Website design can be a tricky topic for many business owners.
Of course you want a great website that showcases your products or services and portrays your company’s image appropriately. But with the dozens of options available today, how do you choose the web design approach that’s best for you and your organization?
Before you make that decision, let’s consider the relative importance of how your site looks. Remember, you only have one opportunity — and a brief one, at that — to make a first impression.
Your website has only a second or two to engage new visitors and inspire their trust. In fact, some research shows that website visitors form an opinion in only 50 milliseconds!
In website design, credibility is extremely important. It’s just as important — more so, in fact — as it is with a brick-and-mortar office, retail store or service business.
Imagine if you walked into a shoe store and saw peeling paint and dingy, green shag carpet. Maybe the sign over the door said it was a shoe store, but upon looking around, you couldn’t find the shoe displays because they were around the corner and behind a curtain.
It’s no different in the online world.
Research tells us that despite the location or culture of your customers, whether you’re marketing to end users or other businesses, trustworthiness is the key determinant in how the customer makes purchasing decisions.
Stanford University has performed extensive research into the issue of website credibility and found that most consumers evaluate your business initially based on the visual website design alone. This includes aspects of layout, typography, images and colors.
If your website design metaphorically conjures images of peeling paint and old carpeting, your prospects will not hesitate to escape. They’ll hit the next search result and take their business to the nearest competitor who has a fresh coat of paint.
Even if your website appears fresh, trustworthy and user-friendly, you won’t have long to prove yourself to a new prospect. The Stanford research also demonstrated that the website design also must be appropriate for the company’s business model.
Professional photographers or artists, for example, are expected to use website design that befits their artistic endeavors. But customers expect a law firm or computer consultant’s site to reflect a more conservative tone to match their business model.
Choosing a DIY website design template or theme that isn’t appropriate for your business model will compromise the value you can gain with a more appropriate site design.
Today’s website designs focus on the user’s experience when visiting your site.
A great user experience, or UX, creates the specific emotions and mental processes that motivate your prospects to purchase. Psychologists have studied the process of mental models, which are the common patterns of interaction that humans have with computers. A visitor’s mental model determines what he or she believes or perceives about your business while interacting with your website.
The important distinction here is that visual aspects of website design are the basis for the user experience. Unfortunately for business owners, mental models are not universal.
Identifying your key customer demographics not only helps you offer the right products and services to increase your market share, but it also ensures that your website design meets their expectations.
Younger internet users, for example, prefer a minimalistic or flat design user interface. This simplistic approach to web design inspires a higher level of trust in a demographic that is put off by perceived corporate excess.
So if your ideal prospect is in the 18-to-25 age bracket, this might be the right way to approach your site’s design. If your targets are seniors, however, a flat user interface design may shoo them away in a hurry.
Both older and younger adults are in agreement about the adjectives they use to describe sites they judge to be trustworthy and credible. Those include professional, impressive, fresh and familiar. So no matter what your business model, you’ll earn loyalty and purchasing decisions by focusing on website design that conveys those concepts.
Even as little as a decade ago, getting your company’s website up and running took a lot of time, effort and resources.
It required finding a designer, communicating your ideas and needs, and waiting around to see what the final product looked like. Unfortunately, because programmers and coders aren’t all competent designers, you were likely to end up with a functional site or one that looked really great … but not both.
And chances are, it cost you a ton of money either way.
Fast forward to this decade and you’ll find that the process has become much easier and more affordable. However, despite the technological advances in web design, form hasn’t improved nearly as much as function.
The reason for this primarily lies with the many drag-and-drop apps and interfaces that promise the novice a stunning DIY website design in a matter of minutes. Although these can be ideal for personal websites, design and functionality are severely limited. The user can typically only choose from a few templates and color schemes, with little or no opportunity to customize layout or design.
If the DIY site design approach isn’t for you, you can hire your brother-in-law or your neighbor’s teenager to build your website. You won’t have to do the work yourself that way, but you will have to pay for it. Because these amateur programmers likely lack any up-to-date knowledge about site optimization or graphic design principles, however, you probably won’t have any better of an outcome.
The alternative is to use the services of a professional internet marketing and website design firm.
Although a DIY website app might seem like a cost-effective approach for your business, consider the long-term implications as well as the short-term use of resources.
If professional website design will help you attract and convert more prospects, it will quickly pay for itself in conversions, while helping you increase your market share.
Internet marketing and web design professionals have an in-depth knowledge of the psychology behind the user experience, user interface and the visual aspects of design that attract your customers. They ensure that you don’t hide your inventory behind a confusing maze of digital walls, and you’ll never have to worry about the virtual equivalent of peeling paint or ugly carpet.
Unlike just a few years ago, this approach won’t cost you a fortune. In fact, you might be surprised by how affordable professional website design truly is today.
With a professional web designer, you won’t have to waste your evenings and weekends learning about mental models or the psychological principles of web design for your demographic targets. Ultimately, you will be assured of a site that your prospects and customers will perceive as credible, trustworthy and easy to use.
Be Locally SEO, Utah’s trusted SEO leader, specializes in professional site design and optimization, using a proprietary system of SEO strategies. Contact us today to learn more about the importance of first appearances and visual elements in your business’s website design.
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