Good web design is not just ‘a pretty face’

I’m often asked if good web design is more important than site content and vice-versa. This is a bit like asking the question about which came first, the ‘chicken or the egg’. Opinions will always be divided.

What I do believe is that like ‘the chicken and the egg’, web design and site content are inextricably linked. Basically what’s important as far as websites are concerned is how design and content are integrated.

Just like brand-building experts have long held the belief that a good brand extends beyond a logo and should be reflected in a company’s physical premises as well as in its staff’s attitudes and competencies, I believe that good web design encompasses more than appearance.

Good Web design extends beyond the brand ‘look and feel’ through to the site content and the way it’s organised, as well as in the technical architecture of the site and how the website delivers to its users. All components are equally important.

A website that is attractive is paramount, but it cannot be successful in isolation. The way a website looks must be designed hand-in-hand with functionality and content.

Frankly, there’s no point in having a beautiful website that provides no information, just as there’s no point in having a website packed with exceptional content which functions well, but which looks like a jumble of words, pictures and ideas on a page.

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again (and again): The Internet is the first place most people go to when researching products and services.

Alongside an ever-increasing Internet user-population is the rise of Internet use ‘on-the-go’. Advances in mobile technology mean more and more people are accessing the Internet from hand-held devices. So, into the design and content and functionality mix is the added complexity that your website needs to work across a variety of user-platforms, not just the desktop.

Research also shows that Internet users are gaining confidence, becoming more savvy and discerning than ever before. Search engines are responding to this trend in a variety of ways and are also becoming more discriminating about how they choose a ‘good site’ over a ‘bad site’ in their search rankings.

Graphics, usability, content, and the technical aspects of your website are all critical components of website design that can affect your Search Engine Optimisation. While this is another blog topic in itself, it is suffice to say here that it is critical to remember that the user has TOTAL control – a more appealing website is only a click away.

For this very reason the user-experience MUST be top of mind at every step of your web designing process. This encompasses how the user finds you, how they access your site and whether or not they find your site attractive and informative.

The good news is that if you get all these things right and you are serving the user properly, then your satisfied online customers will translate into company growth by delivering right to your bottom line.

Can good web design really achieve a financial outcome? The answer is YES.

And here are some pointers on how to go about it.

1. Spend time on research

Find out what your customers want from a website and how they use it. Think about whether the same applies to potential customers. Think about the business objectives of your site and how you will turn visitors into satisfied customers.

What will be the site’s conversion points? How are you going to measure these? Also consider ‘external’ aspects of your site, for example how users might search for, and find you. How will you use social media and other online resources to build your visitor base?

2. Don’t go solo

Pull together a design team from across all aspects of your business from front-line staff to high-level honchos. Harness everyone’s ideas. Build a vision and some realistic goals. Good web design these days must involve a multi-department and multi-skilled approach. By all means be creative, but not at the expense of useability. You need to walk a fine line between providing good, useful content and over-doing the jargon and the clunky graphics.

3. Pull in the experts

In this ever-changing online space don’t discount the value of professional designers, developers, SEO consultants and optimisation specialists. They live and breathe all things online and their advice will help you to navigate your online space to ensure that your website becomes what it should be: a powerful, revenue-generating business tool.

4. Test, test and test again

Get a small focus group together before your site goes live. Include staff, valued customers and people who’ve never heard of you. Use their comments wisely.

5. Don’t forget it

The best websites are always evolving and achieving great Search Engine Optimisation results depends on it. Use a mix of customer feedback, new content, technology and images to enhance the user experience and keep things fresh. Build regular reviews into your website strategy.

And if all of this is too much to remember, then just think of this quote by Supermodel Kate Moss: “People think your success is just a matter of having a pretty face. But it’s easy to be chewed up and spat out. You’ve got to stay ahead of the game to be able to stay in it.”

We hear you, Kate.

And the same applies for a good website.

Contact us to talk about good web design

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