Web design is the new frontier of a modern business. It is one of the most effective ways to drive more sales and growth for the business. It is also a great marketing technique for a product or a service to easily get found online.
Now, you might think about building a fan base on Facebook, sharing bits of content on Twitter or posting HD images on Instagram can help boost your business. This can be true; but, without a centralised digital home, you are only scattering your marketing efforts. And as a result, you are also missing the opportunity to engage with your potential customers.
So, if you don’t have a good web design, your business might be left behind the competition.
For startup businesses, building a website is no easy task. It requires a certain degree of tenacity, diligence, and a clear goal to succeed. But, before you delve into web designing, make sure you also have the basic knowledge on what exactly web design is.
Defining a good web design and its benefits
Basically, web design can be defined as the process to create a presentation into a visually appealing layout throughout the whole website. So, it transforms an idea or a story to build the best user experience possible.
How did an online fashion retailer, ASOS, aligned with the largest brands in the world like Nike and Tom Hilfiger? Of course, we should not underestimate what the site is offering because there is actually something for everyone.
But, the biggest reason for its success is actually its digital platform, using a dynamic web design to attract people. Consumers are more likely to engage in websites that are easy to read and navigable.
Having a good web design really offers a lot of benefits for any business. Here are just some of them:
- Clear navigation structure. Customer do thorough researches first before making a purchase. So, if your website is well-written with clear navigation structure, customers are more likely to trust your company and make purchases in the future.
- Page response time and speed. It is already known that faster website download speeds can increase visitor retention and user satisfaction. This is especially true for people who have slow internet connections and mobile device users.
- Ease of use. The success or failure of a website relies on the user since the user is the only one who clicks the mouse and decides everything. If the user cannot use a feature, expect that your website will no longer exist.
- Consistent brand design – Fonts, Colours, Style. Web designing also enables your business to create its own distinct style. From company logo, business cards to Facebook profile, it offers a consistent brand identity to make a memorable impression to the consumers.
- Content focused on the visitor’s goals and problems. Users do not make optimal choices. Instead, they focus on content that offers options and solutions to their problems.
- Content focused on the promoted business product or service. Consumers don’t really make an effort to understand what you are really trying to say. But through web design, a simple block of texts or a persuading call to action button can turn visitors to leads.
- Infographics and illustrations. People love information, especially statistics, numbers and figures. Using infographics and creative illustrations are a great way to persuade and attract visitors.
- Accessibility. The beauty of a good web design allows a business site to have a global reach even if it caters locally. People on the other side of the world can view your site anytime, anywhere.
- Security. Do take note that your website is your brand, your storefront and your direct contact towards your customers. If it is not safe and secure, everything can be compromised including your customers’ data.
- Video content. Studies says that more than 90% of the consumers access video content on the internet. This is to better understand what your business is all about and how you may able to help them.
- Mobile friendly. Considering today’s trend and technology, it is essential to have a website that can be easily viewed and navigated from their mobile devices.
- SEO Compliant in Google search. Part of web design is search engine optimisation, which is an effective tool to boost a business. Scoring high on search engines means high probability of getting more leads.
- CRO Compliant designed to capture leads. If you want to compete in today’s marketplace, you need to have a website that converts visitors into leads. Your website not only provide content but also positions that content to gather valuable user information for your marketing efforts and turn leads into customers.
Once you have made the decision to design a website for your company, your next challenge is selecting a good web designer. Assuming that time is a factor and the fact that web design is not your forte, the following qualities of a web designer should be considered.
Qualities to look for in finding the right web designer
Would you get a dedicated web design team or hire a web design company? Whichever you choose, make sure to look for these exceptional qualities of a good web designer.
Passion for their work
A web designer can have the longest experience or the best skills. But, without passion for their work could also lead to ineffective web design. Having someone who loves what they do is always excited about their work. And, that excitement usually spread positivity.
Web design is changing constantly. So a web designer must have up to date knowledge to create a more relevant, visually appealing web design. And, at the same time, these designs need to be compatible with the technology used by a consumer.
A web designer with good communication skills can also ensure that you will have a clear overall view of the project. They must have the ability to explain it in layman’s term so that you can easily visualise the entire concept of the design.
