Everyone needs web design! Well, almost everyone. Everyone with a website needs web design, but why? What is the importance of web design? Many different factors come into play when we deal with web design including conversions, aesthetics, functionality, and SEO. All of these play hand-in-hand with each other. Sadly they don’t always work well when all thrown together! If you manage a website that does have each of those and are growing and becoming successful, then you must have a good, quality web designer! Your website design is crucial in giving visitors what they want. Hiring a web designer is more than likely the only way you will have a successful website. So let’s get into what all designers should be concerned with, and what a website owner has to watch for when choosing a web design company.
Conversions are the core of what a website is all about. You made your (or your client’s) website for a purpose. It’s up to you to choose what that purpose is. If your website is about pure information and informative resources, then your purpose is to provide visitors with quick and easy access to what they came there for. If your website is all about selling a product or multiple products, then your purpose is to make your visitors want to buy that product. Converting your traffic into sales is the most difficult piece of building your website and, in turn, its design.
When someone lands on your website they already know what they are there for. It’s up to you to address this. The landing page should tell them everything you do with no scrolling! However, it should also not scare them away with an ugly, horrible, atrocious design. The website should have your logo, your company name, a few words to say what you do (examples: “vinyl replacement windows”; “web design & SEO company”), and a nice graphic that’s appropriate to what you do. This is your first impression moment and should not be lacking because believe it or not someone decides whether they will use your site or not within the first 10-20 seconds (source: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-long-do-users-stay-on-web-pages/). If the user decides to leave within this period, we call it a bounce. Around a fifth of your visitors will bounce off of your site within this time. Use this period to grab them. Make them legitimately want to stay without coming off as spammy.
Making your site look pretty and attractive is what’s known as aesthetics. Aesthetics are a huge component of web design, as we all know. Most people started in the field of web design because you like art, designs, and how objects flow on a website. Your web design should do exactly that: flow. Many of the websites that fail wonder why. The answer is usually partly due to a lack of passion. Your website needs to find its niche and target audience and use that to develop those conversions! The flow of your website comes from 3 simple aspects.
Give your website purpose! Your website is nothing without its purpose. Don’t clutter it with pictures and galleries. Keep it restricted to one or two pages: the gallery page. Don’t clutter it with widgets either. Widgets are extremely overused and many times unnecessary. Don’t throw your blog feed all along the left and right side of your website; keep it small.
Give your users direction! If a visitor is lost, that means you lost the visitor. Keep them organized; they don’t know the site like the back their hand like you. At any time they should be able to figure out where they are on your website and an easy way to get back to the home page. Oftentimes this is by clicking on the logo or “home” right next to it.
Give your users content! Your visitors are not going to spend hours on researching you. We live in a society where we want what we came for quickly. Your content should give them this. Bullet points are perfect for making lists stand out. If you find this article and want to know what gives a website “good flow”, I bet you could find it within 5 seconds.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a form of internet marketing that places your websites higher in Google search results to hopefully result in higher organic traffic and conversions. That’s a textbook definition at least; a simplified version is: SEO gets you found on the Web. Without it you might as well be invisible because nobody will find you unless you tell them about it in some other way, such as in person. Well if you tell them in person, they already know about you! Now your website is just reinforcing what you told them, which could be achieved in other cheaper ways like a business card. Without SEO, your web design is unseen, unheard of, and in many cases flat out useless. Designing a website can be frustrating when you want to leave options open for optimizing later, or simultaneously. It can change the way you expected it to flow and require you to adjust accordingly. It can also give you work you didn’t expect to be doing in the first place. For example, your images need alt tags…all of them. You should view these changes as an improvement, not an inconvenience! These changes should result in a successful website that thrives.
Many designers build a website hand it to the owner of the company and wish them luck. Sorry, your design isn’t “finished” yet. Look at the website closely and critique it. Writers don’t write a book and throw it on the shelves; they edit it themselves, and then give it to someone else to edit. Your web design will have flaws. Find them, address them, and revise it again. I find broken links all the time on websites that are “finished”. Broken links make your website seem uncared for, and will result in a lower conversion rate. If I am looking for information and you claim to have it, I expect the link to work when I click it. Functionality doesn’t stem from just broken links. Unintentional white space, horizontal scroll bars, and ridiculous fonts are found on “professional” websites all the time and should be addressed quickly.
Bringing It All Together
So what does this all mean? Your website’s core purpose is to give your traffic the information they came from, and (if applicable) convert traffic into sales. Visitors will bounce if they don’t find what they want extremely quickly: generally within 10-20 seconds. In this time, you should give them a reason to stay. When they continue to browse your site, it should work as expected. When they browse your site they should not be lost; they should know where they are, where they’re going, and how to get there. On top of all of this, it should be easy on the eyes. Web designers are generally artists so finding one that makes an aesthetically-pleasing site should be fairly easy to find. When all is said and done, check your site for errors, and then optimize it for the Web. Choose your target audience and market your website towards them.
Author bio: Ryan Gavin is an associate of Ignition72, a corporate web design company based in Baltimore, MD. Ryan loves finding new websites with great designs and other designers that do their job well and love it. He feels that without a web designer, a website is rarely successful.