Some years ago, the prevailing wisdom in business circles declared that any business without a website would be outcompeted and shunned by consumers by 2020. On the whole, this edict rang true as businesses were forced online due to declining trade in store.
“Only astrophysicists knew about the Internet 20 years ago. Today my cat has a website.” – Bill Clinton
Today, Bill Clinton’s cat’s website is horribly out of date – a relic of late-90s internet architecture which any web designer in Essex would be able to out-do on their lunch break. The focus for businesses serious about harnessing the power of the internet in the 2020s has to be upon impeccable website function and unbeatable web design.
Informed by the years of experience held by our web design company Essex, this article is your slow boat along the meandering river of web design, showing you which features our designers use at each important step of a user’s journey towards and through your website. These include:
- How a Website is Found: None of what follows matters if no one can find your website. Digital marketing will drive the right kind of traffic to your site.
- How a Website Loads: If your website takes more than a second or two to load, web users will flee like rats from a sinking ship. There are technical solutions to slow-loading websites.
- How a Website Looks: Your website’s aesthetics are the single most important factor in attracting or repelling visitors to your site. Make them beautiful to keep visitors on your pages.
- How a Website Speaks: This is all about branding and messaging. User Experience (UX) design is how you’ll communicate your key messages on your site.
- How a Website Works: The sitemap and functionality will draw visitors from your landing page to your products and checkout pages. Optimise these pages to improve your conversion rate.
- How a Website is Updated: A website is a painting on which the paint never dries. To avoid looking outdated and boring, periodic updates and maintenance are required.
Let’s not waste any time, then – here’s what you need to know about website features for Essex websites – as explained by a leading web design company in Essex.
“There’s so much great web content and design out there, but the ways in which they are being experienced are not being maximised.” – Dhani Harrison
How a Website is Found
Before a website is even experienced, it is first found. And when it’s nigh-on impossible to find your website, it may as well not exist. Our Essex web design team have long admired this piece of industry gallows humour from a few years back:
“The best place to hide a head body is Page Two of Google.” – Unknown
The message is pretty simple: no one is clicking through to page two on Google’s search results listings. It’s where websites go to die. Your website might be on page two (or worse) for one or more of the following reasons:
- Too few keywords on your website to show Google who you are and what your business provides.
- Poor Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) work on your website, demoting your site in favour of your competitors.
- A lack of meta tags, content labels and descriptions, and on-site media. The more of this you have, the more favourable Google’s algorithm looks upon you.
- Untrustworthy links on your website, suggesting to Google’s algorithm that your business might be a scam.
- A difficult-to-spell brand name, or a difficult-to-remember URL. Keep this as simple as possible to attract searches for your business name on Google.
“Domain names and websites are Internet real estate.” – Marc Ostrofsky
Don’t buy digital real estate where no one will be interested in visiting – and don’t choose a domain name that’s not memorable. These are key but often overlooked fundamentals in getting found (or lost) online.
All web design companies in Essex should also be able to perform basic marketing functions for you and your website. Our team of Essex SEO experts and Essex digital marketing specialists, meanwhile, are trained to perform the full spectrum of marketing duties for your website: from content creation to back-end code rewriting to enhance your SEO.
“You can’t expect to just write and have visitors come to you. That’s too passive.” – Anita Campbell
Last century, building a store on a busy street was enough to guarantee custom. Do the same in the digital world, and billions of web users can still pass you by as if you simply do not exist. Only a digital marketing agency Essex can begin drawing a portion of those billions of consumers towards your site.
And ideally, you want those to be the right kind of consumer. The average conversion rate for websites sits between 1% and 3% – a horrifying stat for those with low traffic to begin with. Using Essex SEO wisely should be able to both boost your traffic AND your relevancy, so you hit double-digit conversion rates on your site. Of course, this means bumper profits for your Essex business.
How a Website Loads
Until five years ago, the length of time that a website took to load wasn’t considered much of a problem. For the people who grew up with dial-up internet and browsers on the precursors of smartphones, the internet in 2015 was incredibly fast. But standards have since shot up – dramatically.
