Good website design is a crucial consideration for all businesses that wish to trade online. It’s the first point of call a customer has with a company or a brand and therefore, it needs to create a positive and lasting impression. The website has to be engaging, relevant and capable of communicating the values and ethos of the company it represents. A recent survey by Marketing Week which looked at corporate attitudes towards design, found that nearly two-thirds of the business they spoke to will be investing in website design in the coming year: compare that to the 22% who will be investing in logo design, and the 39% in product design. Good website design is fundamental for business success. So who decides what good website design is, and what isn’t? What makes some websites work better than others?
Why is the user experience important?
Without regular users, websites become redundant. They are designed to attract traffic, and if they fail to engage the traffic that does visit, then they are failing in their duty. The user experience is a sort of holistic concept, where the overall value of the visitors’ experience is a sum of all the parts. In other words, it isn’t simply about providing depth of content, so much as providing useful content, functionality and a depth of services. Anyone can provide lots of content, but it’s less than useless if that content isn’t germane.
Don’t be afraid to try different ways of navigating around the website. Good website navigation encourages visitors to explore the site: let your visitors experience imagery and editorial content as well as the shopping pages. You could even consider using alternative forms of navigation, such as hot spots on images, tag clouds and overlays.
Make the editorial content of the website easy to find and make sure it’s relevant to your company/brand. The best way of creating ‘relevant’ content is to put yourself in the shoes of your reader: think about what users would want and how and when they would like to receive it. Content may be king, but if it can’t be found easily, it’s wasted.
Social integration through the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is vital in building a vibrant and engaging online community. More than 600 million people are now registered users of Facebook alone. Part of a websites job these days is to establish the brand and help build a community around it, so make sure that what you offer is compatible with these social media platforms. You need to make it easy for readers to ‘like’ your brand, or tweet in response to an article or piece of information you’ve uploaded to your site.
Figures recently released show that over 50% of users use their mobiles to help them make a decision about shopping and then make an order using them. It’s important therefore to optimise the content of your website so that it is suitable for a number of different platforms, like mobile phones, iPads and other mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimised, you could be missing out on a significant section of the market.