- A well-designed website is important for business marketing.
- A company’s website and logo design should communicate a message and make a good first impression.
- When creating a website, designers should consider visual appeal, easy navigation and search engine optimization strategy.
- This article is for small business owners looking to enhance their website’s marketing potential.
Your brand’s website communicates to potential customers whether your business knows what it’s doing or not. That’s why web design is important as a marketing tool. It highlights the need to invest time and resources into a well-built homepage so it doesn’t appear you’ve settled for a default theme or an overly simple layout.
Why website design matters
According to a study from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, a person’s eyes take 2.6 seconds to focus on a specific element of a webpage when it loads. The viewer quickly forms an opinion based on what they’ve seen, so it pays to influence that opinion with a smart design, said Adriana Marin, a freelance graphic designer.
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What to consider when designing a website
Based on tips from the experts who spoke to us, here are a few things you should consider when creating your website:
“People have [feelings] about your company based on the experiences that they have had with a brand,” Marin said. “A well-designed logo and website inspires confidence because it looks professional. If a company is willing to focus on creating a clean and functional design that is easy to use, then that could be an indicator of what using their product might be like.”
“Good design helps to communicate your message, pulls weight to cut through the marketing chatter, and arranges information most effectively for the precise market you’re trying to reach,” said Lilian Crooks, graphic designer and communications specialist at Harcum College. “Effective design and messaging work in tandem to convey the value of your business legibly and, most importantly, memorably.”
Ramon Khan, a freelance marketing consultant, explained that Google is making a big push for Core Web Vitals. He added that the company focuses a lot on intangible aspects of a website – such as how quickly it loads and how well formatted it is for mobile – which are all part of search engine optimization.
“The on-page content you’re utilizing and the keywords you want to rank for in SEO are significant factors to consider,” agreed Andrei Kurtuy, co-founder and CCO of Novoresume. “Prior to creating a website, conduct keyword research and organize your content such that each page caters to a single long-tail keyword.”
“When it comes to the design and aesthetic of a business, this is a prime example of the importance of first impressions,” said Annie Everill, digital marketing executive at Imaginaire. “Creating a strong, recognizable, and original brand identity is key in the success of a business – not only linking all your accounts together, but also forming a community feel for your team and audience. This brand identity can be present through a logo, website, layout, packaging, social media and graphics.”
Your landing page should set the tone for your company and provide important information, making it easy for your audience to understand what products or services your business provides.
“Figure out what the most important information is that you need users [or] customers to take away from that page, and make it extremely easy to find and understand,” said Christina Coviello, head of user experience research at Noom Inc. “Then identify the most important action you’d need users to take on that page and make it prominent and easily accessible.”
Particularly, Coviello suggests adding a purchase button on the homepage as a call to action. Whatever call to action you choose, it should engage your audience with your services or products.
Key takeaway: Your website design should prioritize simplicity over complicated strategy, with explicit and concise information, a clear tone, and a look and feel that is true to your business’s brand.
You might have a great story to tell, but no one will want to read your About Us page or explore your social media posts if you don’t immediately engage your audience. How can you accomplish this?
Cole Sletten, creative director at digital branding agency Ready Set Rocket, said strong visuals do the trick.
“An image can communicate even complex messages quickly, concisely and memorably,” he said. “It’s this same drive for fast consumption that has evolved the internet from its text-centric roots into an image- and increasingly video-centric [medium].”
Marin added that eye-catching visuals will set your brand apart from others. The imagery you use should be relevant to your brand and engage your target audience. When in doubt, she said, keep things direct and simple.
Crooks added that “stock photography and illustration looks like stock photography and illustration.” To avoid using the same visuals as another company, consider supporting local artists and designers to create unique, innovative designs.
“Monitoring your competitors’ websites can help you identify trending design strategies,” said Chelsea Cohen, co-founder of SoStocked. “An outdated website gives customers the impression that you either have an inactive online presence or aren’t interested in creating more convenient opportunities for them. Your competition will have insight into what attracts similar customers, especially if they’ve had a long-standing digital presence.”
Cohen noted that researching competitors isn’t the same as piggybacking on their site architecture or color scheme, but you can use them as a filter to determine which elements work. Exploring industry websites will also add to your site’s uniqueness.
Tip: Look at your competitors’ websites to determine trends that you might be missing.
Readability and usability
The biggest piece of advice experts give about designing a website is to make it easy to navigate and not give visitors – and hopefully future customers – too many options.
“The fewer options you offer per page, the easier it will be for visitors to choose and convert into customers,” Cohen said. “I recommend following the rule of three throughout your website. One element may be too few and lack enough detail to compel your reader to take action. But listing three elements at once is enough to create a balance and instill interest. Anything more risks overwhelming your audience and losing them altogether.”
Examples of the rule of three, according to Cohen, could be shortening your bulleted lists or designing a less complicated, three-tiered pricing model.
“Many users today browse the internet using their mobile phones,” said Jeff Zhou, CEO of Fig Loans. “With a limited real estate view, you need to make sure that visitors can easily navigate throughout your sites and find the information that they’re looking for. Just like how it functions on a web browser, your website should also function well on mobile devices.” [Learn how to optimize your website for mobile devices.]
Bottom line: Compelling, unique website design
When you’re deciding what your online brand presence should look like, remember that it’s important to be consistent, but not repetitive.
“The best brands … feel more like real, multifaceted personalities than collections of graphical elements,” Sletten said. “Think about the qualities that are unique to your business and that could attractively represent your brand. Then let those qualities drive your logo and website to your Instagram feed and even your storefront, packaging, and customer service.”
Jennifer Post and Nicole Fallon contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.