When many people think of web design, they think of the actual physical design of a site – how it looks, it’s visual appeal. While this is one important aspect, there is much more to designing an effective website. Users want an overall enjoyable experience; a website that’s not only sleek and easy on the eyes, but simple to navigate with engaging, informative content. While some may not realize it, effective web design can also play an important role in SEO.
In having your website designed (or redesigned), what should it accomplish?
1. It must make a good impression in an instant. Searchers are looking for specific products, services, or information – and they’re usually in a rush. Because your website is likely the first impression someone will get of your company and it may be the last place they land before making a decision, you have precious few seconds to capture their attention – otherwise, they’re gone off to your competitors.
2. It should communicate your company’s value within seconds. Suppose your website gets the search click and manages to make a positive first impression; does it then immediately and clearly communicate what your company does? People want instant solutions – they do not want to (and usually will not) spend a significant amount of time searching your site in order to determine if you’ve got the solution they’re looking for.
3. Should communicate professionalism. Nothing looks worse to a potential customer than a website that looks as though it was designed by an amateur. Today’s most effective websites are dynamic, sleek, easy to navigate, and perhaps most importantly, simple. Pages filled with banners, ads, every bell and whistle available simply look confusing, cluttered – and unprofessional. Your website should reflect the professional approach your company takes just as a physical location would.
4. Your website should convey trust to your visitor. The internet is filled with scams, and nobody knows this better than consumers and potential customers. Does your website convey trust? This can be accomplished through client testimonials, compelling content that is communicated in an intelligent, honest manner, having your contact information prominently displayed, etc.
5. Pleasing your potential customer, but the search engines as well. Website design encompasses much more than pleasing visuals; what’s in the background that you don’t see, search engines like Google do see. Proper coding and SEO is essential.
6. Search engine friendly layout. How much content, how it is positioned and its quality are important in web design. Google loves content-rich sites; additionally, key search terms should be positioned so that search engine “crawlers” see those terms early in the text. You website code and other structural element that are under the hood, such as an xml sitmap system, is critical for search engine optimization.
7. Easy navigation is essential. Your visitor should be able to find what he or she is looking for immediately, whether it is facts about your product/service, contact information, client testimonials, etc. When visitors have to dig and click through several pages to find pertinent information, they aren’t going to hang around. Keep it simple and avoid confusion.
8. Should calibrate your corporate identity and brand with your actual brick and mortar business. Your online presence should convey the same professionalism, level of trust and message that your physical business conveys. Visitors should instantly recognize your brand and even connect it with your physical company. No mixed messages!
Designing a website that is effective, reflects and company’s brand and sends the right message entails much more than throwing a color scheme together and adding some graphics! If you’re going to compete in a fiercely competitive landscape, the design of your website should incorporate all of the above.