Your website is often the very first touch point with a prospective customer or client. Most of them will start their Buyer’s Journey by browsing Google and gathering information.
So your website is actually a silent salesperson, working 24/7, 365 days of the year.
It’s now more important than ever for your website design to make a good first impression and meet the needs of your customers, whether they are looking for information about your services or interested in purchasing your products.
If they can’t find what they are searching for on your website, they’re likely to hit that little “X” button at the top of the screen and be lost to one of your competitors.
Regardless of whether your website is built on WordPress, Magento, Wix, Drupal or any other platform from the plethora currently available, your website design needs to be strategic and dynamic in order to grow your business.
Why your website design needs to do more than just look good
Great website design requires ‘marketing’ thinking, not just ‘artistic’ thinking.
Sure, the colours and imagery and layout of your website ARE all important. But you ultimately need to think about your customers, and the way they progress through the Buyer’s Journey.
Why? Because your customers are the most important people in the world. And your website design is all about them. Not about you.
The best website designers are guided by strategy, not by the desire to be the best finger painter in kindy. They work closely with you to rationalise the following:
- What will people see?
- What is our primary goal for each page?
- Where will they click?
- What will they experience when they do so?
- What can we test to find additional revenue opportunities for you?
- How, and where, can we build your brand?
- How, and where, can we win the confidence of your potential customers?
Out of this thinking comes GREAT website design. Clean… simple… engaging… persuasive… all the right ingredients to give you the profitable business tool you are looking for.
Features of a well-designed website
How do you know if you have a well-built web design? It takes a combination of many factors to complete a website, and the combinations vary widely according to the specific needs of a particular business.
At a glance, here’s some of the big ticket items to tick off the list:
- Quality content
- Clear, user-friendly navigation
- Code that can be easily accessed, understood and edited by other web developers
- Easy to use content management system (CMS)
- Simple and professional design
- Fast loading speed
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Compatibility across different devices and web browsers
What do you want to actually achieve from your website?
If you need a brand new website, or want to refresh the one you already have, the first thing you need to think about is: What do I actually want my website to do for my business?
Seems like a basic question, right? Make money!
But many people fail to ask this question or really think about it. Or fail to communicate the answer to their website designer.
And from there, you can usually expect misery and angst all the way. Usually ending in a whimper when the website is replaced in two or three years’ time because “it didn’t work”.
Wanting a “better website” is not a clear enough objective when designing a new website. You should think about goals for your website and what purposes it needs to serve, such as:
- Do you want to generate qualified leads for your sales team to chase?
- Do you want completed sales landing in your shopping cart?
- Do you want to generate awareness of your new brand?
- Do you want to build a large database of subscribers who you can re-market to?
- Do you want to provide resources and support tools to educate your customers?
- Do you want to provide a live platform for customer service?
- Do you want attract and recruit new employees?
Before you embark on your next website design endeavour, this time…do things differently. We urge you. Think about what the goals your website needs achieve for your business and whether you’ll be able to measure the success of those goals.
Does your existing website need a refresh or a rebuild?
If your website has been neglected for a while and you have now managed to find the time to do something about it one of the first questions you are probably asking yourself is, can I update what I already have or do I need to start from scratch with something entirely new?
A refresh is like reupholstering your old couch. If the basic structure is sound, you can make some changes in the content (the words and pictures) and end up with something fresh and usable for less than the cost of a complete redesign or a new website.
If there are real problems with your basic structure though, as might be the case if your old couch has broken springs, or if it wasn’t that good a piece of furniture to begin with, then reupholstering is just an added expense that won’t keep you from having to buy a new couch. You’ll still get some results from making those little changes, but you’d be better off investing in a complete redesign.
If you are unhappy with your website’s look but everything else meets your goals, a redesign is the best option. There is usually no reason to consider changing your CMS if the site is functioning in an effective and efficient manner.
A situation involving bad usability could lend itself to a full rebuild, depending on the scenario. Let’s say that the website is hard for people to use because the CMS is limiting your staff’s ability to easily implement changes or upload time-sensitive announcements to the home page. All of these issues might call for rebuilding the entire system your website is running on to make the usability easier for your team.
