Web Design for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
Every business needs a good looking, functional, and responsive website. However, from our experience, it seems like only larger companies put a lot of thought and resources into their website. For small and medium-sized businesses, it can be more of a struggle when it comes to having a good website because of one main thing… cost. That doesn’t have to be the case today. Given the importance of a website in providing information about a business, every effort should be made to come up with one. Today, in most cases, your website is the first place customers will interact with your business. So, it needs to represent you as much as it possibly can.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) may require different types of approaches with their websites depending on what it is intended for. It could be anything from a simple informational website to a complex site geared towards e-commerce or even a single landing page. Form should always follow function. You should speak with us, at We Consult, we create unique solutions that will make your business stand out from the pack so that you don’t get lost in the paradigm of the internet.
What is Web Design and Why do you need it?
Web Design is the symbiotic relationship between web development and graphic design. Web Design refers to the process of coming up with creative solutions, arranging and implementation in order to produce an aesthetically pleasing and functional website. Web Design is what helps your business stand out from the rest of the competition on the internet, but it’s much more than that. It’s carefully curated and helps new and existing customers to get to know you better as you grow as a business. Below we are going to list key elements you should carefully consider when having a site built to represent your business, brand or firm.
Key Elements of Good-Looking Web Design
Web design is a like like a symphony. It involves the use of different elements and disciplines to create an exceptional looking and highly-functional website. The following are the key elements that go into creating a good-looking web design.
This refers to the arrangement of the graphics, text, video and imagery on the website – along with the typographic system, meant to establish a hierarchy. The layout of a website needs to be done with the aim of aiding easy access to information by users. It has everything to do with maintaining the consistency, balance, and integrity of the overall design. Without a carefully planned layout, a website can look like a jumbled mess.
Websites contain different elements including icons, clipart, photos, infographics, and iconography. Graphics need to be arranged on the website in a way that promotes user-friendliness & engagement. Essentially, they should conform to the other elements of the website including the color scheme and content. Graphics and content are important, they should be placed strategically to avoid over-crowding. Negative space can bring an elegant touch to the placement of the material you are including on your site and make it easier to digest.
Content is an integral part of web design if not the single most important element. It includes every element previously discussed, including typography. When it comes to content, care should be taken to ensure it is useful and relevant, also it should reflect who the company is on a personal level. It should give the users exactly what they want in order to attract them to the site and help them to stay engaged longer. Importantly, all the content on the website needs to be SEO optimized, be of a certain length, and contain relevant keywords to enable search engines to find it.
The colors used your website will depend on who you are as a company, what you are trying to communicate and the purpose of your site. For some people, a simple black-and-white color-scheme is all that’s required. Others may opt for a carefully considered and curated color pallet that conveys the personality of their brand. Color is powerful and should be carefully considered during the process of designing and curating the branding and identity of your company, which will eventually be communicated through your website and other formats like business cards, post cards, product and more.
Type appears, well… everywhere! Can you think of when type wasn’t apart of the over-all design of any company, brand, identity or information system? A Typographic system should be carefully chosen so as to enhance the web design and identity of the brand or company. Just like the other design elements that we listed, most SMBs do not carefully consider all of these elements and usually rush through all of these decisions. We recommend the exact opposite. If you take your time creating and perfecting the details that your competition normally glazes over, you’ll stand out from your competitors and end up with an identity that lasts.
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Key Factors of a User-Friendly Website
It is not enough to have a good looking website. Web design is focused on how the end-user is going to interact with its various elements. In order to have a user-friendly web design, you need to pay attention to these important features:
The architecture, menus, icons, and other tools for navigation are specific and carefully designed elements with the focus of making it easier for users to navigate through the site. The goal should be that the user can navigate with ease from one part of the site to another while efficiently finding all the information they need.
Web design needs to incorporate relevant pieces of media to make the information easy for the user to understand. Also, the use of multimedia makes it easy for users to find your website when they do searches on the internet, especially the continuously-rising popularity of video. The time spent watching videos would mean viewers are staying on your website for longer.
Technology is always going through new developments that make it possible for designers to innovate and refresh different approaches when building a website. Through technology, it is possible to keep the website dynamic, fresh, and professional. We use the most up-to-date design software in the market. You can be guaranteed that your website will be built using the most state of the art approach available.
