After a new business website has been built there are three main things that need to happen if it is to be considered a successful website:
- Visitors come
- Visitors stay
- Visitors convert to customers
A big factor in fulfilling these aims is the content, but engaging words alone are not enough. Mistakes in the website’s design cause websites to fail.
Getting visitors to come
There are four main ways that people find your website:
1. Organic search – people search on Google and the other search engines for information using keywords, and the content on your website is optimised for these keywords
2. Links – other websites link to your site, or you place adverts on search engines via PPC and on other websites
3. Direct – someone types in your website address in their web browser. They may have got this from a print advert or a business card, or they may know your website after having seen it before
4. Social – you gather followers on social media platforms who visit your site and they click through to your site from links within posts on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms
Neglect any of these areas, and visitor numbers may be low.
Whilst many of the above factors are not directly influenced by web design, it is important to use web designers who understand Search Engine Optimisation as they will be able to optimise the design around the relevant keywords.
Getting visitors to stay
WordPress and online website builders make it simple for anyone to create a website. These websites often rely on templates, which are ready-made design frameworks. Many of these templates are not great examples of graphic design and communicate a non-professional image for your business. If your website is using a free website theme, what does that say about your business?
Many visitors are turned off by badly designed sites and will quickly leave.
The modern approach to website design uses high quality images, simple colour schemes, clutter-free presentation and responsive layouts.
A business website is often the first point of contact for potential customers. Like meeting someone for the first time, first impressions count. If your site looks ugly, then visitors will leave. This is why it is worth investing in hiring an expert web design company. You can do it for free, but you will get what you pay for.
Confusing navigation sends visitors away
After you have attracted visitors and your site design encourages them to stay explore, the next thing that a good web design needs to get right is navigation. Confusing navigation puts off users.
The first thing to pay attention to is scrolling. Often it is beneficial to scroll down the page rather than navigate between multiple pages. Longer, scrolling, websites are very much in right now – with single page websites enjoying something of a renaissance.
Menus need to be easy to follow. If a website has a lot of sections and subsections then it needs to be clear to the reader where they are on the site, Breadcrumbs at the top of the screen can be used to make navigation clearer, and are an excellent aid to SEO as well.
Slow loading websites
If your website looks beautiful, has clear navigation, but is so filled with graphical elements that it takes a long time to load, and then this can turn visitors away. The time a website takes to download is also a ranking factor with Google, so it will impact on your search rankings as well. Often websites are developed on local servers that operate at a high speed. Not everyone has high speed broadband, so a site design needs to take into account users with slow connections. This will also affect users who are using their mobiles to view your website via 3G and 4G. If your website is slow and heavy with graphics, they will give up before it downloads to their device.
Turning visitors into customers
There are different ways to convert visitors to customers and your website design needs to reflect this.
Many sites initially want to create a relationship with their readers by getting them to sign up to a newsletter or receive a free report so that they can be regularly emailed.
Some sites want people to buy goods or services directly from the site.
Unless the site design shows clearly how to sign up or complete a purchase, it will fail to convert.
One of the best websites for doing this is Amazon. While it has often been criticised for its design being very flat and unimaginative, and there surely are much better looking websites out there, Amazon is brilliant at doing what it has been designed to do – convert. It’s so easy to buy from Amazon that you can do it with a single click, from your phone, in a matter of seconds. The web design doesn’t detract from this, the site isn’t overloaded with heavy graphics and the navigation is intuitive and often offers what you’re looking for before you even search for it.
Design isn’t just about pretty pictures and nice looking graphics. It’s about purpose. Know what you want from your website before you embark on any design process. What conversions do you need? Who are your customers? What are they looking for? What would make them convert?
None of these questions can be answered with a free website theme.
High quality website design attracts visitors, encourages them to stay, then converts them to customers.