage your audience. You can have a set playlist or even allow your user to select the music they would like to hear as they explore your site.

7. Fonts and Text

While visuals are critical to capture the interest of visitors or users, do not discount the importance of text. And it’s not just the font – it’s the creative captions, unique product descriptions, and other text on your site that will engage your audience. These elements require great copywriting, and if you do not feel your own creative juices flowing, then find a freelancer or professional writing services which have a creative copywriting department.

Regarding fonts, your first consideration is your brand. Is it serious and conservative, fun and kinky, or something in between? Your typography must reflect your brand, but there are so many options now, you can choose a variety to emphasize your presentations. Perhaps the best source for fonts is Google Webfonts for WordPress. You will find a huge selection from which to pick and choose. Get outside the box a bit on this element and “wow” your audience.

8. About That Color

Your brand should have established colors, based upon your products/services and your target audience. And this is a good thing. It makes you memorable, and there are certain emotional connections to color. Consider, for example, the colors on the Dollar Shave club website – rustic and masculine would be the first things that come to mind. The site uses shades of browns and deep oranges for this effect.

Even its shipping boxes carry the color scheme:

Contrast this with a site like Rolex – constructed for a totally different audience:

Golds, black, and shades of gray – an emotional appeal to an audience interested in luxury.

One of the keys to color is in shading and gradients. The more the better, so long as you keep true to your brand. Adding an additional splash can provide a spark too, so consider that in small amounts.

In The End

Your website is your audience’s window to your “world” of value you offer. You can have the best product or service out there, but if your site does not engage and compel that audience to stay and explore, you are dead in the water. Take a look at these design tricks, all of which are easily accomplished through WordPress themes and plugins, and see how you can give your website the facelift it needs.