It is very boring to visit a website where loads and loads of information are being hammered down your throat without an opportunity for you to share your opinion or digest the information. Web design needs to incorporate elements like opinion polls, comment boxes to collect your opinion on different issues and sharing widgets. Using newsletter sign-ups and email forms, it is also possible to convert visitors into fully paid-up customers. It’s important to keep in mind that your customers are everything and you are nothing without them. Incorporating creative ways that allow new and continuous customers to interact with your business and each other will allow them to feel that they have an active role about the way your business grows.
This has to do with a web design that is capable of performing well on different operating systems, browsers, and devices. When a website is compatible with all of these platforms, it will be more visible to potential customers. Compatibility is a synonym for responsive design and another important piece of the puzzle.
Functional Design vs Looks
Web design should aim at creating a balance between the aesthetics and functionality. It should result in a website that is visually pleasing and is interesting to interact with. When too much focus is directed towards one aspect, the website might fail to serve its intended purpose. For instance, you might end up with a good looking website that cannot provide value to your customers. Web design should seek to create a balance between looks and performance.
However, the focus should be more on the functionality of a website rather than its looks. You need to know the problems that the website is meant to solve. That way, you will make it functional to serve your business needs and your customers needs. In turn, you will avoid having a beautiful looking page that only confuses your visitors to the extent of leaving quickly before filling out any sort of contact form.
In this case, functionality can be equated to the foundation of a house. It needs to be in place before you start building anything else. Otherwise, it will not be possible for the house to stand firmly. As a small business owner, focus should go into making your website more functional by keeping your customers needs in mind first. Then you can focus on how you can effectively and visually communicate with more purpose and intent.
Characteristics of a functional website that converts
To reiterate, a functional website is one that is capable of offering a stand-alone user experience. It comes as a result of taking advantage of current techniques and trends in web design. A functional website will experience improved usability and is likely to result in increased sales. If anything, such websites are likely to attract the most number of repeat customers. The following are key features of a user-friendly and functional website.
Great Information Architecture
Every business website needs to have intentional information architecture. This refers to how information is displayed on a website. In order for your website to be appealing, it needs to be easy to navigate. It is one of the key aspects that plays an important role in improving the website’s usability. Informational architecture is so important that ignoring it might curtail the performance of your website. So, a lot of care should be taken to organize the information on the website into key categories and sections, which will help the user find what they are looking for and also boost SEO performance.
More and more people across the world are accessing the internet using mobile devices. And these people are slowly becoming the majority. In order to reach them, you need to make your website mobile-friendly. During the website development process, mobile responsiveness should be a priority. In the end, you will have a highly functional website that is capable of reaching a majority of internet users on any device they may be using. Desktop, tablet or mobile.
Fast Loading & Responsiveness
It is frustrating to visit a website that takes too long to load. In fact, most internet users won’t wait more than a few seconds on a website if the content loads slowly. This can result in loss of potential leads that could have converted into customers. To make your website functional, you need to work on improvements with page loading speed and optimize media content, like photos and videos. A website that loads fast will get more hits and rank higher towards the top of search engine results pages. At the maximum, a website should take less than 6 seconds to load.
Have you ever visited a website and left because you couldn’t find the information you you were looking for? Some websites are so poorly constructed that it is hard to figure out how to find what you are looking for. That’s why functional web design means coming up with a simple intuitive site. Not only will visitors be able to easily access the different parts of the site but they will also stay longer. This is what defines a great user experience.
One of the first things people see about a business is its branding. It’s the way your business will be identified to new and continuous customers. We consider it to be one of the most important aspects for a business, up there with functionality, most SMB’s fail to see this. But how is this important in boosting your website’s performance? First, it pulls in users and engages them to increase their visiting time on your site.
If you take your time, branding & identity can transform a business that would normally be overlooked into a game changer. Good branding & identity design not only makes you stand out from the crowd, it shows who is more serious about their business since they took the time to care about the details. Captivating and methodical design will encourage customers to visit your homepage time and time again. The more repeat visitors you have, the likelier you are to get leads and conversions.
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Your company isn’t going to remain in the SMB category for long. As the number of your clients increase, you will require a website that is capable of handling all of them at any given time. In that case, your website should be designed and hosted by a server that will be ready to take in increased traffic.
