As designers, we know creative elements can make or break a website. Poorly designed websites are often not read, trusted or visited for any length of time. In a study from Northumbria University, participants were asked about their first impressions of certain websites – 94% of their reasons for rejecting or distrusting a website were design related. In turn, good design should always start out with a solid concept: the theme you design your website around. It should pull every aspect of your website design together, including your color theme, style, and copy. A solid underlying concept will stylistically unify your website and support your brand message.

Deciding on a Concept

When figuring out what your initial design concept should be, brainstorm some keywords you want people to associate with your website (modern, fun, or professional, for example). Also think about the service you offer and the kinds of clients you serve. You can then do a Google image search for these keywords to create a library of images for inspiration. Using paper and pencil, you can then make rough sketches of concepts inspired by your image library.

Using Color Theory

Color theory relates to how color influences our mood. The colors you use should invoke the emotions you want customers to feel when they first land on your website – something you clarify when defining your underlying concept. The color used will affect people’s first impressions of your website. For example, red symbolizes excitement and passion. Yellow is an optimistic, energizing color. And blue invokes feelings of trust and strength. The colors you pick should fit in with your concept and establish the right mood. If your color choice doesn’t match your concept, your site may appear unprofessional and untrustworthy, causing visitors to click away.

Examples of Great Design Concepts

Blake Lively’s Preserve website features several design elements including typewriter font, close-up photography, textured recipe cards, and wooden details. All these elements suggest the initial design concept to be “rustic” or “handmade.” Similarly, you can look at the Amazon logo to discover their design concept. The logo’s arrow points from A to Z, meaning it sells anything and everything. The shape of the yellow arrow also mimics a smile indicating they keep customers happy.

Using Design Concepts in Marketing Campaigns

A solid concept is also crucial for a successful marketing campaign the purpose of which is to catch the attention of your target market and turn them into customers. To come up with your starting concept, you need to first get inside the head of your customer and understand what they think, feel, and believe. From this, you can then position your service in a way that inspires your target audience and answers their needs. Your marketing campaign must show your customers value in order to be compelling and ultimately make a sale.

Getting Clear on Your Concept

A good way to flesh-out your concept is to turn it into a memorable story. Be creative. How does your product or service solve customer problems? What’s unique about your brand? Keep things to-the-point and easy to understand. For example, Dove’s campaign targets women insecure about their bodies and shows them they can feel confident regardless of their size, therefore making a culturally positive impact. When in a clearly-written story format, you’ll be able to make your concept more engaging and reflective of your brand. You can then weave this your concept into your graphic design.

If you’re ever feeling your website design lacks cohesion or inspiration, it’s likely because you didn’t start with an underlying concept to tie it together. So, try it out for yourself. You’ll improve your website and save time in the long run.


Contribution from Karoline Gore.