Ultimately, it’s worth taking the time to meet with a website designer to determine whether a redesign will help you accomplish your goals, or whether you actually need to start from scratch.
There’s two main ways to design a website – template and custom build
With the evolution of online website design templates, it has never been easier to launch your own website. All you need is access to the internet, a few dollars for domain name registration and hosting services, and voila – you can have your website up in 30 minutes or less!
Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, technically yes. But it’s important to remember that you’ll often get what you pay for.
Template websites do have a wide variety of functionality and features. From WordPress themes to more customizable drag and drop templates, you can do quite a bit with these templates, but they also come with drawbacks.
You don’t have nearly as much control as you would with a custom website, it can be difficult to make changes to the appearance as well as the code of the website. As your business grows, it’s likely you’ll need your website to perform more dynamic functions, such as secure payments or event registration. Even when such changes can be made, who is going to make them for you?
Perhaps the biggest drawback of having a template website — for a business owner who wants to stand out in their industry — is the fact that you may have an identical site out there. Does having a website similar to others in your industry provide a competitive edge?
On the other hand, when a web designer builds you a website from scratch, this is known as a custom design. Usually, this is when you work with a professional developer to build your website from ground zero. This requires a lot of knowledge about both front-end and back-end development.
Because the website design is built with your specific needs and goals in mind, it’s much more customisable and unique. There will literally be no other website like it, and it can tick all of your must-have features. It’s easier to add extra functionality and change the look and layout compared to a template website.
Custom built websites are ideal for many projects, but may not always be viable depending on your goals, timeline, and project budget. It is very easy to get side-tracked by dollars and cents when evaluating options for building your website, but the most important value to consider is opportunity cost.
Mobile friendly vs mobile optimised vs responsive website design
Regardless of the device a visitor uses to access your website — be it a desktop computer, a laptop, a smartphone, a smart TV, a tablet, or even a (very advanced) toaster — your goal should always be to provide that visitor with a stellar user experience.
If a visitor has to repeatedly pinch and zoom and scroll in order to read your website’s microscopic text or to tap on its awkwardly placed links and buttons, there’s a good chance that visitor is going to bounce from your site.
With more and more people turning to mobile devices as their primary means of accessing the web, ensuring that your website displays properly on mobile devices is no longer a “nice to have,” it’s a “must-have.”
You may have heard the terms “mobile friendly”, “mobile optimised” and even “responsive website design” before. You’d be forgiven for thinking that these terms are interchangeable. However, there are differences between the three.
Mobile Friendly Website Design
This refers to a website which displays properly on both your desktop/laptop computer and mobile devices such as tablets and phones. While your website pages will appear smaller on mobile devices, a mobile friendly site will be perfectly functional. Many web developers view mobile friendly as a “best practice” approach to website design.
Mobile Optimised Website Design
Mobile optimised websites are far more advanced in comparison to mobile friendly sites. They will detect what type of device is being used and automatically reformat to best display the website on that type of device. Larger navigation buttons, reformatted content and differently optimised images will appear when the user is on a mobile device in comparison to a desktop or laptop. This allows the user to more easily navigate a website and gives them a much better overall experience.
Responsive Website Design
The latest and most revolutionary form of website design to date is responsive design. Instead of detecting the device type being used, the website will automatically orientate itself based on the detected screen size. This approach allows for a high level of flexibility in the design through the ability to have a combination of automatic reformatting and re-optimising.
Talk to Crockford Carlisle about your Website Design
No matter where you are in Australia, Crockford Carlisle’s Brisbane-based website design team are here to help. We welcome your call on 07 3891 3800. Or you can click here to head to our Contact page and shoot us a message.
And by the way, that’s another thing you’ll notice about the way we work. You won’t get an agency ‘sales pitch’. Right from the first “Say g’day” meeting, the conversation will be about your business and what you want to achieve.
We’ll explore ideas. Look at your competitors. And see what we can see to set you on the right path. From there, if you feel comfortable with our approach, we’ll come back to you with a proposal to build the responsive, well-designed website you need that speaks to your buyers and convinces them to buy.
“Are you thinking what we’re thinking? Brilliant idea!”