Some say a website makes it real, and to be honest, they’re not wrong.
When was the last time you looked up a business online only to find they didn’t have a website? Chances are, it was some time ago.
And, chances are when you found they didn’t have one, you became a little skeptical. We would.
A business that doesn’t have a website is like your “mechanic” uncle who services your car for a box of XXXX. They might get by for now, but they’re never going to see real growth without making it real (with a website).
The world of website design can be kind of intimidating though, especially if this is your first foray into digital. It’s incredibly hard to know where to start, and we’ve all heard horror stories of business owners being taken advantage of.
So, before you jump into finding a web designer, there are a few things you need to know:
- Common design industry jargon
- What makes a great website design
- What you need to get sorted before going to a web designer
Demystifying Design Industry Jargon
If you’re unfamiliar with the industry, web design jargon can seem like an entirely different language.
Though the best web designers will explain things in a way that makes sense to you, it’s still helpful to have a little industry lingo under your belt.
CMS (Content Management System)
The wonderful world of website design is full of acronyms like this one, so it’s a good idea to get your head around what they all mean before you get lost in a sea of letters.
Your CMS is the software application that manages creating and modifying your website’s on-page content. This includes not only written content, but imagery as well.
It allows you to have all of your content assets in one place, and make changes to the website in a user-friendly way, even after the website design is done and dusted.
You’ll hear designers and developers talking about these two terms all the time.
Front end is essentially all of the parts of a website that your customers can view and interact with, like imagery, design cues, content, and navigation.
Back end, by contrast, refers to the parts of the site your customers can’t see, such as the way data is organised and stored.
You can think about it like going to a restaurant. The front end is the area where you are seated to eat, as well as other customer-accessible areas like the bathroom, bar, and front counter. The back end is everything behind the curtain, such as the kitchen, storerooms, and back office.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
SEO is the process of improving elements of your website to boost your search rankings.
Whenever someone performs a search on Google, they’re presented with a list of results which are ordered by relevance. That is, the topmost result is what Google considers to be the most relevant answer to your query.
To improve your search rankings, SEO focuses on three key areas:
- Technical SEO | how your website is built (for example if a page is slow to load, users won’t stay on for long. Google doesn’t like this)
- On-page SEO | what is actually on the page (does your page content answer the query?)
- Off-page SEO | pages on other websites that link back to yours (if another website links to you, Google makes the assumption that your page is of high quality)
Above/Below The Fold
This term is a bit of a hangover from the days of print media. It comes from the way a newspaper is typically folded to present only some of the information when on a display stand.
Your website is kind of the same. Everything you see when you first land on a page is above the fold (the fold being the imaginary line on the web page). As the user scrolls down the page, they enter into below the fold territory.
Web designers utilise the fold to determine where to position information, for example, what message is going to be communicated above the fold, and what will be included below.
What use is having a website if it’s not working to generate you leads?
CTAs can be either images or short snippets of copy, that prompt the user to take some form of action. Examples of CTAs include “sign up here”, “get in touch”, and “download your free eBook”.
3 Components Of A Great Website Design
Good web design is about more than just making things look pretty, your design actually has a pretty significant impact on the way users interact with your site, and how effective it is.
When looking for a website designer, check out some of their previous sites, and make sure they tick these three boxes.
#1 // Is Simple And Painless
There’s nothing more detrimental to user experience than a website that is difficult to understand. Great website design will make this experience seamless by positioning content well and keeping the layout simple and easy to digest.
You don’t want your viewer to have to think too hard. Actually, you don’t want them to have to think at all. Strong website design will lead them where they need to go. Your navigation needs do the same. Though catchy page names can be cool and creative, sticking to your standard “About, Services, Contact” names can make it easier for users to find what they are looking for.
Simple design is also conducive to faster page load times, which is just what we want. Nobody wants to wait for more than a couple of seconds for a page to load.
#2 // The Website Is Mobile Responsive
Over half of all web searches are done on mobile devices today. That means you can expect roughly half of the customers clicking through to your website to be doing so from a smartphone or tablet.
If your site isn’t mobile responsive, then you’re at risk of losing 50% of your potential customers. A mobile responsive website is quite simply one that works well on a smartphone or tablet.
If you’ve ever tried using a dated government website on your mobile, you’ll know what we mean by a non-mobile friendly site.
#3 // Effective Content
If there’s one area where websites are commonly let down, it’s in the content.
You need to have enough content to make sure Google can index your page properly, but you definitely don’t want to over do it.
Nobody wants to scroll through pages and pages of copy. When someone lands on your site, you’ve only got a few seconds to impress them, communicate your key message, and evoke engagement.
That’s where effectively written content comes into play. It needs to be concise, snappy, and speak in a tone of voice that actually appeals to your target audience (which is harder than it seems!)
Get These 3 Things Sorted Before You Approach A Web Designer
#1 // Website Goals
What are you trying to achieve with the new site? This is especially important if you’re redoing an existing website: why is the old one not cutting it anymore?
Having a clear view of your goals will help guide your designer in any decisions they make when building your website. Perhaps you’re looking to generate more leads, or increase online sales of a specific product. Maybe the site simply needs to be informative, because most of your work comes through referrals.
Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s clear, and that you communicate it with your website designer.
#2 // Think About The Sitemap And Layout
Your designer will no doubt be able to help with this stage also. Still, it’s a good idea to start thinking about what the layout of the site will look like, how many pages you’ll need, and what you’ll be communicating on each page. This will also help with getting quotes from web designers.
An excellent place to start is by checking out some other websites (competitors or not) and come up with a list of things you like, and things you don’t like.
Typically, content writing isn’t part of a standard website design package. Neither is the creation of video and imagery. While some web designers do offer these services (like we do), some will expect you to supply all of the content assets yourself.
So, you’ll need to put some thought into whether you have these assets available, and whether you need to create them yourself or hire someone else to do it. This can also help in choosing a specific designer, as you may find yourself needing someone who also offers content writing services. Particularly with a focus on both SEO and Marketing / Sales.
There’s a lot to think about before you jump into bed with a website designer.
Firstly, you need to determine your goals, and decide where the content assets are coming from. You’ll also want to know a bit of the lingo you’re likely to come across. Then you need to go out and find the right designer for your business.
Hopefully, these marketing tips have given you a good foundation from which to start your digital journey. If you’re still finding yourself a little confused, why not give us a call? We’ve been helping business owners start their web design journey since 2006.
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