Your website is far more than a shop window for your business so when was the last time you updated it? With so much business done online your e-commerce, b2b or b2c company needs a site that results in high-quality lead generation and conversion. These days it really not just about how it looks.
Successful organizations know designing a site isn’t just about hiring an awesome graphic designer to give it an update every few years, though we recommend finding one as part of your strategy. There’s an art (and some cutting-edge science) to the mechanics of your site; consider SEO and traffic, branding, user experience and interface as well as your analytics and sales funnel. But what does this jargon all actually mean and do you really need it all?
Here’s a quick guide to the essential ingredients for a great website.
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SEO aka search engine optimization
The first thing to put in the mix is a well-researched search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. This needs to underpin your entire site. Looks can be updated and changed relatively easily further down the line, SEO is much harder to fix if you get it wrong. Focusing on your SEO strategy when you first think about your site will save your company a lot of frustration later.
SEO is essential for search visibility. Design trends come and go, but your brand and online presence last forever. If you focus too much on keeping up with the most modern design trends and not enough on SEO, you will eventually have a stylish, beautiful, modern website that no one will see because they can’t find it online. However, you shouldn’t forget design entirely. You want them to stay once they find you.
Usability and user experience
How do you get visitors to stay once they land on your site?
Research tells us you have only seconds to influence site visitors or they will drop off within seconds (industry way to say they leave again). The trick here is to invest in user experience (UX) optimization. Allowing these experts to manage the design of your user journey results in quickly gaining the visitor’s trust, building brand recognition and ensuring user retention.
UX and UI (user interface) are about ensuring your customers have no reason to leave and every reason to stay: forms work, links are naturally sited where users expect them to be, information is in the best place on the site, the text is clean and everything is accessible throughout. Your expert can design flowing journeys around your site starting from the different pages people land on from their search engine query, paid ad click or social media link.
Ultimately, UX makes the complex appear easy, but it dramatically affects conversion. By implementing UX, you can effectively improve how your company engages with its customers when they interact with its website via any device or application. This applies both to internal and external operations with companies seeing increased sales, lower cost of customer acquisition, increased customer retention, more market share, and less training costs.
A common error is for companies to take a short cut and look to their competitors for ideas; implementing UX methods that may not be ideal for their own target market. The pathway to an effective user experience for your business begins by taking a comprehensive look at your own business strategy and identifying your brand clearly.
Storytelling & Engagement
Your brand has a story it’s bursting to tell. Through your brand story, you’re building something that people care about and want to buy into. They want to know what makes you special and unique, how you are different from your competitors, and why they should be loyal to you. In a crowded marketplace, perception is everything. By framing your scarcity and dictating your value, you start thinking beyond the utility and functionality of your products and services to become a brand.
Your brand story should create loyalty and create meaningful bonds with your customers. A well-crafted website helps you tell that story. For example, unify your brand message across digital and print media with colours, fonts and design elements that reinforce the connection between on and offline and consider the message each text conveys.
In addition, having a user-friendly website that is inviting helps customers feel confident in your services so they’re more likely to reach out to you. This also increases their brand trust and likelihood for referral in the future and uptick your conversion rate.
Paid SEM / AdWords
Believe it or not, your web design will slightly affect your paid marketing as well. Popular platforms like Google AdWords have an algorithm that defines which of your ads are going to be displayed. One of the key factors taken into consideration is the Quality Score. This Quality Score is intended to give you a general sense of the quality of your ads.
Three factors determine your Quality Score: Expected clickthrough rate Ad relevance Landing page experience
The landing page experience status describes whether your landing page is likely to provide a good experience to customers who click your ad and land on your website. Designing for SEO and considering this in your brand story will help you in your paid marketing activities.
Closing the sale
The success of your website can be largely assessed by its conversion rate. When your newly built site is based on SEO and traffic, great UX and UI, a well-defined brand story and clear user journeys your drop-off rate should drop off (see what we did there). But what happens if that doesn’t work or you have a site that you can’t just ditch?
Digital marketing is still a relatively new field but the amount of data it generates is unsurpassed. Analysing your site’s data can lead to extraordinary revelations and improvements. But there is also a creative element to web design that keeps it an art. This unique mix of the art and science of web design has led to a number of established theories like Architecture, F layout, Gestalt, and others. There is no one right way and you will need to experiment to find the solution that suits your brand best. Adopting a flexible digital strategy that allows you to make changes in iterations will help you test elements to see what works best.
The best websites all share features that support conversion: the visitors must have a clear and concise path for contacting you, downloading or purchasing something from you, or giving you their contact information in some way.
Experimenting based on the latest best practice and your site data will bring your web layout, content, calls-to-action, and pages to drive far greater session durations and engagement ultimately leading to better user experience and less drop-off.
The success of a product depends on more than utility and usability alone. Products which are usable, useful, findable, accessible, credible, valuable and desirable are much more likely to succeed in the marketplace.
It’s important that you understand the full impact of web design. It isn’t simply a preference or minor choice. From SEO and branding to conversion rates and more, your site’s web design plays a major role in how your brand is perceived by consumers everywhere.