Now that you know the 3 important qualities of a web designer, let us also cover the most important factors to consider in web design.
Key factors to consider for a web design in business
What makes a great website? Definitely, a great web design work is a result of great skills and expertise. You may have read a lot of articles on the internet about visually appealing web designs. But, hearing directly from experts is priceless.
That is why we decided to bring you some of that knowledge and ask the same questions through a survey. Here’s what some of the best web designers had to say.
Great web design converts customers to leads
Terry Morris, a Professor Emeritus and taught web development, web design, e-commerce, computer information systems, and instructional technology at Harper College, says:
“a web design that is usable, accessible, easily navigable, and consistent will provide a good experience for clients and customers which in turn will lead to recommendations”.
Functionality is critical for web design
Maddy Osman, who is an SEO Content Strategist of The Blogsmith says:
“I actually don’t think that the design of a website is as important as the functionality. Above all else, your chosen web design must support usability. This is even more important now than ever due to Google’s focus on usability (currently expressed through ranking signals such as speed and mobile-responsiveness ) and SEO”.
Maddy also added:
“if people can’t find what they’re looking for or expecting on your website, they’ll bounce and likely never come back. A great design can’t make up for a bad experience”.
Gimmicks are a BIG no-no for startups
“With services like Google Analytics lead capture features are 'covered' at a basic level, and any website should have contact details so having 'gimmicks' to capture leads etc. isn't what I would focus on - it's a nice bonus but not critical to start off with, says Jamie Granados, JPA Design’s Head on Business Development."
But, Jamie also explains that:
“content, however, is king. Content that is focused on the typical issues you can help resolve - tick the 'do you find this a pain - we have a painkiller' box. Content that is focused on new offerings from you (the agency) is best as 3rd party reviews or referrals (press coverage - so have a press page if possible/relevant)”.
“Lastly, accessibility/mobile friendly - you never know where someone will be when they find out about you so make it as easy as possible for them to learn about your work, your philosophy, and how to get in touch”
Content, technology, SEO - Key factors driving the best web design practices
Jamie Granados also cites that:
“the need for high-quality content, be that well-written opinion pieces, good press coverage, a well structured and cleverly / entertainingly worded site, is king. Clients have become far savvier and are not so easily impressed with shiny bright things - looking great is lovely but does it work?”
“Furthermore, a combination of advances in consumer tech, and an ever-diminishing attention span in the society that has to be taken into account, so site architecture / navigation has to be slick and intuitive. The basic '3 click rule' is a good one to stick to - if I can't find what I want in 3 clicks from the home page, without using search, it isn't working”
Jamie also adds
“some good SEO work is crucial if you want to be seen, but bear in mind the larger more established agencies will have a considerable budget dedicated to ensuring their position on search engines - so clever content is good, and pick the areas / battles you feel you have a chance in - taking on WPP agencies for top positioning on Google may not be the best use of a limited budget”.
Mobile-friendly designs are extremely important
As the Head of Marketing at Exceedra, Jennifer Roberts also shares her insights on web design. Jen says:
“ease of use and navigation is important as you want the visitor to be able to find what they are looking for quickly, otherwise, they will be gone after two clicks”. But, Jen expresses, “mobile friendly is extremely important as people are moving to mobile devices more than working from a pc/laptop. Consistency is important to any business, you will look small if your font/logo changes throughout the website”.
Jennifer also emphasises, “more use of mobile devices” should be prioritised as consumers have “shorter attention spans in terms of taking the time to look for the answer to your question”.
Simplest, quickest route for a website
Head of Marketing at Goji, Elizabeth McCallum says:
“people have so much to look at online these days that you just can’t afford anything other than the simplest, quickest route to giving them what they need”.
Websites should always be about the user
When asked about factors that will change web design practises, Elizabeth says:
“they haven’t really changed, websites should always be about the user. Speed is perhaps more important these days because attention spans online get shorter every year. But ultimately, your website should never be about broadcasting what you want to say, it should be about what users are looking for when they arrive on your homepage”.
