Web design plays a bigger role in the success of an online business than most would like to admit. The adage that “content is king” only holds true if people appreciate the site it resides on. Great content on a sloppily designed site will struggle to attract and retain readers.

With that said, a website design needs to be relevant to the market that it hopes to reach. This includes everything from typography, color schemes and even features like image carousels and audio components.

Getting An Idea For Relevance

The easiest way to get an idea as to what type of design is most relevant for a particular market is to look at the authority sites. These sites often benefit by being one of the older and more established sites within a market, but they keep that standing by having a stronger visual appeal.

Take a look at the colors they use, the layouts used for certain types of content, and the different fonts they use for headers, headlines, sub headlines and the actual body copy.

They should not be copied, but they can serve as worthwhile templates from which to build another site.

Where To Start

In almost all situations, it is a good idea to start with a simple layout that focuses on typography, white space, line spacing and column widths both for the content as well as sidebars.

Make sure that the site is readable. Then, focus on different colors.

In some markets, color schemes can be extremely powerful in both a positive and a negative way. For instance, a site selling maternity clothes may do well with lighter and softer colors.

A site focusing on self defense and home security products may want heavier and richer colors to establish a particular mood for new visitors who have landed on the site for the first time.

Colors may not seem very important, but they play a strong psychological role.

Get Multimedia Right

Finally, it is important to make sure that multimedia is handled properly. Nearly every website would do well to make liberal use of images and other graphics.

The trend is moving towards more video and audio, but not every market is right for these types of media.

By paying attention to the other leaders within a market, it is easy to tell whether incorporating certain types of media into a website’s design is a good idea or not.

Wrapping Up: Professionalism Trumps All

To put it simply, it doesn’t matter whether the colors are perfect and the fonts are simple to read. None of that matters if the site still looks amateurish in its design. Clean margins, consistent spacing and logical flows of information, proper linking etc, are all more important than anything else.

A professional site design can make up for a lot of mistakes.