We’ve seen the same from our standpoint as a Essex web design company. Today, an amazing 99% of the country has access to the internet on a smartphone, and 98% use social media. Internet in the UK is ultra-fast. Seconds matter. Actually, split-seconds matter. Several studies have confirmed that four seconds is pretty much the limit for modern consumers. Anything over that, and they’re already off loading a different website.
“A bad website is like a grumpy salesperson.” – Jakob Nielsen
Nielsen has it right: just as you’d high-tail it out of a store in which you’ve been treated rudely, you high-tail it away from a website that doesn’t load – or loads poorly. One large-scale research report found that websites that are slow to load result in a staggering $2.6 billion in lost revenue per year.
Is yours one such website? Our web design company Essex are keen to bring your website squarely in to the 2020s, ramping up your loading speed while keeping all your juiciest content on your main landing page. To do this, we’ll:
- Use the right script embed and code language so that elements of your site load faster.
- Reduce the size of your image files so they look as good on phones and on desktops, but they require less time to load.
- Make use of web tools in the back-end that prioritise loading the top of your landing page before the content that’s off-screen towards the bottom.
- Recommend that you re-upload videos and GIFs that might be slowing the overall load time of your site.
In spite of the need to reduce your website’s loading time, it’s also the case that longer landing pages get more conversions – 638% more, to be precise. That means we’re always going to be trying to strike a balance between simplicity and piles upon piles of content – to net you the best ROI.
All these changes can be completed within a fairly short space of time by our Essex web design team – and the difference, in terms of your traffic, will be instantly felt.
How a Website Looks
This one might seem obvious. A pretty website can’t do any harm to your brand, and won’t push people off your site. An ugly website does the opposite. A really ugly one will be left, on average, before a second has elapsed.
Think this is all just anecdotal? The data bears us out: a whopping 94% of first impressions relate to the visual design of your website. After visiting once, 52% of consumers blame aesthetics for their not returning to a website. Certain studies and white papers have found that this is the single most important factor for your business website. You simply have to get it right.
“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” – Milton Glaser
Our web design company Essex knows the ropes where a website’s visual appeal is concerned – and we’re interested in creating a ‘WOW’ website – not a passable one. We do this in dialogue with you about the essence of your business and brand – and, importantly, the type of consumer you’re trying to target with it.
The philosophy we follow is similar to that of web design expert Gerry McGovern, who believes that:
“Designing a website can be a bit like being a kid and inheriting a sweetshop. It’s easy to get carried away. There are so many choices. A website can be like an attic that never fills up. Space is not the problem. Attention is.” – Gerry McGovern
In short: there are literally thousands of bells and whistles out there we could place on your website – in just the same way as WordPress has thousands of plug-ins. We can kit your site out with chatbots and pop-ups, prompts and buttons, animations and embedded social media scrollers. But really, we’re looking to create something spacious and visually appealing. We’ll do that by:
- Adhering to modern design standards set by the leading websites on the internet today.
- Discussing with you which websites you’d most like to emulate in terms of visual design.
- Using our knowledge of user expectations to tailor the look of your website to suit certain target demographics.
- Performing research on your direct competitors in Essex in order to ensure your site outperforms theirs.
- Making use of our best Essex web designers for each and every client that we engage with.
If the result of our work is something that gives the web user a breath of relief, encouraging them to slow down, explore your content, and flow naturally towards the pages on which you’ll convert them to a happy customer, we’ll have accomplished our mission.
And, of course, it goes without saying that better visual design means more conversions, a larger customer base, and a great return on your investment in our Essex web design skills.
“Design adds value faster than it adds costs.” – Joel Spolsky
How a Website Speaks
Can a website really speak? It depends who you’re asking. Any UX designer in Essex will tell you that every medium has a way of speaking to its audience – and that a website is constantly throwing out messaging to the end user; messaging that’s either persuasive or off-putting.
To control that messaging, you need a web design company Essex to help you think clearly and strategically about what you want your website to say to visiting consumers. Without this key insight, you’ll lose customers: 89% of consumers swap to a competitor if they have a poor user experience on your site.