The best time to determine the future needs of your business and how it will impact the website is during the initial web design stages. You will have to research on the aspects of the web that are likely to change. Then come up with dynamic sections that will make it possible for you to add new content in the future, without having to pull down your website.
The purpose of designing a website, in the first place, is to improve your business prospects. It should have both visual and written content that speaks to the needs of the customers. When visitors reach your site, they should be able to learn what you offer and why they should choose you over the competition. You should also make it simple for potential customers to make a purchase on your site or reach you through easy to fill contact forms.
It is only with the right amount of traffic to the website that a business will be able to get the customers it desires. But that is not possible without SEO optimization. Make sure to optimize everything from the pages to the content, meta-data, images and blogs. Since SEO is continuous, there are elements of SEO that will be implemented at the web design stage, while others will come much later. The purpose is to be assured of traffic to the website in the medium-term as well as the long-term. Make sure to get the structural and technical needs of your website correct, then you can focus on the content required to organically position the website on search results pages.
Every business is created for a purpose. For instance, there are websites whose main purpose is to be informative while others are for marketing the products and services of the business. Others are e-commerce sites where customers can shop online. Thus, functionality plays an important role when designing the website so that the customer can continue shopping or engaging in your content.
However, the common denominator, when it comes to web design is the inclusion of the commonly used pages. Examples include the homepage, news/blog, products/services, about us, FAQs, and the contact page. It is through these standard pages that customers will be able to learn a lot about your business. Without them, a visitor can rightfully conclude that you have a bogus business website or worse… completely write your business off and never return.
Benefits of Functional Web Design
Functional web design can have a huge impact on your business. Its impact comes as a result of improved user experience, conversion rates, and ranking in search engine results. When all of these aspects are performing well, it can lead to more customers and higher conversion. The following are some of the biggest benefits of functional web design.
Improved User Experience
One of the obvious benefits of functional web design is improved user experience. This is determined by the bounce rate or the length of time visitors take before leaving your site. Less appealing and hard-to-navigate websites result in customers spending as little time as possible on the site. If your site fails to load quickly, you’re going to lose potential customers attention quickly.
Having a functional website that is easily navigable can be a game-changer when it comes to encouraging visitors to stay longer. That’s especially if it is easy for them to access menus, buttons, and links as well as any forms. With improved user experience, users will browse longer on the site and explore other pages. Who knows? They might just make referrals to their family and friends too. That way, your business will be able to gain more awareness.
Increased Mobile Traffic
Recent trends suggest the growing usage of mobile devices when it comes to accessing the internet. In order to reach users of mobile devices, you need to make your website mobile-friendly. This is an aspect of functionality that gives users easy access to information on your site and improves the amount of mobile traffic. With the increased traffic, it will be possible for you to increase your sales in the long-term.
Fast Web Page Loading Times
To reiterate, a functional web design includes fast loading times for your site. The advantage of fast loading pages is that they encourage visitors to stay longer on the website. After all, very few internet users are patient enough to wait for 6 seconds or more for a website to load. Visitors are likely to view fast loading pages as easier to access, leading to increased conversion rates. It is for this reason that you shouldn’t hesitate to hire an agency who is knowledgeable in professional web design & development.
Higher Conversion Rates
When a website has lower bounce rates and has engaging content, customers will stay longer, resulting in higher traffic which can lead to higher conversion. That’s because your customers are more likely to have a better user experience. When you make your information easy to access, customers are more likely to sign up for your mailing list, newsletters, book a call or even make a purchase.
Improved Search Engine Ranking
Having a website that is designed around your customer will lead to higher SEO ranking. The advantage of an optimized website is improved ranking in search engine results. For some time now, Google has been taking into account a website’s responsiveness when determining its rank in search results. No need to emphasize that a website’s responsiveness has everything to do with functionality. If your website isn’t optimized, it will appear much lower in the search engine results pages or worse, not at all.
How can we help you?
Given the many aspects that go into web design, you could see the benefit to hiring an agency that knows what they are doing to help you create a beautiful and functional website. At We Consult, we don’t just create a website. We listen to your needs, then we plan, analyze, and come up with a unique solution that meets your needs in a simple, clear, and understandable way. Lets talk so we can take your business to the next level. At We Consult, your success is our success.