Good website design has always mattered, but in our digital age where users take just two tenths of a second to form a first impression, having a website that is well designed and engaging is crucial.
Whilst web design was relatively siloed in the past, it’s getting more and more attention from execs. As digital experience branches out and becomes an integral element in the customer journey, UX and website design need to work hard for businesses. Now, the wider business community is entering the design space and putting their stamp on things. Similarly, web designers are having to pay closer attention to the evolution of the digital experience and incorporate them into various design elements.
So, why does good website design matter?
1. Web design impacts brand perception
Websites are often the first interaction potential customers will have with your brand. This means it can be make or break when it comes to brand perception. Quality web design is so important that 75% of people base a company’s credibility on their website. Your potential customers are literally judging your brand based on what your website looks like, and it can undo a lot of hard work across your other marketing channels.
That’s got to be worth using a great web design agency, right?
But it isn’t all about looks. User experience (UX) and navigation are integral to establishing trust. If a user can’t find what they’re looking for easily, they’ll soon click away and explore one of your competitors’ sites (which might have a better layout). Poor navigation and UX often suggests poor products and services in the mind of a customer.
Working with an experienced web design agency that can offer knowledge and expertise, as well as an understanding of business goals and audiences, can have a hugely positive impact on your brand.
2. Integrating accessibility features opens up opportunities
Thinking about the accessibility of a website is crucial to design, and if you skip it you could be cutting out a large group of customers. A good web design agency and design team will not only know the importance of accessibility, but will understand what factors should be considered and have experience in developing creative solutions.
Not incorporating accessibility could have large repercussions. 1 in 12 men are colour blind – if you’re not using the right colours or shades you could be excluding a large group of potential customers! Many people also rely on screen readers and accessibility modes on websites to help them online. These modes allow users to easily re-size and re-colour websites so that they can access the content comfortably and read text on various devices, including mobile.
If in doubt, take a look at the UK Government’s guide to accessibility and ensure your web designers and website developers understand accessibility needs.
3. Web design impacts SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) might seem like a mystical beast that no one truly understands, but it’s easy to see that good website design and site structure can have a big impact on your SEO.
Google and other search engines need to know what your headlines are, what to focus on, whether your content is trustworthy and has authority. For your page layout, particularly your homepage design, look to Google’s E-A-T model – Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. Demonstrate those three things on your web page and in your content and you’ll find yourself in Google’s good books.
Other factors to consider when it comes to web design and SEO are responsive design and page speed. Sites now need to work across multiple devices – from tablets and mobile, to laptops, desktops and even TVs, so you need to have a responsive website. Make sure your site looks amazing and works perfectly across all devices. Similarly, think about how quickly your page is loading and take a closer look at your pagespeed insights.
4. Quality web design has a longer shelf life
Whilst a quick template or the latest in design trends might be tempting, good quality web design will look to the future in a way that many templates simply can’t. Of course, technology is always updating and is in flex, and a site that you build now won’t necessarily be right for your business (or its purpose) in 10 years’ time. However, a web designer who knows their stuff will have foresight of upcoming advancements such as 5G and voice search, the developments of social media, and their impact on websites and relevance businesses.
Take 5G, for example. That super speedy connection will allow designers to create amazing websites that aren’t impacted by page load times. It might then seem easy to get carried away and put five HD videos on every page, but just because you can it doesn’t mean you should! Good web design will find the perfect solution for your business goals and the technology available.
5. Website design tells a story and connects with audiences
People are emotional beings, and they find connection through stories. As Muriel Rukeyser said, “the universe isn’t made up of atoms it’s made up of stories”. If your business is looking to connect with audiences (which it definitely should be), you should be using website design to tell a story.
In Made to Stick: Why Come Ideas Survive and Others Die, a case study showed how storytelling leads to better memory recall. Eight students were asked to give a one minute speech, then rate each other. The most charismatic speakers scored the highest, but when the audiences were asked to recall key points from the speeches very little was remembered of the charismatic speakers. The speeches that involved storytelling, however, were remembered. 63% of people remembered stories, but only 5% remembered statistics.
Despite this, many brands and businesses are not speaking to their customers in their website design. They’re talking about what they do and what their offerings are, but they aren’t speaking in the language of the user. Through smart web design, users can be informed of these things but within an engaging and creative storytelling context (through things such as layout, images, videos, graphics etc.) – leading to greater memory recall of your company.