Your website is more than just an information repository. Whether or not you recognize it, web design can make or break every facet of your online presence—traffic, SEO, branding, and conversion rates, to name a few.
Some would have you believe that web design is dead. That it's been replaced by templates and Facebook pages, and we might as well just accept it. While it’s true that there are many sophisticated platforms that allow you to build a fairly professional-looking website from a template—Wordpress, Squarespace, and Wix being the big three—we at Imagewërks reject the idea that quality custom web design is a dying discipline.
Web design is a cornerstone of branding and user experience and we have yet to see the template that can truly replace a professionally designed website customized to the needs of a specific audience. Users are more likely to point to design flaws than content flaws when citing why they distrust a particular website. That’s because when confronted with bad design, we don’t even make it to the content. We assume its quality matches that of the design and we click away before bothering to find out.
Since most brand discovery and research now happens online, your website will often be the first interaction a consumer has with your brand. Without overstating it, their experience on your site—whether it lasts 5 seconds or 5 minutes—will dictate the opinion they form about you and your services. If you don’t get it right and a visitor quickly clicks away, that’s a potential lead gone cold in its tracks.
Trust us when we say: You want to get it right.
The crux of digital marketing is to establish brand credibility that inspires trust with your audience, converting visitors into customers and turning customers into brand advocates. Using web design to create a positive first impression of your brand is step one of that process. Quality web design goes beyond the aesthetics of your website (though that’s important, too!). The complete potential of your web design encompasses the following:
Your website is not only a functional asset of your brand, but a powerful opportunity to communicate your brand’s essence. Don’t waste that opportunity on a dime-a-dozen template.
With custom design, any and every detail is an opportunity to add small embellishments that establish brand look, feel, tone, and voice. Everything from fonts to color schemes, to layout and social icons have branding potential. It should be apparent to visitors that they’re on your website—yours and no one else’s—no matter what page they’re on, even when your logo isn’t visible.
A great user experience ensures that your visitors can find everything they’re looking for with ease and speed. Not only should menus be clear and legible, but your site should be structured around a well-organized, intuitive site map for optimum navigability. Depending on the complexity of your services, this level of customization could prove difficult to achieve within the parameters of a template design.
Web design elements influence SEO in a number of ways. Search engines now reward responsive design so if your site isn’t designed to optimize across platforms, you’re limiting your SEO potential. Likewise, how well your site is designed and organized (in other words, the quality of your user experience) has a direct impact on bounce rates. High bounce rates indicate to search engines that your site is unhelpful and will damage your rankings. Not to mention that the architecture of your site itself dictates the ability of search engines to crawl and index your pages, also directly impacting search rankings.
Learn how customized web design could improve your search rankings and conversion rates.
There are two components to building credibility: you have to earn your audience’s trust, and deliver content that demonstrates your authority and expertise. If visitors recognize your site as a template, they may expect the same cookie-cutter quality from your services.
Even if a visitor to sticks around long enough to read your content, you’re still not out of the woods. Your design and content have to work together to establish your credibility. Quality content that is easy and pleasing to read with clear and actionable visual cues for where to go or what to do next will be the most effective at moving casual visitors further down your sales funnel.
Lastly, as important as it is, your website is but one piece of your marketing program. Your social media, email, content marketing, direct mail, advertising should all work in tandem with your website to deliver valuable experiences.
Is your brand easily recognizable across all channels, materials, and touch points? Are direct mail promotions linked to landing pages that are branded and trackable? Web design isn’t just the visual appearance of your company homepage; it’s one element in a deeply interconnected web of initiatives designed to support overall brand strategy and user experience.