Online marketing is, at its simplest, a set of tools that are designed and implemented to send as much traffic as possible to your website, where that traffic will be converted into loyal, paying customers. That’s the idea, anyway. But it’s folly to spend time and money pushing people towards your website if, when they get there, it’s just not that great. That’s where web design comes in.
Your website is the face of your business, the place where people come to check that you’re legit and, in the majority of instances, the place where people make the decision to spend their hard-earned dosh. With so much competition out there, yours needs to shine.
What Is Web Design?
Think of a cake that you really want to eat. What does it look like? I bet it’s beautiful, whether it’s a rich, triple-layered chocolate cake or a delicate choux bun. You’ll want a cake that does two things – looks good and tastes good. That’s essentially what a web designer does for a website. They make it look good, with the graphics, text and images that you expect from a designer, but they also make sure the user experience is excellent. For a cake, a good user experience would be that it tastes great, for a website a good user experience is that it’s fast, responsive and easy to navigate.
A web designer will put together an eye-catching, yet functional design for your website which focuses on how the end-user will interact with it.
This is slightly different from web development; a web developer takes the design and builds an operational website with it. To confuse matters, sometimes a very skilled individual can do both!
Is Web Design Really That Important?
Web design is VITAL. Guess how long it takes a user to make an impression (good or bad…) about your website? 0.05 seconds. And if they’re left with a bad impression from your website? Well, they’re not very likely to hang around.
Don’t be tricked into thinking that this is only important if you have an eCommerce site. More and more people will Google a business before using them (whether you’re a hairdresser, a restaurant or a consultant) and they will judge you based on your site.
If you don’t even have a website, you need to stop reading and book your free consultation now. If you do, get stuck into these 19 ways quality web design will grow your business…
#1 Creating A Brand With Real Presence
Branding can be entirely non-existent, present but forgettable, or utterly indelible. A good web designer will either create a show-stopping website that’s perfectly in line with your established branding, or tell you your established branding sucks and help you come up with a killer brand that really makes an impression. Your website is the hub of all your online marketing efforts, it leads to everywhere (calls, sales, visits, etc.) and everywhere leads to it (social media, PR, business cards, direct mail, email campaigns, etc.). The better designed your website the more effective your entire brand.
Why is this important? When your brand is effective, people will remember your business, they will keep coming back and they are more likely to refer friends and family to you too.
#2 Ranking On Search Engines
Algorithms now prioritise user experience over virtually everything else. A website that is highly functional yet simple to use, pleasing to look at and easy on the eye, effortless to navigate, and incorporates the latest trends, is actually essential for ranking on search engines.
Pit a well-designed website against a crappy one with exactly the same content on it, design will win the ranking wars.
Ranking highly needs to be important to you. Good search engine optimisation (SEO) will drive new customers to your site. In fact, in 2020 SEO drove 1000%+ more traffic than social media – so ignore this and you will be missing out on innumerable new leads.
#3 Responsiveness On All Devices
Think about the last time you loaded a webpage. Was it on a laptop, or was it on your mobile? The pendulum has swung towards mobile in recent years, and now well over half of all website traffic worldwide comes from mobile phones. As a result of this, Google now uses mobile-first indexing, which means that it will trawl the mobile version of your web pages for indexing.
A quality web design will leave your mobile and desktop versions looking smart – and it’ll make sure that they are perfectly responsive and usable. If your website doesn’t load properly on a smartphone or tablet, your potential audience will just click away and find a site that does.
#4 Website Speed
Think back to what the internet was like in the early 2000s. Websites would load pixel by visible pixel, and there would be time to grab yourself a nice cup of tea before the entire website appeared. Isn’t it great that we’ve moved on from those days and can access everything much faster now?
Your user expects a website that loads quickly and is usable as quickly as possible. The longer your website takes to load, the higher your bounce rate will be. Think about how you use websites – if the page doesn’t load and you get frustrated, you will find another site.
A web designer will create a website that loads quickly, leading to a better user experience, a higher search engine ranking and a lower chance of potential customers clicking away.
#5 Multimedia Content
Multimedia content simply refers to a mix of content; for example, text, images, video and audio. In your web design, you will want a selection of these – not just to make your site look pretty but, we’re saying it again, to improve the user experience.
Some potential customers will prefer a video explanation to a long wall of text, others will prefer an infographic. A good web designer will be able to advise what will work best and why. For example, even though you might want lots of video, they will take longer to load and impact on your site’s speed – which will end up having a negative impact. The right balance is incredibly important.
#6 Position Yourselves As Experts
It’s all about good impressions! We’ve already said that your website tells customers all they need to know about you, and a well-designed website can really show off your expertise. From how-to guides to blogs to vlogs, there are a variety of ways that you can share your knowledge with your customer base, and quality web design will make sure that your audience can easily find and interact with that content.
#7 Establish Your Credibility
You have a choice who is going to build your extension – a builder who has a website with client reviews, glowing praise and photos of completed projects, or a builder that you can’t find online. Who are you going to pick? Even if the builder who isn’t online is cheaper, you will feel that going with them is a risk – and that’s exactly how potential customers will see you if your website is non-existent or not up to scratch.
Reviews, portfolios and links to other platforms (such as social media) are all things that should be included in your web design, and they should be easy to find.
#8 Demonstrate Your Authenticity
People like to know about people. You (and your staff) are what makes your business unique, which is why quality web design incorporates reality wherever possible. This may be through real-life photography of your team, products, operations etc. There could be an ‘about us’ page where your team is introduced. Perhaps there are author boxes on your blog that put a face, a name, and a bio to the information you share.
