In an era of technological revolution, failing to have a website for your business is comparable to being rendered obsolete. Without an online presence, you fall back against your competitors and allow them to have the edge over you. It is integral in reaching your business endeavors, increasing revenue, and staying relevant among your target audience and consumers.
Essentially, your website is a domain that should contain pages upon pages of content relevant to your site. However, it is best to think of your website as more than just an online presence, but as a means to leave digital footprints. All that considered, it is imperative to not only have a website for your business but create one that matches your goals and speaks to your audiences. While your digital marketing plan may go beyond website design, it should be one of your online marketing blueprints’ paramount aspects. Your website is a pivotal instrument of your marketing plan.
For this reason, you should consider dedicating a substantial amount of time and effort to your website design approach. Bear in mind that your website significantly contributes to the success of your business. With that said, how well your website performs can dramatically impact your business as a whole. While there is an array of design features that separate the bad websites from the good ones, you should narrow down your potential list of features and zero in on the most critical design features. These are the very same features that elevate your website from being good to excellent. A website should be more than just impressive. It should be functional as well.
Keep in mind that your visitors will likely form opinions about your website when they visit. In this regard, the ways they interact with your website should be a vital aspect in your mind when your website is still in the initial phases of the design phase. With so many factors coming into play during the design phase, it can be easy to get caught up in some of the smaller and more complex details of your website’s design and style. However, if you want your website to deliver, it is best to stay focused on the user experience.
Below are some of the crucial factors in designing an effective website–all of which, when improved, will give you real and measurable results:
Websites need a clear and well-defined purpose. After all, how else are you able to understand what to expect out of their website if you do not? Having a purpose for your website allows you to work towards a goal. Additionally, your website’s purpose enables you to determine how your website should be managed best, what messages should be conveyed to visitors, what content to include, and everything involved and running a website. Unfortunately, a website’s purpose is often overlooked by site owners. They rush through the process and jump right through the design phase without clearly understanding what they wish to achieve. As a result, your website will lack direction or any real semblance of sense. That said, you lose your chance of making a significant and positive impact on your website. Your purpose should be clear and specific. Vague statements such as wishing to improve your business and have a more substantial presence online will get you nowhere. Instead, consider something that is measurable such as aiming to have a consistent source of leads for your services or improving communication with clients. The latter allows you to determine what you wish to accomplish with your website specifically. Now, it is just a matter of looking for ways to make that happen.
Example: A retail website such as Shopee or Lazada is very clear about their purpose. They wish for users to utilize their platform as an alternative avenue for online shopping where they can find almost everything they want and need. Similarly, the online shopping platform also serves as an avenue for sellers all over the world to showcase and sell their wares.
Now that you have a purpose, you need to communicate to your website visitors why your website exists. It is easy to get caught up in the design phase. Understandably, you may wish to incorporate all sorts of new features and fancy things. Unfortunately, more features do not necessarily bode well for your website–especially if they are not relevant to your purpose. More often than not, an overloaded website can produce a watered-down message that confuses visitors. With that said, your website should achieve the clarity that will show visitors what they can get out of your website, why they should stick around, and why they should care. Sometimes, the most straightforward way to achieve this is through simplicity. In this case, less is more. Declutter your website to ensure that visitors can understand your primary message.
Example: Camping Gears Philippines’ website is an excellent website that showcases clarity. In a nutshell, their website addresses the question as to why they exist. It is an avenue for outdoor enthusiasts and campers alike to learn more about their passion for the great outdoors as well as read up on various how-to articles and videos that would aid them in their camping and hiking journey.
Moreover, the website incorporates a retail function where visitors can easily shop for camping and hiking gears on the website itself.
A website is essentially ineffective if it cannot be of use to your visitors. For it to be successful, people need to be able to use it. Keep in mind that aesthetics and design are all for naught if your website is not even functional. Both can never replace the need for usability. Your website’s usability will often depend on the nature of your website. Blog websites need to provide excellent readability and easy navigation between articles, while e-commerce websites need to have a working and effective function, user-friendly shopping carts, etc. Websites that lack usability often struggle to keep visitors on the website and likely discourage future visits. Keep in mind that internet users are impatient. They want quick results, and if they find something that requires too much effort, they will leave.
