When it comes to designing a website, or even a single page, there are a few basic rules: Keep it fast, clean and simple. OK, that's all good and well, but once you get beyond the low-hanging fruit and into the nitty-gritty, what should you be paying attention to? You might be surprised what works and what doesn't, as Help Scout explains.
Help Scout supplies online customer support tools and so has some experience with UX and ecommerce. There's an article by the company over on Inc. that goes into amazing detail about what keeps people engaged with websites -- and what turns them away.
The aforementioned qualities of performance and simplicity are covered, but what you might find contradictory is going with text over images. While a pictured can indeed be worth 1000 words, that's far too many for a landing or intro page.
Full-width, background photos are all the rage these days, but if they're accompanied by a small headline (or none at all), you can be doing your site a disservice:
Headlines draw people's attention almost immediately, and outperform pictures by a large margin ... People scan only the first couple of words in a headline before they make their decision to leave or stay ... Your headline has approximately ~1 second to capture a reader's attention before being ignored. Why this is important: You're sabotaging your sales if the major pages on your site don't have great headlines telling customers exactly what the page is about.
In addition, many sites don't take into account the "F-pattern": in basic terms, we have a tendency to scan content in an F-shaped pattern; starting from the top, left to right, with less and less horizontal distance covered the further you go down the page.
The piece also clears up the misconception of the "three-click rule":
...if it takes a user more than 3 clicks to do something, they'll become overly frustrated ... A study conducted by Joshua Porter published on User Interface Engineering found that users aren't more likely to resign to failure after 3 clicks versus a higher number such as 12 clicks. "Hardly anybody gave up after 3 clicks," Porter concluded.
That doesn't give you a license to make click-happy webpages, but you don't need to feel restricted in your design by what is really arbitrary advice.