When a visitor is looking at your website, it’s really about everything that meets the eye.
Many people feel that having a website is enough. And the number of people who people who do not understand the importance of great design, is shockingly highly. In our experience, we found almost 99 people out of 100 did not approach design strategically enough to make the user experience unique and engaging.
We know our claim sounds incredible. But the easiest way to validate this is, if we ask you to count the number of websites you visit regularly. At this question, most people will start to count websites on the back of their hand. Some will start with Google while others will start with Facebook. And then delve deeper into websites or blogs that concern their individual areas of interest, work or study. An average user, will recall about 1 or 2 search engines that he or she uses, 5 or 6 social networking sites, another 5 or 6 e-commerce websites depending on whether they make purchases online, and approximately 30 more along genres of news, media, culture, literature or concerning their work. Give or take a few, the number of websites we can recall visiting regularly averages around 50. While some trackers have reported that there are more than a billion websites active presently.
This is the reason why we have search engines. And obviously, designing your website in a way that it’s easily readable by a search engine crawler is of utmost importance. But as a marketer or a business owner, you must already be knowing that 80% of your business comes from existing customers or referrals. And the cost of customer acquisition is really high.
Good design goes a long way into reducing the cost of customer acquisition. You need to generate visitor’s interest right after the moment he or she opens your landing page. And the landing page could be on any section of your website, depending upon whether the click through is happening as a result of a marketing campaign, search engine results and what the visitor is looking for. It is only after you capture the reader’s interest that things will move forward.
Many conversions will not happen during the first visit. Thus, keeping the visitor engaged, and making sure he or she becomes a returning visitor depends largely on the content of your website as well as the design. Good designing might appear to be a secondary concern, but the subtlety of the matter is strong, and it should not be neglected.
Design for Business
One of the most important factors while designing for business is to understand your market positioning. As a business owner or marketer, you would be having a fair idea about where your products and services are positioned, and what is your target customer segment. Communicating this precisely to your web design consultant is a great starter. If both of you are able to understand each other well, 80% of your concerns are already addressed.
Your design should communicate only as much you need to say to the customer before he or she takes the next step to pick up the phone, or send you a contact email. If you are running an e-commerce store on your website, you will need to do a little more – in terms of product description, reviews and recommendations. All of that gets covered under how socially centric your website is. When we are discussing design, you need to carefully create a balance between how much you are communicating, and the interest factor generated that makes a customer take the next step.
A great concern that is often overlooked by designers and strategists is, you need to focus on that portion of your customer audience, which is using the internet. It’s a fact that even after great internet prevalence, not all of your customers are flocking to your website just because they are searching for what you are selling. Hence, you need to focus on the needs and interests of customers who are already online, and will potentially be your customers. If you have successfully managed to cross 80% of the bridge with regard to understanding your product strategy, identifying what interest your target audience, then understanding what section of your untapped audience is online will cover another 10% of the journey.
The last remaining factor, and the most important one is, designing for the future. With internet growth centred around mobile, designing for mobile users will go a long way into designing for the future. In order to compliment a well designed mobile website, you can also choose to have a well designed mobile application. Depending on where you position your strategy, either of the website or the mobile app can prove to be a great starting point for new customers during the next few years.
Design for SEO
Search engines are increasingly more intelligent these days. And optimising for visibility on search engines requires knowing how they work, and avoiding mistakes that most marketers make. Tactics like keyword stuffing used by Black Hat SEO are easily recognised by search engines, and the engines can penalise your ranking if they find you are using such methods to increase your visibility on the engine.
When you sign on a web design consultant, especially one who is promising over-the-night success for your website, it would be good to ask questions around their practices for search engine optimisation. There is no substitute to great content. But where most developers will lack ability is fitting in the content with design that captivates user’s attention and keeps them engaged.
It is important to recognise that having a lot of traffic on your website, without being able to captivate visitor attention or converting them into meaningful business will be of no use. You do not want to have a website that has no aim. Many companies and organisations succumb to a digital media pitch, because the competition has established great presence in the market. Fact is, your profit & loss statement might not be feeling the heat from competition today, but if you are out there to fight competition, you might as well work to keep them at bay.
An interesting factor to note is, search engines are developing algorithms to understand the quality of service your website is delivering to visitors. In times to come, it will not be important for the search engine to know how many visitors read your website regularly, or the number of pages that provide back links. Instead, what will rise of importance will be the factor is – what did the visitor do after he engaged with the content on your website, and whether he or she left it as a happy visitor. We call this promoter index or promoter score. Basically, it helps you calculate the likelihood of your visitor recommending you site to others, and coming back for continued future business.
We continue this discussion in Part 2, with more information around the strategy of design, and how you can improve user experience in the new age by designing for mobile and accessibility, why it is important to do so and how you can improve your site’s content, visibility and improve trust among the visitors.