SEO Compliant in Google search is a must
Being a freelance strategy consultant in various advertising, digital and creative agencies in London, Ged Caroll has a vast experience and knowledge when it comes to building websites for businesses. Ged says that being an “SEO compliant” is the most important factor to consider for a website design.
“If you aren't indexing in Google, you don't exist”.
Furthermore, Ged also says “more focus on mobile” as it is one of the most crucial factors that can drive changes to website design practices.
Importance of mobile
Jason Rigby, Web Designer and Developer at Forbes Rentals, says the “importance of mobile” must be considered the top priority when designing a website. According to Jason:
“nearly 70% of our users are mobile. Three years ago our sites were not even responsive. Lead generation was also poor due to poor content and a long-winded journey. All content was poor with errors, minimal imagery etc, no customer ratings or internal relevant content”.
It is all about the INFO
“The client wants information in a fast and easy way otherwise he will give up in 30 seconds”
Says Adela, Marketing and Product Manager at Mintel, the world’s leading market intelligence agency.
When asked about key factors that have changed website design practices over the years, Adela answers, “Yes, now there are many UX roles that haven't been created until now.”
Brand design consistency
With over 17 years of experience in the field, Adam Jones developed a variety of sites from personal portfolios to large e-commerce websites. Adam says:
“consistent brand design is vital in an age where the marketer is often not someone specialised in marketing/branding but just whoever maintains the company website. This is especially true for small companies where ideas of design language, brand consistency etc are unknowns.”
“Also, a client doesn't have to be unaware of its importance for them to fail in the implementation of a consistent brand design. I've seen many websites built out of pre-made components on the cheap where clients were simply unable to realise their design ideas”
Adam also explains:
“The only priority that has changed in recent years that I selected is the importance of Mobile friendly design. Now that Google is ranking "mobile first" its clearly vital and this is reflected in the analytics data for most websites which show that the majority of visitors are now viewing them via mobiles, a statistic many website owners are shocked by and still unaware of in my experience.”
Focus on customer experience
“A few of the options I have chosen focus on a similar theme relating to Customer Experience. In recent years, there has been in a shift in how digital marketers activate at the campaign level, that shift involves understanding the way consumers behave in multiple points of the user journey/ funnel, utilising greater data aggregation across multiple channels rather than only using channel-centric data to inform insight. As SEO's, we should be focusing on widening knowledge of user experience best practices and collaborate more in a multi-channel touch point approach”
Michael Ernst, Global Senior SEO Director at SYZYGY, a multi-awarded digital marketing agency based in London.
Tap into the changes in consumer behaviour
Michael also adds:
“Voice search and the way consumers engage with digital technologies is shifting. Access to data and transparency of how user information is stored (GDPR). As mentioned, tapping into the changes in consumer behaviour, through customer experience optimisation and driving long-term brand engagement/retention.”
Ease of use and page response time and speed
Jitish P of JJ Roofing Supplies, the largest roofing supplier merchant in North London, says
“my highest priority would be Ease of use and Page Response time and speed, closely followed by Content focus. Most modern frameworks are pretty good with security. I believe compatibility with SEO would automatically be achieved by good content and good design.”
Responsive web designs are a trend
Jitish also agrees that most of these factors contributed changes in web design. Jitish says
“Yes. Websites didn't need to be Mobile friendly until 2013. Now that we have Responsive web design, it makes it easier to design and maintain a single website for any device size.”
Stay focused or distractions will win
According to Karolina Kulach, Webinterpret’s Content Marketing Manager
“one of the adjectives to describe the website visitor of today is ‘distracted'. There’s plenty of choices, but also a lot of information and omnipresent attention-grabbers. A Facebook notification can pop up, a friend may call or the Internet connection can be disrupted. If a website is not intuitive and there’s no strong motivation on the user’s end to stay on your website, distractions will always almost win. Today, staying focused has become a challenge for many users in many contexts.”
“To maximise the chances of keeping visitors on a website, it must be intuitive, easy to use and clear to navigate. Visitors must know how to find the information they’re looking for at a glance. Thus, be consistent, clear and concise. Additionally, focus on the visitors’ goals and problems. Analyse why they are on your website, provide them with relevant information, but also empathise with them so they connect to your brand. This can be achieved via design, images and text, combining valuable information and emotion”
Karolina pointed out that:
“sometimes a mere split second is enough for users to decide whether to stay or go. And usually, it’s easy for them to go to ... your competition. That’s why don’t make your visitors think. If a split second can decide about what the user may do next, I’d say that making the best and user-friendliest first impression should be at the top of business owners’ priority lists”.
