A well-designed website can accomplish many goals: from making a sale to informing a client, websites are essential in today’s business world. However, the emphasis should not only be on having a website, but also on ensuring that the website is well-designed.
According to PRDaily.com, “Visitors come to a website to satisfy goals, to perform tasks, and to get answers to questions. If users cannot find what they’re looking for on a website, they will go elsewhere.” People these days do not like to waste their time looking for information that can be easily found elsewhere—so don’t give them a reason to leave.
Sometimes companies will design a website without a target audience in mind. Other times, companies may design a website with all audiences in mind. Although it’s natural to want to attract every possible visitor, that strategy can lead to an unfocused design. As Forbes stated, targeting a niche audience will help companies create the best possible user experience for visitors.
Speaking of the audience, visitors often come to websites seeking specific content. That being said, it’s important to ensure that the website’s content is up-to-date, especially information about products, services, and the company itself. Not regularly updating a website might confuse visitors, and leave them wondering if the company is still in business. If visitors come to the site without a specific goal in mind, the website should clearly suggest next steps: subscribe to the e-newsletter? Purchase a product?
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that with web design, you get what you pay for. If a company doesn’t have designers or developers on staff, avoid taking the DIY route and pay a design firm to create the website. But, as Forbes noted, be mindful not to spend the entire budget on the website; in the same vein, do some research to ensure a quality final product. First impressions are everything—especially for websites.
Fortunately, good design is easier to create than it seems. For starters, companies should clearly indicate what sort of business they are in, as Inc. stated. While animation and photos can be great additions to a website, they shouldn’t overpower the company’s message. Good web design is often simple web design, Smashing Magazine notes, and simple web design focuses on what’s needed to make the sale, and nothing else.
The website should be easy to use and aim to reduce the visitor’s number of clicks, both Inc. and PRDaily.com emphasize. The fewer clicks a visitor has to make to buy a product, the higher return a company will yield. Smashing Magazine also suggests reducing the number of columns on the website, as columns push content into small spaces, which can make it hard to read. Essentially, websites don’t want to overwhelm visitors with too much information; in fact, visitors want to think as little as possible, so it’s best to give as few options as possible. Overall, the website’s design should be clean. If the layout is aesthetically pleasing, visitors will return.
In addition to design, content should also look clean. As PRDaily.com discussed, copy should be easily scanned; if it needs to be lengthy, it should include bullets and subheads. Similarly, heading content should be concise and descriptive, and stand out from the rest of the text. Headings should summarize the text and make the information less dense and more readable.
Helpful Side Projects
In addition to ensuring good design and well-placed content, Inc. recommends spending some time on search engine optimization. SEO allows for organic traffic and chance encounters with a website, thus broadening a company’s reach. Keep in mind, though, that SEO should be compatible with all leading search engines, not just one. If SEO seems like too big an undertaking at the moment, at the very least, companies should generate a site map, title tags, heading titles, and site descriptions.
Another side project to consider is creating a mobile website. With the rise of smart phones, website traffic on mobile phones will only increase. In fact, mobile websites are so up and coming that we recently wrote about the importance of creating a mobile-friendly website.
Last but not least, Inc. suggests using analytics to track website traffic. Even using the free Google analytics package can give companies a good idea of how people are using their site. If analytics reports are pulled weekly, it won’t take long for companies to notice traffic trends, which can then be used to further design an optimal user experience. After all, website redesign should never be completely over.
Folino, L. (2010, February 5). How to Design the Best Website for Your Business. Retrieved October 10, 2014
Hale Brockway, L. (2014, October 8). 5 things you can learn from a poorly designed website. Retrieved October 10, 2014
Pozin, I. (2012, March 27). Top 7 Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Make. Retrieved October 10, 2014
Stansberry, G. (2008, August 26). How Simple Web Design Helps Your Business. Retrieved October 10, 2014