All of this builds authenticity and – vitally – trust.
#9 Enhanced User Experience (UX)
We’ve talked about user experience a lot, and that’s because it should be at the forefront of your mind when you think about your website. A good web design company will be able to recommend and put in place a variety of tools which will create an enhanced user experience – and that leads to a customer who will come back time and time again.
This will include things such as simple navigation, separate calls to action and improved customer service.
#10 Effortless User Interface (UI)
User interface is the way a customer interacts with your site. You want this to be simple, clear and easy to understand. For example, if you have a checkout, the customer should be able to reach the checkout in as few clicks as possible. The simpler your user interface, the higher your conversion rate.
This is particularly important for mobile sites. If your website includes things such as drop-down menus or sliders that don’t work on mobile devices, you’ll leave your users with a poor impression and they are unlikely to come back.
#11 Provide Stellar Customer Service
You might not think it, but your website is an ideal place to provide excellent customer service. A well-designed FAQ system and the ability to access live chat can answer many of the questions or issues your customers may have. A good website will also include information about every aspect of your business, from service information to appointment booking to product purchasing, or simply finding a link to your social media profiles.
Your website may be a place where clients can login to their accounts, check on the status of their orders and update their information. The ability to do this with just a click, rather than having to pick up a phone, will leave your customers happy and far, far more likely to come back.
Regardless of the service you offer, your website may be able to incorporate these things – and a web design company will be able to advise which you should have.
#12 Boost Your Client Retention
Don’t make the mistake of focusing too much on new custom (by spending on ads on social media or Google, for example) without considering your previous and current customers. A well looked after customer is much more likely to come back, so all of that wonderful customer service your website provides will be encouraging your clients to come back again and again.
Even if they don’t buy the first time, a well-designed website will leave them with a positive impression, so they are more likely to come back and make that purchase (or book that appointment) at a later date. None of the work that is done to improve your website design goes to waste!
#13 Raise Your Brand Visibility
Once you have a website with quality content on it you will have everything needed for backlinking campaigns and PR outreach. It’s far easier to get other websites to link to a well designed, quality website, and the more links you get, the more visible your brand becomes. It’s also far easier to gain press coverage and placements for guest content if you can introduce yourself and send a link to a fabulous, modern, well-designed website that gives an instantly positive first impression.
This also helps to improve your all-important search engine rank, giving you a boost all round.
#14 Sell Your Products
When buying online, the checkout process is somewhere where a lot of trust can be built (or lost). Web design is so important here. Your products should be well laid out and labelled in a neat shop, and purchase should be fast and easy.
Think about how likely you would be to fill your credit card details in on a shop page which is poorly designed?
Likewise, the route from the product to the checkout should be clear. Potential customers don’t want to search for their shopping bag or jump through hoops to make that all-important purchase.
#15 Generate Passive Income
Passive income is an income stream that many overlook. It’s simple – by creating digital products that only need to be made once, but can be sold an unlimited number of times (i.e. books, eCourses, SAAS, templates, etc.), you’ll have an income stream that can tick over in the background.
Good web design will effortlessly incorporate these elements so they are front and centre, allowing you to maximise your passive income potential. If you don’t already have passive income streams, a great web designer will leave room for their inclusion at a later date (i.e. if you’re planning on launching an eCourse but it’s not ready yet, the site will be designed with this in mind so it’s an easy addition that seamlessly fits with the rest of the site).
#16 Explain The Benefits Of What You Do
A great web designer will ensure that what you do is clear immediately on your website. Why should customers use you? How will you help? What does your product do?
There are many places in your website where this content can be included, from a blog, to service pages, to the home page. The important thing is that this information is delivered straight to the client – you know you’re great, and your potential customer needs to know too!
#17 Demonstrate Your Superiority Over Competitors
This is where a quality website can truly sing. When someone is choosing between you and a competitor, your web design will give you a huge advantage – if it’s done right. A superb and professional layout, quality content, great reviews and (as we keep saying!) an excellent user experience will be ticks for you.
This is where your website designer will come in. They will be able to review your competitors’ websites and see what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong, and use this information to make sure that your website is the best of them all.
#18 The Designer’s Unique Perspective
This is a key point. It’s so important to be open to the ideas of your designer as they have a unique perspective and expertise. They know what audiences want to see. They know what search engines need to see. You may have an idea in your head of what you want your website to look like, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what your business needs it to look like.
If you’re investing in web design you want to see the best possible return on that investment and quality web design puts conversions – i.e. the thing that actually earns you money – ahead of everything else. Some elements of design are dictated by the needs of customer experience and ranking potential. If you embrace this, your website will help your business soar. If you ignore it and rigidly stick to your own narrow view of what a website is and how it should look, you will very likely undermine the effectiveness of your website, and the extent to which it can make your business stand out and become more successful.
#19 Lead Generation
The bottom line is your bottom line. Great web design will effectively but subtly include everything needed for maximum lead generation. This begins with elements like great SEO so you’re found, continues with fabulous content and user experience so people stay long enough to get to know, like and trust you, and ends with well-placed, friendly calls to action that encourages signups and sales without being intrusive and putting people off.
Need Quality Web Design For Your Business?
Get in touch! Our marketing wizards are here to help your website stand out. Whether you want someone to cast an appraising eye over the website you already have, or start from scratch with a brand new site, you can book your free consultation below…
Our Creative Content Specialist, Harriet Young, is a prolific blogger, Instagrammer and (almost) published author. A self-confessed book addict, Harriet loves to read, write and photograph books in her spare time - a hobby which transfers beautifully into her role of writing creative content for our wonderful clients.