Some websites cost a fortune to build but still look cheap and nasty. Others come in at a very reasonable price but look as classy as a classy thing from a very classy place. How do they do that? As it turns out, classy looks needn’t cost a fortune and achieving them It can be a relatively simple matter. Here’s how to create a suitably posh web design without going bankrupt.

Understand your audience – luxury is a matter of taste

Luxury is actually a matter of taste. Say you’re selling an Aston Martin. The car’s legendary sophistication is conveyed powerfully via elegant serif fonts, making a clear association with old money. In contrast if you’re selling an Italian sports car it’ll probably be much faster, slicker and younger, which the manufacturers portray using edgy sans-serif fonts and cutting edge website architecture.

Focus hard on typography, typography, typography

Use Comic Sans and whatever you’re selling online will look cheap and nasty, even if it’s actually priced in the millions. The most expensive looking sites invariably major on typographical excellence. Great typography alone can make a dramatic impression, which is why some luxury brands spend thousands on it. It’s good to track down Google fonts that work well in combination. Use excellent resources like this and don’t be scared to be bold.

Harness line height to suggest quality

What does a badly designed website look like? The line height is a sure sign. On the face of it, the leading between the lines of text is only a small thing. But it’s crucial to making text readable. Most out-of-the-box solutions are really mean with line height, pushing the lines of text far too close together or worse still, simply ignoring leading altogether.

For classy good looks, be generous with white space and focus on every aspect of the way your text looks in relation to itself and everything else. It isn’t rocket science and it makes a huge difference. Don’t know where to start? We love this invaluable little typography tool from pearsonified.

Avoid stock photos

Try to avoid stock photos wherever possible. They have to be used very cleverly if you want to pull it off, otherwise they just look a bit rubbish. There are countless professional photographers out there, many of whom are absolutely crying out for somewhere to showcase their work in exchange for a credit on the website or a link back to their portfolio. And they deserve your support – the way things are going online, we need to use ’em or we’ll lose ’em.

If you absolutely have to use stock photography, be creative. A close-up of a well tailored suit, for example, will say much more about a respected brand than a cheesy photo of a grinning mail order catalogue-style man wearing it.

Keep it simple – Don’t confuse people

Luxury does not mean adding every available jazzy feature to a site. In fact it usually means quite the opposite. If you want to add jazzy stuff, you need to do it very carefully indeed, interweaving it intelligently with the experience to add real value. Otherwise you just end up with something confusing, leaving visitors lost in marketing space and unable to figure out how the site works.

Imagine walking into a luxury high-end fashion boutique on Park Avenue. Now imagine walking into Sports Direct on a retail park. Less really is more… no contest.

Pick your colour scheme wisely

Pick colours carefully. The best quality brands tend to steer clear of bright, primary colours and loud colour combinations, which scream ‘cheap’. They focus on subtler, more nuanced colours instead. If you don’t know a classy colour combo if one bit you, there’s help at hand. We particularly like the services offered by Adobe and Flatinspire, both of which help you pick one or two interesting colours and identify subtle variations on them.

Remember small screen gadgets

Luxury brands cater for their clients’ every need. So why wouldn’t you do the same? It’s all very well delivering a perfect desktop experience, but if your site doesn’t translate cleverly onto a small screen, the likelihood is it won’t convey the luxury message to people who try to use it. You’ll just look silly.

With at least 50% of all internet users accessing the interweb via their smartphones, any site that doesn’t comply will automatically look old-fashioned, way behind the curve. Sadly the Rolex website is a good example. It looks stunning on a desktop PC but try it on your smartphone… urgh!

Give the professionals enough time

Look through any respected web company’s portfolio. They might not have worked in your industry before, but do they look capable of producing good quality work? If so, you’re ready to talk about what you want to achieve and why.

But if you want high-end luxury, it takes thought and it takes expertise, and designers who consistently pull it off are usually in high demand. When hiring a web team, remember you’re actually buying time. And remember the amount of time they spend on your site is directly proportional to the end results. In web design as in any other discipline, the ultimate in luxury comes at a price.

Give your website design company the space and time to do a proper job. Be prepared to pay a fair price for the best-in-breed. Bear in mind that quality costs money. It may be better to compromise on a couple of pages or features to free up the budget you need to achieve something you can be proud of. If you’re the proud owner of a classy brand – or want to make your everyday brand look classy – it’s worth it.

If you want to look like a class act…

Design with quality in mind and your ROI could be huge. But the potential cost of a design that diminishes and cheapens your brand could do untold damage as well as knackering your bottom line. If you want to stand head and shoulders above the rest, give us a call.