“Further, as the use of smartphones is on the rise, the growing importance of mobile first design is self-explanatory. Although going for mobile first design can be a subject of discussion and is an option, a mobile-friendly design is a must. For many users, it’s now more common, more natural and more convenient to check content on their smartphones. If your website is not adjusted for mobile devices and creates confusion and inconvenience, you shouldn’t be surprised if the majority of visitors press the X button and increase your bounce rate. Make time and effort to optimise your website for mobile users”
Karolina also cites that:
“In 3 to 5 years’ time, there should be even more focus on the ease of use, especially for mobile users. There’s plenty of evidence already. Even though we don’t have a crystal ball, people like to browse the Internet whilst on the move and they don’t want to think too much to accomplish a task. In fact, mobile first design can become the norm and mobile websites can look and serve users much better than their desktop counterparts.”
Clear navigation structure
“In a fast-moving world as of these days, people want to get the information fast. This means clear navigation is a must”
Says Raditya Wiranegara, a Freelance Web Designer and Developer at Cranfield University.
“Page response is the second thing that I would prioritise as there internet speed gaps in between countries around the globe. The page response should adapt to the country where the website is accessed. The third one is the least but crucial in making the website more attractive and comfy for the user to look and read it.”
Raditya also believes that most of the factors related to web design have drastically changed over the years. Raditya says:
“I think so, in a way that people are demanding more. Perhaps this is due to the increasing capability and sophistication of current network connection and programming language.”
All options for web design are prioritised
Founder and Web Designer Risa Kawamoto says:
“It's really difficult to prioritise, as all options are important. As a business, you want a website that people can find (SEO) and then that engages and converts. To do this, you need a clear focus on their Goals & Problems, whilst being easy to navigate on any device (mobile & tablet included), otherwise, you will lose their interest.”
“SEO is an interesting one as different businesses have different priorities and use alternative marketing strategies (PPC / social media marketing campaigns e.g FB ads etc). Underlying this, you want to make sure that the site is as secure as possible (https etc) and ideally the business has a decent backup strategy should the worst occur”
When asked about the continued change in web design, Risa simply answers:
“I don't think the fundamentals have changed - you still want a site that is easy to use and that engages and resonates with your target audience. However, SEO techniques are constantly evolving and this can be challenging, especially for small businesses. Probably the biggest change has been the boom in use of mobile devices and the need to ensure your site is mobile friendly (which in turn impacts SEO)”.
Identify your target audience
We also asked Anirban Roy, Assistant Consultant and Full Web Stack Developer of Tata Consultancy Services. And, Anirban replies:
“Most important thing while designing any website is who will be going to be your target audience. Try to avoid putting on fancy stuff. Keep the design simple but yet illustrative. A successful website isn’t just a lovely visual piece, it’s a portal for attracting your target audience and giving them the information they need to decide if they want to become a new client”.
“Second most important thing is ease of navigation. Third thing is to keep branding consistent. Sites that lack consistent branding is stressful and confusing. Use high-quality images and videos but again don't make it too heavy for the site to take time to open. The site has to be SEO friendly so that visitors are able to search and view the site"
Technology is making an impact to web design
Anirban also share insights on the impact of technology to web design. He says:
“Over the last 3 to 5 years, the entire software industry has seen major transitions. Accessing the sites are not limited from desktops. Users can use smartphones, tablets, smartwatch to access the site. So whenever you are designing any website always try to keep in mind that to make it a responsive web design. Security is another key factor to ensure user's confidentiality.”
As you can see, most of these experts say that people are looking for answers on the internet. And, as the technology evolves, more and more people use mobile devices to search what they are looking for.
So, if you are in the business industry, information is critical. Or else, you will lose their interest. But, by creating a website, it helps you visualise on how may be able to provide solutions to consumers.
Find a good web designer who can address all your business needs.