Example: Another excellent website that showcases exemplary usability is Renegade Folk Philippines. Their e-commerce website offers an intuitive way to check out their products and offers. Moreover, it is easy to use and provides for fast, easy and convenient checkouts.
Accessibility and usability are often mistaken to mean one thing generally. While they do overlap, they have two distinct functions. In essence, accessible websites allow more people to visit your website. It does not exclude anyone from visiting or forces anyone to use a particular type of platform or browser just to be able to visit your website. Keep in mind that if your visitors cannot even visit your website, then it is not usable either. For a website to be effective, it needs to be widely accessible. This means that no one is barred from using it regardless of disability or infirmity. Unfortunately, a website’s accessibility is often marred by factors that are outside of your control. However, this should not keep you from creating an accessible website. After all, creating a website that is informative, attractive, and helpful all the while being accessible is still possible.
Example: An excellent example of an accessible website is BBC where its range of inclusivity includes the design itself. Ensuring that no one gets left out, BBC’s website makes accessibility an integral part of a user’s experience. That said, they have taken steps to ascertain that their users come first as well as add value for disabled people. Moreover, the website prioritizes familiarity and consistency so that recurring visitors would not have a hard time navigating through the changes made on their website. Lastly, BBC’s website provides users with various ways to interact with elements of the web interface.
5.) User Focus
A website’s success is often determined by the visitors. As a result, they should be the primary focus in website design development. Unfortunately, website owners often get caught up with their wants and needs, insomuch that users are often overlooked and forgotten. User-focused websites are both accessible and usable, but they should be beyond that. Websites focused on users will build content specifically to cater to the interests of their users. With that said, visitors’ desires will always come into play when it comes to a decision involving the development of the website.
Example: A key feature in websites with good user focus is its ability to be straightforward–much like how it is with AirBnb. AirBnb’s website is simple and straight to the point. To aid visitors in their booking endeavors, the website utilizes a search bar at the top and allows them to set the parameters of their trip. Its pages are easy and quick to navigate without getting bogged down with extraneous details that hinder users from finding a place to stay for their upcoming trip.
A website’s navigation affects its accessibility and usability. During the development stage of a website, navigating should be one of your primary concerns. If you want your visitors to stay on your website, website navigation is vital. That said, you need to make it easy for them to find what they are looking for. Today, most websites use common navigational techniques that the average visitor expects. In essence, a website will have a primary navigation menu that will then link to other important pages on the website. Additionally, other links will be then added to the page’s body wherever it is deemed appropriate. Some standard pages are sitemaps, FAQ pages, and sitewide searches–all of which should be easy to find should your visitors look for them. Keep in mind that these pages are useful to visitors as these are the pages they visit if they have no idea where else to turn. During the development phase for your website, consider which pages are most likely to be visited by users, which pages are critical for your website, how they will move from one page to the next, what visitors can expect in terms of link location, pages linked, number of clicks to get from your homepage to other specific pages. All of these are imperative in designing the navigation for your website.
Example: Fairchild is one of the websites with the best navigation system. Its minimalistic design coupled with its responsive interface makes it easy for users and visitors to make their way through their website.
The appearance of your website is not solely for aesthetics. While your website does not need to have an award-winning design, it should still be visually stunning enough to appeal to the specific audience it is catering to. Moreover, it should have a professional image that elicits a positive response. As web design trends are constantly changing, you might want to evolve with the times–especially if you have not redesigned your website for a long while. Freshen up your design or completely change it every couple of years or so to avoid a dated-looking website. Keep in mind that your website’s design should not be the sole focus of the design process. It is meant to complement your website, not overpower it. That said, come up with a design that should match your website’s message and purpose.
Example: Spotify is already a functional website by itself, but its newest rendition of Spotify.Design takes aesthetics to a whole new level. As the hub for all things visual for the music app, the website takes a minimalistic approach to creativity. Filled with bright colors, geometric shapes, smooth animations and so much more, the website is every bit of a visual delight.