Leading marketing experts agree that a company’s website design isn’t simply a part of its overall marketing strategy: it is an essential component of any business. A website design can make or break a company’s carefully cultivated image.
Forbes reports that a business’s website is the key feature of any successful marketing strategy. Marginalizing the website will most likely lead to the marginalization of the costumer. Web designer Joseph Putnam was inspired to elaborate on this tenet on a blog post after one of his clients asked him about the importance of web design or, specifically, why web design is so important. Putnam claims that he was unable to answer the question in any detail and, as a result, it inspired him to conduct research and firmly establish why web designing is so vital for the success of a business.
One document Putnam encountered during his research is a study called Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites. In it, researchers examined the levels of trust users developed when going on several health websites. The results show a distinct dichotomy between the content of the website and its design features. A whopping 94% of users claimed that they mistrust a website if it has poor design features whereas only 6% of users based their mistrust on the actual content.
The design features in particular that warranted the mistrust included complex layouts, pop-up ads, small print, bland coloring and symbols, and slow loading.
“First and foremost, your website has to be responsive,” says Clayton Thompson of MyNetWire. “The amount of website traffic coming from mobile users continues to climb. Many consider a website that doesn’t respond to mobile users old and outdated in our current web culture. I believe businesses will lose a lot of visitors in the future as a result of not keeping up the the trends, should their website not be mobile friendly.”
Although web design is very important, it would be a mistake to downplay content. Eighty-three percent of users surveyed in the same study claimed that content was one of the reasons why they trusted a particular website. The users favored content that was “informative, relevant, fresh, clear, and unbiased.” They also expressed a preference for age-specific content and “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) sections.
It is safe to assume that both content and web design should be stellar in order to satisfy customers. However, web design should be the first priority because, if anything, a poor web layout will deter users no matter how good the actual content is.
“Web design must be viewed through the lens of your entire business, or it will fall flat,” Darryl Stevens, web designer and CEO of digiTech, a website design and Internet marketing firm in Austin, Texas.
Outside of web design and content, marketing strategies must keep other considerations in mind. Search engine optimization (SEO), for example, is a commonly-used Internet marketing strategy that is directly dependent on both website content and design. Because of this, the website should be designed to accommodate SEO campaigns and should avoid elements that would deter them.
For example, parallel design, while providing short-term convenience for users, can be detrimental in the long-term. Parallel design refers to a webpage that scrolls down indefinitely. This enables users to access considerable content on a single page as opposed to opening several links. However, websites with parallel design aren’t easily indexed by search engines, which can create serious problems with SEO campaigns as well as general search engine inquiries.
It is also advisable for the website to be mobile-friendly. Mobile access can increase a website’s traffic as well as make it more appealing to the younger, tech-savvy generation.
In addition to the difference between web design and content, there’s also a key difference between web design and the company’s brand. The brand is ultimately not identical to the web design. However, they are related. Marketing researcher Jared M. Spool claims that a brand develops over time and that a business’s website design is one of the many perceptions that make up a brand.
“Brand elements, such as names, logos, tag lines, trademarks, and packaging, are shortcuts to those perceptions,” Spool said.