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What is the Most Effective Web Design Process?

Webpage building and software technology development

 

With approximately 200 million active websites currently on the internet, a professional-looking website is essential for attracting customers and generating revenue. Overhauling an ineffective website can help companies to increase their online traffic and outpace their competition. So what happens after a business has decided to create or redesign its website, and how can a company be confident that it’s a worthwhile investment?

 

 

What Should a Website Launch Checklist Include?

When a business decides to recreate or replace their existing website, they’ll generally hire a web design agency; most companies  don’t have the in-house expertise necessary to design a website, especially one that can attract new leads and generates sales.

 

Every web designer should follow a straightforward process when designing a  website and inform businesses about what happens at each stage of their development. This transparency ensures that the website is being developed according to its expectations, promptly, and within their budget. Although the web designer will take care of all the heavy lifting, the client's input is critical to successful website development. Depending on the scope of work, a redesign can take anywhere from several weeks to a year. A website launch should involve the following development stages to produce a successful and highly functioning website:

 

 

Illustration of website design process from the idea through startup, design and development, quality assurance, optimization, to publishing and launch.

Startup & Concept – The web designer will review what works with the existing website, what doesn't work, what the client wants to keep, and what the client wants to change. This stage provides an opportunity for the web designer to understand the client's vision for the new website.

 

Design & Layout – Through a thorough analysis of the existing website, the web designer can gather technical information about its key performance indicators. By determining where customers are most frequently lost on the site, compile effective keywords, and search engine optimization (SEO) to boost its online visibility. Often, a business website won't need a complete overhaul but will need to be adjusted using conversion rate optimization.

 

Development Phase At this stage, it's time to test out the new website's nuts and bolts. This phase should include code and browser testing and ensure that the newly-developed site can handle video, images, and text.

 

  • Template and Content Management System (CMS) Installation
  • Noindexing the Test Site
  • Building the Home Page and Interior Pages
  • Ensuring HTML, CSS, JavaScript Compliance
  • Migrating Existing Content to New Website
  • Optimizing for Mobile

 

 

Testing and Beta Phase – The nuts and bolts of the new website have been created, and it’s time to test it out. This phase should include code and browser testing as well as ensuring that the newly-developed site is able to handle video, images, and text.

 

Launch Phase Once the new website passes all of the web designer's various tests, it's ready to launch. The web designer will disable the website's maintenance mode and test its performance by using keywords to verify its ranking on search engines.  Suppose the web developer designed the website adequately designed. In that case, it will be much easier for potential customers to find on search engines when they type in the keywords that match the services your business provides.

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What are the Principles of an Effective Website Redesign

 

“[Design is] not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs

 

Whether the goal is to increase brand visibility or sell products or services, a website's design can make all the difference between a new conversion and a lost prospect. According to a study by  Dahal Sirjana, she found that a website visitor/potential customer will form an opinion about a website within 0.05 seconds. Meaning that if the website is poorly designed and not user-friendly, the user visitor moves on

 

Many factors impact the quality of a website, and most of them involve their functionality. A general rule of website design is that 'less is more.' In other words, a website with too many options, unnecessary features, and flashy visuals can overwhelm and distract a visitor from why he/she visited in the first place.

 

The most effective website designs are clean, simple, informative, and engaging. The website naturally draws the visitor's attention to the most crucial information on the page. Simple techniques with strategic use of white space tend to be the most universally appealing.

 

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Source: NeoMam

 

One of the most critical components of a useful website involves its ease of navigation. If a website is challenging to navigate and essential information is not easily accessible, a visitor will not hesitate to leave the page and perhaps never return.

 

We also have to consider what we know about common browsing patterns and natural human behavior. In particular, a reader's visual flow processes information in order of importance (from left to right and top to bottom). Extensive research shows that people will almost always browse in an 'F' shaped pattern that strongly favors the left side of the screen – the opposite is true for people whose languages read from right to left (Nielsen Group). This fact explains why some of the world's most visited websites (i.e., Amazon) prioritize their homepage's left side.

