How much time should you spend working on the design aspect of your website? While there are certainly many good reasons to worry about the quality of your content or how well your site cooperates with social media, the unfortunate fact is that many developers make the simple mistake of overlooking the importance of simple web design. However, in a world where there’s no shortage of premium themes and one size fits all web templates, how much do we really stand to gain from standing out in our web design?
Two Effects of Great Web Design
It’s fair to say that there are at least two primary effects of great website design. The first and most obvious of these is the fact that good looking sites are nearly a prerequisite for anyone to convert traffic into sales leads. When it comes to a global internet marketplace, if your website can’t command the confidence necessary to get visitors to take whatever additional steps towards conversion, your content may be little more than an appetizer for business that will ultimately be done with your competition. This is why many websites proudly display their affiliation with major brands as well as their security and privacy guarantees at every available opportunity.
The second and slightly less obvious effect is felt through search engine optimization. What’s remarkable about good web design is that not only will it help visitors to build trust in your site and the content it provides, but it will also help Google and other search engines to pick out your site for higher page rankings. While a search engine has no direct means of measuring the value or quality of your website’s design, there’s an array of secondary metrics that can provide all sorts of useful information.
Why Metrics Matter
Whenever someone visits a site, metrics regarding their bounce rate, the time they spend browsing, how many pages they view, etc., can be accumulated and weighed against other visitors to give search engines a means of determining how well received any given site is. If the site is difficult to navigate, confusing, or otherwise lacks the content required to keep people engaged, search engines will take notice and your SEO could suffer.
Some research on web design even indicates that many visitors can make reliable decisions about a website in only a fraction of a second. Moreover, these initial judgments can alter or redirect consequent judgments should they continue to explore your content. What this means is that even if your site has the best services or products available on the market, initial impressions regarding the design of your site can be crucially important to not only determine if your site’s message is heard, but also how well it’s received.
Finally, remember that great web design isn’t necessarily the most expensive or elaborate, but it is usually the most engaging. It may come as surprise to hear that Craigslist, the 8th most visited website in America (at the time of this blog post), shares nearly the same webpage design that it did more than a decade ago. This notoriously graphic-light text-heavy site is perhaps the epitome of one of the most important principles of any type of design—form follows function. While elaborate graphics and dazzling multimedia may perform better than many alternatives, it’s important to keep in mind that often times the best web design is the simplest and most functional, especially if functionality is at the heart of the service your site provides.
Image Source: © HaywireMedia – Fotolia.com