Quality Web Design: A Better Business Practice

Oct 22, 2015
In today’s world, having a strong online presence is a must, says Orange County online reputation management expert, Koz Khosravani of Digital Fusion Business Services. While many things go into developing online presence, the first step new businesses must take is in creating an initial website. Quality web design relies on a number of different factors. The most important thing to keep in mind when designing or having someone design a website is to put functionality over attractiveness.
Attractive websites provide appeal to visitors, however no one will stick around on your page if they cannot find what they are looking for. According to Internet Live Stats, there are almost a billion websites on the web. That means you can expect to have thousands of websites competing to provide the same information. Internet users want content fast. If they struggle to find it on your page, they will simply go back to their search engine and try the next link down.
The first step to make before designing a website is to figure out the exact target audience. The more you figure out who you are trying to talk to, the more you can tailor your website to appeal to them. Different audiences require different styles of websites, different types of writing, different content to draw them in. People looking for a new dentist, for example, want to know who they will be seeing, what services are available, what qualifications, credentials, and accomplishments the dentist can offer, current patient satisfaction, and contact information for the office. These areas of information should be easy to find and clear to readers. Extra content such as informational articles, photos, etc. can help make the website more attractive, but need to be secondary to the main information. If a viewer cannot find the key information because it is effectively blocked by too much or disorganized side content, they will go elsewhere.
Knowing your audience and doing research into what they look for on a webpage for your type of company should influence every decision you make. A great way to do research on how to set up your company’s page is to look through the websites of competitors. Taking note of what works and what does not work for their pages will help you make a more user-friendly website. Make sure to have outside people look over your website and provide feedback throughout the development process. This will show you what someone who is unfamiliar with your page thinks when they browse your website. Making sure to have people critique your website during all the stages of development will make sure that when you get to the end of development you have a great website. Leaving outside reviews until the end opens you up to having huge format issues that will be a headache to have to redo when everything else has already been finished.
Establishing a target audience also informs search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines rely on keywords and identifying relevant content. By understanding your audience, you can figure out what kind of keywords and information they might search for. Keywords should apply to features of your product, as well as local identifiers. Including city and state information will help grab people that are in your area. Attracting viewers that have an interest in your type of product does not do much good if they are too far away to act on your services. Specifying your target location will also define your website. Different areas of the country have different slang, different jargon. Some areas have higher populations of non-English speakers. If your company can work with other languages, make sure your website has options for those other languages. E-commerce sites are the exception to creating a local identity. E-commerce sites should focus their keywords and address their content nationally. For both e-commerce and local businesses, make sure to be informed about the different cultures of your area, especially cultures that are not your own, so that you do not end up accidentally offending anyone through your website. Unless your product specifically deals with controversial topics such as race, politics, or religion, do not include them on your website.
Koz recommends his clients find their USP – Unique Selling Proposition. What makes you and your company unique? Again, there are almost a billion websites. What is going to make Google locate your website and put it on the top page? What is going to catch the eye of potential clients? What will impress consumers about you over all of your competitors? Ask yourself these questions and really nail down what makes your product special. Maybe it is as simple as expertise and over-the-top customer service. Maybe your product can do something that has never been seen on the market before or maybe you have improved an existing product and taken it to the next level. Perhaps the advice you give has inspired people to do extraordinary things. Identify your USP and make sure it is the first thing people see on your page.
After you establish your target audience, designing the website is fairly simple. The first thing to keep in mind is that viewers scan websites for information, they do not take time to thoroughly read. Formatting your website so that it is “scan-friendly” will help your viewers find what they are looking for and help you by keeping them on your page. Initial large blocks of text are off-putting to viewers because it is harder to scan through for information. Pictures, bold text excerpts, hierarchical text, all help guide viewers through your page. Visuals make the most impact because they can affect emotions. Include videos for your clients because they work in three types of ways – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Most other content only works in one of those ways. The key points of your website should all be displayed on the main page because viewers will not take the time to dig through your website to find what it is about. Detailed information should be saved for separate pages so that the main page does not become too cluttered.
