With the New Year now firmly place, many business owners could be looking at their websites and assessing whether everything’s working the way it should.
Design plays a crucial part in how customers, visitors and users engage with a website and subsequently, your brand, products and services. That’s why hiring the right web designer is a cornerstone of your marketing strategy.
To get things in perspective, here are some interesting numbers:
- Viewers take a mere 1/20th of a second to decide whether they like a website
- They form aesthetic and value judgments of a design within 17-50 milliseconds after being first exposed to it
- More than 60% of users report that a poor user experience (UX) can erode their perception of a brand
- The first impression about a website is based on design in 94% of cases
- Small businesses fail to give clear calls to action in 70% of cases
- More than 60% of visitors would not like sharing personal information on websites
- Just one poor UX would prevent 86% of users from re-visiting that website
- More than 80% of visitors report that being treated “as a person” and not a number is crucial to doing business with that brand
In short, if your website isn’t designed well, it could impact your bottom-line, reputation and your plans for growth and expansion.
Elements of Great Website Design
Websites are intended to play an informative, creative, functional and transformative role.
What is it that distinguishes a great website design from a mediocre one or a bad one?
Matters of design and aesthetics are in a large part highly subjective, and may follow prevailing trends. They’re governed by technology and the nature of product/service/function that they espouse.
But visitors and users somehow instinctively do recognize the difference.
Web designers inhabit a world that’s in a state of constant flux, with dramatic changes in complex architecture, tedious and rigorous testing regimens, and advances in technology and user preferences.
Design elements and the overall look and feel of the website can impact your overall presence on the web, your brand, reputation, loyalty, search engine rankings and also your customer’s perception of your products and services.
Must-have elements of website design:
- Tech expertise: Today, the line between designers and developers has become increasingly blurred and there is huge cross-pollination. Your website designer needs to have a strong understanding of tech. Otherwise even the best award-winning design would fall flat when the technology that drives it is below average. Slow loading speeds can ruin the UX and cause visitors to move elsewhere, uptime guarantees can ensure that your site is up 100% of the time, freedom to add movement/innovation, interactive/responsive design etc. are the backbone of overall good UX.
- Simple navigation: Users appreciate a smooth, easy and efficient journey through the website. Simple and clean navigation will help them to funnel through swiftly and have a memorable experience.
- Clean, uncluttered look: Avoid loud color palettes, crowded screens, annoying pop-ups all over the place, banners, star-bursts and noise. Use white space judiciously.
- Great content: is the mainspring of your website and is responsible for higher rankings on search engines. It offers information and education, and is the principal reason why a visitor arrives on your site. Fresh, original, reliable and authoritative content yields strong links and social media connect. The information should be easy to access and clearly placed. Leverage the power of videos, audios, ebooks and explainers, whitepapers, opinion pieces by authority figures, news and happenings in your industry, etc.
- Findable: No matter how great your design architecture and how amazing your content, unless your website can be found on the net, the whole effort would be futile. Ensure that your website ranks high on the search engines through the use of SEO, good-quality links, social media, email marketing etc.
How To Hire The Right Website Designer?
Needs Analysis: Get your team, important stakeholders and people who matter to brainstorm on the question: “What do I want my website to do?” You would come up with a host of answers such as
- it makes me look professional
- connects me with the business eco-system
- helps me attract/retain customers
- it’s a showcase for my products/services/brand
- helps me establish my credentials and role in industry
- it is an affordable marketing tool
This helps you to establish the function/role of your website in your marketing strategy so that you can convey this to your designer.
- Firm up on: Style, personality and character of your website. Know your target audience and demographic. This helps the designer to choose color palette, design elements, content, etc. Get a buy-in from your marketing team as they can provide valuable inputs and insights.
- Begin the search: While the easiest thing to do is to Google for likely candidates, it’s a smarter move to select a designer recommended by trustworthy sources. With communications across the globe so easy today, you have access to millions of designers. But would you be comfortable with remote working? Or would you rather sit across a table and discuss?
Local designers can give you enormous value and it’s simpler and easier to communicate with them. Envy is a great motivator! Look at your competitors’ websites and figure out what you love about them. You can contact their designers too. Firm up on budgets and how much time and effort you’re willing to invest on the project.
- Design map/draft: Get down to brass tacks by firming up on number of pages, buttons, social media links, calls to action, headers, menus, contact information etc. This helps the designer to give you an estimate on pricing, time, effort, etc.
- Keep a list of questions handy: interview your designer as you would a potential job-seeker. Some questions you could ask include:
- Show me an example of your best work (ask for real-time sites and not just screenshots)
- Whom will I be working with? (important when you hire a design company)
- Do you outsource work? To whom?
- What’s your communication style and frequency?
- Suppose I dislike the design, would you be open to revisions, requests, adaptations, etc?
- What is your opinion on UX?
- Are you familiar with social media and responsive/intuitive design?
- Contract: Ensure that there is an expectations match. Establish the ground rules about communications, deadlines, drafts, budget, testing, etc. This will smooth over the administrative stress and road-blocks.