Check out our guest blog by Jock Purtle, Founder of Digital Exits.
Web design can be costly. Big secret, I know. And for most business owners, whenever they see a big price tag, they tend to shy away. But thinking web design isn’t worth it, or that it’s something that can be faked, is just one of the many all-too-common misconceptions about web design. However, this misunderstanding usually comes because managers can’t see the gains to be made from investing in web design.
We live in a digital world. Websites are the new storefronts. They are how most people will first come into contact with your business and brand, and they will affect people’s purchasing decisions. It’s important to view web design not as a cost, but rather as an investment that can help reap significant returns for your company. Not convinced? Here are five reasons why you can expect to get back the money you put into developing a top-rated website.
Like anything in life, the first impression you make with people matters, a lot. Sure, there will be time for you to bounce back if you start on the wrong foot, but if you make a bad first impression with someone, then you’ll be facing an uphill battle to get back in their good graces.
If someone lands on your site and it’s hard to navigate, looks unprofessional, or worse, doesn’t work, then they will begin to form negative associations about your brand you’ll struggle to overcome. Future promotional content might not resonate as well, or you may have a hard time driving traffic to the site with your newsletter or social media. On the internet, you only have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention. Not investing in quality layout and design can cost you visitors, which in the end will cost you money. On the other hand, a sleek, professional and easy-to-use site will draw people in and get them clicking around your content.
This one should be reason enough for any business owner to pay attention to design. While Google doesn’t directly measure or rate your web design, several of the key metrics it uses to determine search engine ranking depend on your site’s design.
For example, Google uses time on page and bounce rate to help determine the quality of your content. And while you need to have good content to help improve performance in these areas, design helps a lot too. We’ve all clicked onto sites that look messy or unprofessional and immediately clicked off. Even if the content is great, it doesn’t matter. We’ve convinced ourselves it’s not credible and moved on, and Google will take notice when this happens.
Google also cares about how your site looks on mobile phones. Not optimizing your site for mobile platforms is SEO suicide, something a lot of companies learned the hard way a few years back when Google introduced this into their algorithms—a day known as Mobilegeddon. Mobile design can be costly, sure, but the return you get in the form of improved search engine performance is well worth the investment.
Design Affects Conversions
Good web design does more than just make your site look good and present your business in the best light possible. It can also have a dramatic effect on how people move around on your site, and this affects conversions.
Placement of calls to action (CTAs) and visual hierarchies are important for funneling people to the right spot. You want to make it easy for them to find out where and how they can spend money, and this is all design. Sure, your sales copy might be what causes them to finally pull the trigger, but without good design leading people to the right places on your site, this copy will be far less impactful and will cause your conversion content to underperform.
The internet has come a long way. Many of us can remember when things went so slowly that you could click on a page, get up and get a cup of coffee, and then come back just as the page finished loading. But many more of us do not have this memory, and the possibility of it makes us laugh. The takeaway: your site needs to be fast, or else. And it needs to work.
When someone lands on your page, they expect to be able to move around it easily and quickly. And if they run into “404 Not Found” pages, then forget about it. You’ve already lost them.
Delivering a good user experience comes from having a quality backend design. Hiring a professional to come in and make sure everything is working correctly and at full speed is absolutely essential. It helps improve the overall customer experience and makes sure people stick around on your site long enough to get to your conversion content and eventually make a purchase.
Last, but certainly not least, web design affects branding. Building a strong brand requires a comprehensive approach, but there is no one component that matters more or less than the other. You may have great messaging, but if your color schemes and layouts are off, then this messaging will be less impactful.
Good design can help to reinforce the brand messaging you’re trying to communicate. It can help people generate positive associations about your brand. Then, when they come into contact with your content, they will absorb it more readily, and it will have a greater impact on their purchasing decision.
Strong brands tend to make more money, and they also make companies more valuable, something of interest to those considering selling their business. Web design alone won’t execute your branding strategy, but it’s a critical component, and it’s an investment you should most certainly make.
Investment Today, Reward Tomorrow
Investing in quality web design simply makes good business sense. It’s important to note, though, that you won’t see results right away. It’ll take some time for Google to register your changes, and for you to see a noticeable change in user behavior. But it will happen. Invest wisely today, and you’ll experience great rewards tomorrow.
About the author: Jock is the founder of Digital Exits, an online brokerage service that specializes in the buying/selling and appraisal of online businesses. He is an expert in the valuation of small to medium internet business, and through this work, he has learned the various different things that make online companies successful. He likes to write about his experiences to serve as a resource for other business owners. Some of his work has been featured in publications such as CNBC, Forbes, Business Insider and Entrepreneur.