Based on eye pattern studies, viewers look over pages in what is called an “F” pattern. This means most of a viewer’s time in spent looking in the upper left corner of the page. Then they look along the top of the page before scrolling down. They spend the least amount of time on the right hand side of the page. Because of this, the main content of your pages should be focused around the upper left-hand corner with only minimal items places on the right side of the page. Information the viewer needs should be focused on the left hand side, while bonus features such as social media or archive links can be placed on the right side of the page.
Many websites follow the same formats to each other. While putting your own spin on a website is essential, do not be afraid to utilize common formatting techniques. People are used to dealing with websites in certain ways. Most of the time, when you mess with that system, people end up frustrated rather than impressed. Again, people want to scan through websites efficiently. The more a webpage aligns with webpages they are used to, the more they can quickly get to the information they want. However, when that format is changed, they have a much harder time finding your content and will likely leave your page. While sticking to common formats may seem limiting, there are actually a large number of options that can be created if you or your web designer are familiar with the most important types of formatting people expect. These can include:
•   Navigation buttons either on the top or the left side of the website
•   Main content on the upper left areas of the page
•   Easy navigation through the website’s different pages
•   Clear Links and Buttons
•   Immediately evident purpose to the website
•   Don’t make assumptions about your audience – requiring viewers to click a “green” button does not work if the viewer is color blind. Because you do not get to meet everyone who views your website, make sure it is accessible to anyone who might find it
•   Simple is best!
A new format of website has recently gained popularity – the parallax website. This formatting puts all of the website’s content on one single page. There is a navigation bar, usually at the top, which allows viewers to skip to sections they are most interested in. Viewers, also, have the option to simply scroll down through the website to see all the content the website provides. Parallax websites have become popular because they are great at providing select, focused information to viewers. Viewers get all of the information they need without bouncing around between pages and pages of website content. Parallax websites are also designed for big visual content and minimal amounts of text. Again, this is what most internet users are interested in. They want to understand your concept with as little reading as possible and are attracted to your website through compelling visuals.
Establishing trust and a personal relationship with potential clients is one of the best ways to convert them into actual clients. To help this, always include an “About Me/About Us” page on your website. This shows viewers you are (a) real person/people that can be trusted rather than a nameless, feelingless, faceless corporation. The “about me” page allows you to provide your website’s viewers with information about why you are particularly qualified to help them. List any credentialing, certifications, awards, etc. you have achieved. Feel comfortable including information about hobbies, volunteer work, and your family. This will further establish you as a “real” person and can create connections between you and your consumers. Include a picture or, even better, a video. People identify best with faces, so, show them one.
The “about me” page is also a great place to include testimonials. Whether it is on your “about me” page or its own page, testimonials and reviews are essential. People want to know other people have used your services and that those clients were pleased with your product. Especially in the current economy, people are careful with where they spend their money. Having other real people recommend you as a trustworthy business reassures potential customers that you are a safe investment for their hard-earned money. Video testimonials are ideal for your website. Again they utilize visuals, audio, and a semblance of kinesthetics to engage with people on multiple levels. Video testimonials provide a face to the testimony which helps to create trust between current client and potential client. The fact that your current clients are putting their name, face, and full reputation on the line to recommend you says a lot about your company.
Once you have your main website and content, defined and formatted, then the last step would be to setup a blog and social media sites. Links to these sites should be easily found on your main page, but not in any place too distracting. Again, the less-looked-at right-hand side of the page is usually a good spot for these links. Write articles and make blog posts with relevant content to your product and use your SEO keywords. Connect your blog to social media so your content is distributed quickly and evenly and place a blog on your actual main site, as well. This will keep your main site high in search engine rankings as search engines favor websites that are updated frequently.
One last thing to keep in mind from Digital Fusion Business Services’ president, Koz Khosravani: Be You! You created your business because you know you have something unique and special to provide. Now it is time to let everyone else see it too!