Why Web Design & Development Are So Important For Your Business
Bríain likes dogs and building websites. He's the perfect fit.
Web Design and Development can seem somewhat of a daunting task for many businesses. There are many facets to creating and implementing a successful digital strategy, but the cornerstone of this online strategy is your website.
With the lines between online and offline becoming increasingly blurred, it has never been more important for businesses to make their presence known on the web. Whatever industry you’re in, whether you’re selling products or offering services, chances are that most of your customers and potential customers will have looked for you online before reaching out.
This article looks at the importance of good web design and development. In particular, it looks at how each element can help transform your business and your brand.
Credibility & Trust
Your website is usually the first point of contact for many people before they even reach out to you. As mentioned, even if your business operates predominantly offline, your potential customers will search for you before visiting. The days of conducting face to face business are becoming less important. First impressions matter more than, so designing a website that is not only credible but trustworthy is crucial. One study from Stanford University on Web Credibility showed that 75% of users admitted to making judgements on a business’ credibility from their web design alone. Other research, such as that from Missouri University of Science and Technology discovered that first impressions of a website are 94% design related.
The goal of your website is to communicate with the user so that it entices them to engage with you and potentially become a customer. Think of this on a human level, if someone seemed untrustworthy, would you do business with them? A credible website makes it easier for users to trust you and your business. It can make them feel more comfortable and ultimately feel more confident making transactions or share personal and sensitive information.
How your website is designed will have a direct impact on conversions. Whether the objective is to make a sale or receive a signup/subscription, the ultimate goal is to achieve this in as few clicks as possible. However, the one click dream is far from a reality. For instance, a new user trying to purchase an item online is usually required to carry out multiple steps in order to confirm payment; add an item to cart, shipping address, card details and confirm the order. With this in mind, it is important that websites guide the user to the desired end goal with as few distractions as possible, ensuring the journey is seamless while keeping them engaged.
There are numerous elements that influence conversion rates on a site. Two most prominent are; the placement of your call-to-action and how you guide the user to successfully engage and complete the conversion, as well as the colour scheme of the site and how it resonates with the user.
- Placement of Call To Action Button – Your CTA is probably the most important element that contributes to your conversions. Everything else on your site, such as header design and placement and content creation all should be viewed as supporting features that grab user’s attention and guide them effortlessly towards the goal. I should also mention that users must understand and be able to acknowledge what is expected from them within a few seconds of first landing on the page.
- Colour Choice & Perception – Choosing a colour scheme for your website is not as straightforward as what goes well together or just following what is already associated with your brand. There are a number of thought processes that need to be considered first, such as what is your brand’s personality? What geographical regions are you targeting? People react differently to colours in different parts of the world. Who are your desired consumers?
A study by psychologist and professor at Stanford University, Jennifer L. Aaker produced a paper on consumer behaviour called “Dimensions of Brand Personality”. The key focus of her study is based on a theoretical framework for brand personality, that determines five dimensions; Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication and Ruggedness.
When it comes to colour choice and perception, each of these “personalities” has specific colours attributed to them.
- Sincerity – Blue – Down to Earth, Honest
- Excitement – Red – Up to Date, Unique, Daring
- Competent – Green – Reliable, Intelligent, Successful
- Sophistication – Purple – Upper-Class, Feminine
- Ruggedness – Brown – Outdoors, Masculine, Tough
Other aspects of colour choice that should be considered are the emotions that are evoked by certain colours and the types of consumers and their behavioural patterns, that are associated with various colours schemes. For example reds, oranges and black are aligned with impulse shoppers. These colours are powerful and aggressive and can be used to create urgency, for example sales. Green and Navy, on the other hand, are more of relaxing colours, hence why they are popular colours for banks and larger department stores. It is often associated with shoppers that are more financially conscious.
Another study by Joe Hallock called “Colour Assignment” highlights the preference of different colours based on gender and age group.
Obviously, these are all guidelines in terms of how you should approach design and colour selection for your website, as they also have to tie in with your existing brand appearance, but it is crucial that a clear understanding and approach is necessary in order for it to work well.
Brand Message & Brand Consistency
Brands that have a consistent visual brand image and language make a far greater impression than those that don’t. Much like traditional print media, your website can showcase your logo, products and services. However where it exceeds traditional methods is through the ability to have almost full control over how your brand image and reputation is perceived.
The goal of your website is to communicate clearly to the user what your brand is about and what it represents. Visual presentation plays a large part in reinforcing your brand’s message. If this is in any way disjointed it can result in your marketing losing its overall impact. Studies show that 90% of information transmitted to our brains is visual. Even more interesting regarding web design, our brains process visual information 60,000 times faster than text.
As we are now entering an age where visual learning is becoming more prominent in everyday life, it is paramount that websites are able to communicate their brand message and image through cohesive visual design. For instance, the new wave of consumers, Generation Z, are characterised by their short attention spans and desire for visual learning over text. For businesses looking to target this new group of consumers online, it means reassessing how their brand is being perceived and how they communicate with this new audience.
The State of Content report highlighted that 59% of consumers would prefer to engage with content that is beautifully designed rather than simple. If you think of Generation Z’s online behaviours, such as operating with multiple screens on one device at any one time, it is critical that your website and content grab their attention is that short window.
As previously mentioned, your website is at the heart of your digital marketing strategy. It allows you to interact with a larger audience than a bricks and mortar business ever could. It facilitates online dialogue between you and this audience by supporting your social media strategy. From these interactions it allows businesses to build a clearer picture of who their audience is, which in return, can then enable them to make better business decisions.
- Social Media – There is no doubt that social media marketing is a powerful and essential part of any digital marketing strategy, but it is important to remember that your website sits central to these efforts. Using a website as their online foundation allows for businesses to build and create a consistent message and share this through the various channels. Relying on social media alone cannot guarantee a strong web presence, as it is not possible to completely control what users are exposed to when they visit your social page. They can become distracted from competitors ads or the platform’s features and functionalities. Driving this social traffic to your website is so important because you then have control of the content and environment that they are exposed to.
- Building a Picture of Your Audience – The goal for any engagement is that it ultimately leads to a conversion. However, recording user’s interactions on your site through analytics, allows businesses to get better insight into their audience; such as behavioural patterns and characteristics. For example, are users engaging with the pages and content you would like? What geo-locations and online sources are most of your site visitors coming from? With marketing becoming increasingly data driven, arming yourself with this rich information can not only help get a better understanding of your customers but improve how you deliver value to them.
Whether you’re developing a website from scratch or planning a redesign there are a few more points to note before moving forward.
- Content Management System – Assessing your business’ internal capabilities can determine what type of CMS you would like to use, as many organisations like to be able to update content in-house. For example, WordPress is flexible, customisable and has a large development community behind it that are continuously improving and adding new features and functionalities.
- Future Position – It is important to look beyond the finished product and assess the landscape and where you would like your future position to be. It is vital you plan for peak from the beginning. Quality design should enable you to be flexible and adapt to the ever changing marketplace by enabling you to make improvements and adjustments with ease.
- SEO – Now that you have invested in your website, you want people to find you, right? It is vital that your SEO strategy is at the forefront of your development plan from the beginning. It is important to have a good understanding of your website’s architecture and how it will affect your SEO performance. It should also play a part in how your content is created, rather than tackling it once the build is complete. By optimising your website from the ground up, it will not only save you on expenditure further down the line, but will give you a solid SEO platform to work from.