For many people, design may be associated with something superficial and lavish, and people are sceptical about giving priority to it when it comes to use of resources. You run a company. You have great faith in the products or services you supply, and you have a website that works perfectly well. Why spend time and money on web design?
Call it superficial if you like, but we live in a time when the fact is that a company’s website is in many ways the face it shows the world. This is where customers often go first in their search, to find out if you can deliver what they are looking for. Web design creates an immediate first impression for your company, and is therefore an important tool for turning visitors into customers.
In this article I want to talk a bit about web design, and attempt to explain why this ought to be a high priority, what you should be thinking of and why this should be an important element of a company’s marketing strategy.
We humans are guided by our emotions, perhaps more than we like to admit. Depending on our culture, we are equipped with pre-existing associations with aesthetic principles such as colours and shapes. For many people, expressing themselves aesthetically is an important part of their identity. Some people are preoccupied by clothes, others by cars. And the car you choose can say so much, not just about your aesthetic sensibilities, but also how you want to be perceived by others. For example, we have vastly different opinions of a guy in a bright red Porsche, as opposed to a guy in a Volvo from 1989. Rather like the way that a cabinet minister wears a suit and a shopworker at Kiwi wears a green t-shirt. When we meet these people we know exactly where they belong. It’s all about talking the aesthetic language of the category you belong to, thus creating trust and credibility for the customer coming into your store, or the entire Norwegian population if you are standing on a speaker’s platform.
The same principles apply for web design and brand design.
A lot has happened to the internet since 1992, including new technology and new opportunities for how things look, as well as visual trends and principles in motion. Although your website is apparently working perfectly well since it was last updated in 2010, it’s important that it doesn’t feel outdated in the way it looks. If the user’s first impression is that this website hasn’t been updated for many years, how are they to know if the information is current?
Information structure and hierarchy
You may have as much useful information on your website as you like, but unless the content is structured in an appropriate way that makes it easy for the user to find what they are looking for, it’s not actually that much use. This applies both to distributing the content over several pages, and to structuring and sectioning the content on one page and creating a clear information hierarchy. Numerous elements of equivalent visual weight can create confusion for the user, making it difficult to know what information is most important and what they should read first. The content should be structured in a way that leads the user by the hand to the necessary information.
One important element for all websites is navigation. This often goes hand in hand with structure – is the content you are looking for under the menu point where you expect it to be? It is important not to lose potential customers on their way to a purchase – if they don’t find what they are looking for, there is a good chance they will leave the page, and the website will have failed in its task.
At a time when 63% (figure from Kantar Media’s seminar “Media trends 2019”) of all web traffic goes through mobile devices, it is really important for your website to be adapted accordingly. A responsive website means that the content adapts to the size of the device. A PC monitor is usually in landscape format, for example, while a mobile phone screen is in portrait format. If you don’t make adaptations, the risks are that a lot of content and functionality may be lost, and the page in general is difficult to read and navigate and so we lose customers. If we spend, on average, 3.5 hours on our mobiles every single day, there is therefore little doubt that optimizing your website for mobiles ought to be a priority.
Search engine optimization
Good web design is not just about what you can see. A website is constructed from code, and for it to get a high ranking in search engines, one thing that is important is for its code to have a semantically correct structure. As a web designer, you need to be thinking about how the code is to be structured as early as the initial concept phase.
User friendliness and the user experience
All the points made above ultimately come under one big umbrella, that of user friendliness and the user experience. It’s the users that the website is actually for – to give them easy access to all the information they need about your company. A wise man once said that “good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it” (Jared Spool), and there’s a lot of truth in that. Users must not become irritated over not being able to find what they are looking for, or having to wait a long time because the page loads so slowly. As you perhaps understand, a good web design covers more than just a colour palette and beautiful fonts. In addition to the technical aspect, web design requires a strategic approach, with an understanding of the users and their habits and patterns of behaviour. The website should give the user a seamless experience, where they leave the website with added value and with strengthened trust in your company.
Does your company need a new website? At Symfoni Next we deliver web design and development services, including content structuring, design sketches, UX design and frontend development. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a no-obligation chat.