 

Images should be strategically placed and high-resolution, and content should be well-organized and easy to process. Vibrant colors trigger emotion, so naturally, they should be kept to a minimum and used only for 'call to action' or buttons. Since most visitors will skim a website instead of reading content in full detail, infographics are handy for maintaining the visitor's attention while also conveying information.

 

The Importance of Visual Content

Infographic created by Financial Services Marketing and Technology agency Gate 39 Media.

 

Since website visitors tend to skim content (and because their attention spans are likely to be relatively short), lengthy paragraphs are generally unproductive for a website. Instead, sections should be kept concise and broken up with strategic white space.

 

A website’s load time will quickly determine whether a visitor will be staying or leaving. In a large study done by Akamai Technologies Inc., roughly 50% of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. If the site hasn't loaded within 3 seconds, those users will generally abandon the site. Regardless of the earth-shattering brilliance, a business's website may display, visitors will not wait around as it loads, particularly when they can access a competitor's site faster.

 

What are the Signs of an Ineffective Website?

 

Ultimately, a website's effectiveness – or ineffectiveness – will almost always be tied to poor design. Websites that are not well-designed perform poorly in multiple capacities and have dismal Google Analytics metrics (i.e., high bounce rates, low time spent on site, low pages visited per visit, low conversion rates). A poorly-designed business website will inevitably result in lost prospects.

 

But perhaps more importantly, it could jeopardize public perception of the business itself. It only takes one negative experience with a business's website for the vast majority of users to never revisit it. The following characteristics are a strong indication that a website is not performing efficiently or effectively: 

 

The site does not immediately indicate the services/products that the business provides.

  • Visitors form opinions almost instantaneously – if the visitor is unable to find value in the site or justify their decision to stay, they will inevitably move on to a competitor's website. Likewise, a visitor must be able to find essential information quickly (mainly the business's contact information and calls to action)

 

The site is not mobile-friendly or is slow to load.

  • As previously mentioned, site visitors are proven to be impatient and require immediate access to information.

 

The site includes multiple internal links that open new browser windows.

  • Not only will these links steer a visitor away from the page, but they also make navigation more difficult and damage the visitor's online experience.

 

The site is not HTTPS (secure connection).

  • In the current era of high-profile data breaches and hacks, website visitors are overwhelmingly likely to abandon any transaction made over an insecure connection – studies have confirmed this.
  • A secure website is required if it requests any personal information whatsoever from a user.
  • Search engines will limit an insecure site’s visibility by pushing it further down the search results.

 

What Do Web Design Services Involve?

 

A knowledgeable web designer can translate the wants and needs of a business into a functional website design. Companies are usually aware of their objectives and goals. Still, they are often unclear about how to accomplish them online – a web designer's job is to present the business with the best website options for reaching their desired outcome.

 

Ideally, web design services will produce high-performance websites that provide a business with added value and generate profitability, regardless of the device or orientation used to access the site. In other words, the website should look just as appealing on a smartphone screen as it does on a 30" monitor. Web design services should also provide a business with the ability to manage their new site independently easily. For example, installing a user-friendly content management system (CMS) allows the company to update their online content without the web designer's assistance.

 

 

Designing a stunning website is only half the battle. A web designer must also ensure that this new website is easy to find and attracts the right audience. search engine optimization (SEO) achieves this objective because it primes the website for search engines through keywords, sitemaps, links, and content. In general, the higher the ranking that a website has on a search results page, the more visitors it will receive; naturally, more visitors will lead to more conversions. 

 

One of the essential services that a web designer can provide is ongoing responsive support – even after its launch – to ensure that the newly-designed website continues to be effective and productive for the business. Many web designers will also offer services beyond the website, such as email marketing, social media marketing, blog writing, etc. These services will help drive even more traffic to the website.