Okay, let’s talk web design. First, a brief story:
You’ve heard that there’s a new cafe in town that brews artisanal coffee, and you decide to visit (we swear this comes back to web design eventually).
The problems start immediately. First of all, you can’t even find the cafe online, so you get frustrated locating it. Once you do reach it, the sign out front is battered and tiny. When you try to enter, you immediately have a hard time with the door. As you walk in, you notice that the counter space is cluttered and confusing. It’s so hard to navigate that you have no idea how to get online to order. It looks like they’ve outgrown the space, and there’s no seating room. Their branding is all over the place, and you’re actually not sure you’re in the right cafe. The “art” on the walls is jarring. To boot, you have no idea how to find the price of a cup of coffee.
So instead of having a nice cup of coffee and telling all your friends about it afterwards on social media — you leave. What exactly does this have to do with web design? Well, designing an attractive, easy-to-navigate online platform has real-life applications. Confusing, unattractive sites may require a smaller upfront investment but will cost you in the long run as surely as that poorly-designed cafe. Let’s take a closer look at what good web design can accomplish:
1. A Well-Designed Website Exhibits Your Style and Branding
Your website should be an extension of your brand. When prospective clients wind up on your site, they should know exactly where they are, who you are, and what services you’re offering. A lot of this comes to perceived authenticity. If your branding is clear, your website copy is easy-to-understand, and the design aesthetic highlights your company or personality, you’re going to come off as more authentic to viewers. Not sure why this matters? Well, an infographic from Bonfire Marketing (shown here at Vision Critical) highlights that 91% of consumers value honesty and transparency, even over product utility.
In addition to highlighting your brand’s authenticity, good web design positions you as an expert in your field. It builds up credibility and takes that first step of establishing a relationship between your brand and the consumer. And good style, married with great substance, definitely pays off. Check out these statistics on style from Go Media:
- A whopping 38% of consumers will stop using a website if they don’t find it visually appealing.
- Studies have shown that the first impressions consumers have of your site are as much as 94% related to the design.
- Users who have a bad experience are 88% less likely to visit the website again.
By emphasising design, you’re not only highlighting your presence and positioning yourself as a trusted, credible source: you’re giving your consumers that all-important great first impression.
2. Your Site Needs to Be Responsive on All Devices
Good websites respond to technological trends. Though your products, services, and branding may stay much the same over time, the way you convey this information needs to be able to adapt over time. All of that information needs to be accessible to viewers at any time, across all devices.
Did you know that, according to HubSpot, a third of people use their mobile device as their primary means of going online? And that 57% of mobile users who encounter a poorly designed or unresponsive website won’t recommend it to their friends? Here are two main reasons you need a responsive site:
- Your users. With the prevalence of mobile device use, it’s no longer acceptable to have a website that’s not responsive. What do we mean by a responsive design? Basically, this means your site looks as good on a mobile phone as it does on a giant desktop screen. And that your tablet users will have as good an experience as your laptop users.
- Google’s indexing. A responsive web design means that your website is ready to adapt to Google’s shifting algorithms. In fact, just this year, Google announced that it would start ranking sites based on mobile-first indexing. This means that sites that aren’t able to perform on mobile devices will eventually be penalized by Google’s indexing bots.
3. Good Websites have a Higher Search Ranking
We just discussed how Google is rolling out mobile-first indexing. This is far from the only way in which Google’s shifting algorithms seek to give internet users exactly what they’re searching for. Search engines are crawled and indexed by bots, who speak a specific language of web design. They respond to some of the following elements by ranking some sites higher than others when people search:
- Keyword optimisation.
- Proper sub-heading usage.
- Easy menus and navigability.
- In-page coding like meta tags.
- Unique, useful, and quality content
All of these elements of good design translate into better organic SEO. Because you’re providing an excellent user interface, quality content, and continually improved functionality, search engines reward you with star status. In turn, you benefit from increased organic traffic — and content that people are eager to share on social media.
In the long run, having a well-optimised page pays off. And in general, if search engine bots are gleaning good enough information from your site to rank you well — it means that your users are getting good information as well. A win-win for bots and humans (and you) alike.
4. Scalability: A Well-Designed Website Can Grow With your Business
Remember that coffee shop from our initial example? Well, it’s doubtful that a cramped cafe that’s designed poorly is going to be able to expand to keep up with business (if they wind up attracting any). The same is true for your website. It’s crucial to have your website designed with growth in mind — and to do that, it must be built on a solid foundation. This means that a good website:
- Has good “bones” in the form of a cohesive framework.
- Has the ability to grow with your business.
- Can add new content and pages without detracting from authenticity and branding.
Think about it. As you start with, say, an e-commerce store, you might only have a few hundred purchases a year. If you experience exponential growth, the number of visitors and shoppers might (hopefully) increase into the thousands or even tens of thousands. You can’t have a website that stutters and slows down with increased users: mobile sites that load faster (in under five seconds) are viewed for 70% longer than slow sites. You need to have a well-designed website that can grow with your e-commerce, increased visitors, and digital marketing goals — without slowing down.
5. Your Website Should Help you Meet Business Goals
Don’t think of a website as a place to just park your contact information. Expand your viewpoint to take in all the opportunities that this digital marketing platform offers:
- 24/7 Availability. Your potential customers can check out your products or services at any time, from anywhere, without the need to place a phone call or send an email.
- Lead generation. With 61% of marketers saying that lead generation is their biggest challenge, it’s so crucial to have a website that is easily found, shared and navigated by your leads.
- Targeting Segments. If you have a niche or local content, don’t underestimate the potential for your website’s SEO to draw in users based on keywords and SEO targeting.
- Measuring success. One of the keys to success is being able to measure it. With tools like Google Analytics, you can measure your ROI and count your successes by seeing who is visiting your site, and when.
Can we go back to the cafe analogy? In that scenario, the business owners made the mistake of separating the presentation of their product from the product itself. But if your coffee shop (or website) is a mess, impossible to navigate, and deters people from sharing their experience on social media — then you are limiting your growth as a business. Solid and attractive web design recognises that it’s not just about what you offer — it’s about how you offer it, and the experience your users have while they’re obtaining or using your product.
The Wise Investment of Good Web Design
Some people hesitate at the idea of spending good money on quality web design. But usually, that’s because they’re not looking at web design as part of a holistic business strategy. Quality design starts making sense when you consider how it can boost organic traffic, grow with your business, and spread the word on social media. It’s a no-brainer: invest in your business by investing in a quality website.