A beautiful website isn't worth much if it's not functional for the user. After all, you're not building it for yourself, you're building it for potential customers. At the end of the day, your website should revolve around the needs and wants of your buyer persona, not your own. But there are ways to include the elements of web design you want without sacrificing the user experience.
Start by Planning the Layout
As humans, we're creatures of habit. If something isn't where I expect it to be, I slide into freakout mode. The layout of your website tells visitors where to look for information and what's important, and the navigation bar is the most obvious part of that.
Think about where the navigation is placed on sites you visit often--it seems like 99% of websites have a horizontal menu near the top of the website. If I saw a vertical menu going down the side of a web page, I think my brain wouldn't be able to comprehend it. Maybe I went through a time machine back to the '90s? What I'm trying to say is that whether it's the navigation or another key element of web design, unusual placement can catch your user off guard.
You can have a beautiful website, but if your visitors feel like they can't find what they're looking for, they're not going to stay. Right now, lots of websites use giant showcase images on the front page because people respond well to visuals. No matter how pretty it is, a giant photo that's there just to fill space can leave visitors confused about what your website is for and why they should stay. By all means, use great images, but don't forget to use your website's layout to organize and highlight content that the visitors are looking for.
Visitors are on your website for specific reasons, so help them out by making that information easy to find. Showcase images, main "attracts," and a wide variety of design elements (like the sections in scrolling websites or motion elements in parallax web design) can make important information prominent and highlight main goals and actions visitors can take.
The Color Scheme Is about More Than Your Logo
When it comes to choosing a color scheme for your website, it seems obvious to start with your branding. Sure, your website needs to complement your logo, but that doesn't mean you're limited to those colors--especially if they don't reflect the feelings you're trying to create with your website.
A well-planned color scheme can help create a memorable website and ease the user's experience. Say you have a website with a bright yellow background with fire engine red text (not that any sane human would do that). Besides making you think about condiments, that combination is jarring to the eyes.
The opposite is just as bad--I'm sure you've seen sites where the text was too close to the background color, making you strain to read it. If a website gives the user a headache or eye pain, it's not exactly effective.
Use the brighter colors from your color scheme to draw attention to important areas, and be careful not to blast your visitors' eyeballs out of their heads. Aim for color combinations that are visually appealing and easy on the eyes.
Typography is also an important element of web design that has a big impact on user experience. Pay attention to your fonts and font pairings, and make sure they fit your overall design. Just remember, the fonts you choose need to be easy for your visitors to read; chances are, if your text is too difficult to read, your visitors are just going to skip over it.
Your website should cater to and revolve around your buyer personas, and make no mistake--there's no web design on the face of the planet that's appealing and functional for every user. If you're interested in this, check out my blog post, Does Your Website Design Target Your Buyer Personas? or our master class guide on creating your own buyer personas.
There's a balance between user experience and the necessary elements of web design. All you need to do is take the time to find it!