Web Design: Covering the Basics5 min read

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Web design is an essential service for any outward-facing business. If you want a profile, whether within your local community, nationally or even internationally, then these days, you need a presence on the Internet. But you need that presence to be an effective one. You have mere seconds – or less – to grab the attention of the online browser who’s looking for a company to supply products or services. So it pays to employ professionals to put together an eye-catching website that inspires trust and confidence in your audiences and potential customers. This article looks at some of the basic principles of good web design, and why employing an experienced agency will pay dividends.

Taking it back to basics, four key areas should be addressed when it comes to identifying what effective web design should look like. The first is the site’s structure. It’s essential that your website is easy for your would-be clients to use. Anything less than straightforward, clear and concise and chances are, you’ll lose a large proportion of visitors straight away. A good UX agency will, therefore, place emphasis on ease of use and simple navigation; to take the user to the information they’re looking for in as short a journey as possible.

The second factor is speed: Internet searchers can be both inpatient and time-poor. Any delay in pages loading or images appearing is likely to result in lost business. Web designers know all the tricks of the trade to keep your site agile and quick to respond.

Thirdly, you are definitely missing a trick if your site is not designed to be mobile-responsive. The use of smartphones and tablets to search the net now exceeds desktop or laptop use. If your site doesn’t present properly to viewers no matter how they’re accessing it, you’ll certainly lose potential custom.

Finally, clear calls to action, prompting users to take the next step, are also a must. Any good web designer will have strategies to inspire customer engagement.

So you have the basic architecture of the site in mind. Now it comes to the nitty-gritty: what information do your customers want to see when they visit your website? There are numerous factors for you must think about here. Obviously, you want people to understand what you are offering them from the outset. Your homepage should be transparent about what you provide and what makes you stand out from the competition. It doesn’t need to go into the minutest detail – less is often more. But talk in general terms about the products and/ or services you have on offer and provide clear links to other areas of the site where more information is available.

Another essential in terms of business web design is clear contact details. It’s a relatively easy way to engender trust, by providing a few ways potential customers can contact you. Include a phone number and a physical location if at all possible: these mark you out as a credible – and real – business. If you’re involved in e-commerce or take any money at all through your site, then SSL – a system that encrypts sensitive data such as credit card information – is essential. Have it, and tell customers you have it, for their security.

So now, you’re beginning to pull together a site that will be easy for users to navigate through and informs them of your company’s unique value proposition. It’s known from research, though, that website viewers’ attention is grabbed – and more likely to be held – by images than by large volumes of text. That’s, in part, where graphic design comes in. Isn’t this as simple as loading up your company’s logo and shoving a few photos on each page, though? Unfortunately not, images must demonstrate strong relevance to the text they illustrate. Otherwise, they’re confusing at best; misleading at worst.

Does your company logo tell customers what you do and effectively communicate your brand messages? Do the images on your homepage either pique curiosity or closely illustrate the text that surrounds it? If not, they’re more likely to switch readers off than entice them to find out more. A graphic designer will advise on these matters and also on the best fonts, colour schemes, icons and so on to use to enhance the overall look and readability of your website. This can assist in creating an impression of professionalism, trustworthiness, and reliability: all vital characteristics of a company people will want to buy from.

These days, there is a multitude of online tools and tutorials out there for the talented amateur to put together a website hosting a personal blog; or even for a cash-strapped start-up to get themselves a presence on the Internet. These certainly serve their purpose. But if you are a serious company in the business of selling either goods or services, then a critical factor for your success is building trust. Any sign of amateurism on your website may well discourage potential buyers from taking a chance on you. What you need is a web design that is sleek and lightweight, yet delivers all the important messages. It must be stylish, well ordered and highly functional; easy for new users to navigate around, find the information they need, and make a purchase or get in touch with you. If your website is not achieving this at the moment, it is definitely time to call in the professionals and make some changes.

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