In the rush to design and create your website as quickly as possible many people forget, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Your website is likely the first visual image that a potential customer sees of your company. So, you certainly want to make a good first impression, right? In fact, scrap the idea of a good impression; you want to make a great impression to ensure they come back for more.
The idea of a quick and dirty website may have appealed years ago when design coding was not necessarily at the forefront of an entrepreneur’s mind, but today is very different.
Plan your website
Brand identity and website design should be paramount in your thoughts when looking to launch an online business. There will obviously be financial constraints depending upon your particular situation. However, launching with a “quick and dirty website” even with the idea of upgrading in the future is extremely dangerous. As we mentioned above, your company and your brand will not get a second chance to make a first impression. You also need to ensure that your hosting service is reliable and in no way inhibiting website response times and reliability. So, what issues do you need to consider when looking at creating your website?
The dangers of ready built sites
Even the term “quick and dirty website” immediately suggests it is a cheap option without much thought. If you simple search the Internet for “ready-made websites” there will be literally millions of options open to you. The suggestion that a quick tweak of the graphics to introduce your brand identity, while maintaining the basic design, will work, is a stretch of reality at best.
The vast majority of ready-made websites are used as an introductory offer. It is after this stage that customers will be encouraged to upgrade to an ad hoc design which “offers more”. The jump from a ready-made website to an ad hoc design can be significant in cost. Very quickly you will realise that your ready-made site is substandard and does your branding no good whatsoever.
Sub-standard website coding
As there is significant competition in the website design industry you will no doubt find some reasonable offers for professional looking and professional acting websites. Website design coding protocols change on a regular basis. In fact, many of the ready-made sites of years gone by will now be out of date. The subject of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) should be discussed at a very early stage so that all parties know where they stand, ensuring your website is built using current SEO protocols.
The term SEO takes in an array of different actions and subjects but the design of your website is certainly towards the top end of the list. Coding errors, incompatibility with various browsers, display issues with mobile devices and missing meta-data can cumulatively have a significant impact upon the ranking and the quality of your website, in the eyes of the search engines. If you research the design of websites you will very quickly notice the chasm in quality between ready-made quick and dirty websites and those which have been thought out and produced on an ad hoc basis.
Research has shown that badly coded and badly designed websites are often more susceptible to various online attacks and instances of hacking. It is sensible to see your web design, and backend structure, as your first point of defence against online attacks.
Communicating with customers
The concentration level of Internet surfers today is far shorter than that of 20 or even 10 years ago. Competition online is rife which has created a marketplace in which the best designs rise to the top. Communicating with customers should be an integral part of your website.
Upon landing on your webpage customers should know who you are, where you are, what you do, offers, promotions and opportunities to stay in contact. If any of these subjects are not immediately obvious, many customers will simply move to the next website. Unfortunately, this means that you could lose business to your competitors. It is fair to say that a well-designed website with strong SEO will see good search engine rankings. As a consequence, customers will likely land directly on the most relevant page for them rather than the home page. However, when structuring your website design you should look at how customers can get to various sections from the home page.
Ensure the menus are tight and visible, the descriptions are obvious and helpful and if it takes more than three links to get to a chosen webpage, you may need to rethink your menu design. There is a need to find a balance between an eye-catching design, striking images and text as well as the structure of your menu system.
Follow the professionals to look like a professional
You will no doubt have noticed, consciously or subconsciously, that different website designs are appropriate for different types of business. The design of an informative blog would be very different to that of a leading e-commerce site such as Amazon; forums prompting discussions between members would look very different to an auction website. So, it is advisable to look at your competitors and leaders in your industry to see exactly what approach they have taken to their websites.
While looking at the design of a leading competitor remember that they will likely have spent thousands of pounds researching. The tend to keep enhancing their site and even continue to spend on consumer testing their latest website design. Therefore, if you can cherry pick the best elements of a website design and menu structure then you have the basics of a proven website.
Don’t forget mobile devices
The Internet is littered with websites which have been extremely successful in years gone by but failed to keep up with the changing times. Today we know that mobile devices account for more than 50% of total Internet traffic and this figure is only going to rise. Sales of laptops have fallen dramatically; desktop computer use is not what it used to be, with smart phones and tablets seen by many as the way forward. So, what happens if your website design and structure don’t accommodate mobile devices?
In simple terms, if your website design is not mobile friendly then you are instantly reducing your potential traffic, and potential customers, by 50%. Then, if you factor in competition for the remaining 50% of non-mobile device traffic you could be fighting over a significantly reduced marketplace.
It is therefore essential that you ensure your website design and menu structure are mobile compatible and easy to use. Such is the competition in the web design market that the vast majority of new designs will be mobile compatible from day one. You may need to make a few minor tweaks like adjusting display the menu options. However, mobile compatible websites are now taken for granted. There is also the matter of search engines which will downgrade your rankings if your website is not mobile compatible.
Using colours to maximise your sales
The use of different colours in your website design can prompt an array of emotions and encourage certain actions. We live in a world of high technology, exquisite website designs and tailored menu structures. It is a world where the use of various colours can be a game changer. Some of the more popular sales increasing colours include:
- Red – in moderation the colour grabs your attention. It holds the focus for a moment and allows you to channel visitors to your website down a particular avenue. However, overdo it at your peril!
- Blue – the colour blue on its own gives an air of authority and can encourage trust. You will often see various shades of blue in headlines and promotional images.
- Green – the colour green prompts thoughts of the environment and it is also the colour of money. Useful for a sales orientated business!
- Gold – even the word gold prompts thoughts of prestige and wealth. As a consequence, many successful e-commerce websites use gold in their designs to give themselves a strong presence.
- Orange – you will notice on websites such as Amazon that the purchase buttons often utilise various shades of orange/yellow. This colour promotes energy and power which are perfect for those looking to encourage online purchases.
If you’re unsure which colours you should use on your website, check out successful competitors and large companies operating online. While their website designs will be different, you will see patterns in the use of various colours.
Brand identity and website design go hand in hand and help create a first impression for new visitors. Cheap and cheerful, quick and dirty websites are not the way forward and can cause significant brand damage. In many ways you could argue that it is sensible to delay the launch of a website if you have limited finances. A modern, well designed and well-structured website could easily last many years before it begins to look outdated. There is no point in going for the “cheap and cheerful” option when you are up against professional competitors with impressive websites.
In the midst of all the options, structures and designs, human emotion is a very powerful tool and very influential. In many ways we have been spoiled by high standard website designs and the “cheap and cheerful” look does not even get a look in these days.