“A website is a window through which your business says hello to the world.” – Amit Kalantri
When you’ve worked holistically with your Essex web developer team from the start, you’ll already have identified a target market in Essex. You’ll know who they are, what they tend to buy, and where their expectations are set. This is a brilliant start to help any UX designer to hit the ground running on your site. By and large, smart UX design will also:
- Manage your tone. The tone of voice on your website – friendly, professional, austere, bland – is the register in which you’re speaking to end users. Make that tone reflect your brand.
- Change your palette. UX designers are well aware of how colour influences consumers. Red equals passion, danger, and love. Gold, dark blue, and maroon are all associated with luxury. Your colours should express what your brand is about.
- Be a guide. Users don’t want to have to solve a Chinese puzzle to navigate your website. Make it as friction-free and seamless as possible to keep them right up to the point of sale.
- Optimise for mobile. Unsurprisingly, 65% of customers think better of a brand if its website offers a good mobile experience. If you’re not designing for mobile, your UX for mobile consumers will push them away from your site.
- Curating your content. The best websites have dynamite content that’s been smartly designed by professional graphic designers. The way that content is shared and presented will decide whether it’s read or watched – or skimmed beyond.
On this last point, it’s clear that consumers are now expecting high-quality video content on your website. 80% of consumers only read the headline of blog posts and articles on your website – ignoring the main text. But 80% will watch a video in which the text is spoken to moving pictures.
This is how you’ll share the essence of your business – in videos featuring sweeping shots of your restaurant, or a break-down of the fintech solution you’re selling to Essex expats. Our web design company Essex will help you curate such videos.
“No one comes to your website to be entertained. They have questions they think you can answer. Content answers questions.” – Jay Baer
All that said, never lose touch of what your website’s for. It’s a functional asset your business uses to build its customer base, market itself, and deliver sales. So how a website works is till a pretty important element in your web design Essex priorities.
How a Website Works
After all of the above, you’re probably feeling a little bit swamped in the details, the jargon, and the tasks. So we thought we’d round off this section with a back-to-basics guide to how your website ought to work. Stripped down, what’s your site’s purpose? Perhaps it’s:
- To get found locally. Around 90% of people use the internet to find local businesses. Listing yours online will generate you local custom.
- For your reputation. If you’re online, you’re regarded as trustworthy. If you have dozens of positive online reviews, that’ll tip the balance permanently in your favour.
- To outcompete and undercut. Other firms will have worse websites and higher prices. Some 40% of consumers check other outlets’ prices before making a purchase. Making yours the best will net you the customer.
- To drive sales. The bottom line for most business websites: being online means you should generate more sales. You should find ore customers, convert more customers, and encourage them to buy more of your products or services.
Whatever the core reason behind your investment in a website, you need to ensure it works. In the simplest terms, this means paying a subscription for your domain name – or buying it outright. It means paying for web hosting, which you’ll pay for monthly or annually. Your website will go offline if neither of these essentials are met.
Further, you need to invest in privacy and cybersecurity measures on your website. Too many are the cases we’ve witnessed of promising Essex companies failing to build secure websites – and suffering as a result. Our expert Essex web designers always keep your site’s security in the forefront of our minds.
“The power of a website comes from the people using it, not the people making it.” – Chris Edwards
Then there are the really simple functionality features we need to get just right on your website. People using your site want buttons to connect to the pages they expect them to connect to. They want pop-ups to pop up when they need them. They need payments to process smoothly, or they’ll simply leave your site.
Rest assured, whether we’re editing your current website, making you a new one, or starting your first website from scratch, our Essex web designers will pay close attention to all these features to ensure your website works perfectly.
How a Website is Updated
Finally, we’ve got just enough time to show you how important it is to have a web design company Essex to lift the hood on your website from time to time. We’ll not be checking the oil or the window washer fluid – but we will be tweaking your SEO, repairing broken links, and optimising new content uploaded on your CMS system.
”Web analytics is a fire extinguisher. Your website is on fire and you’re burning cash.” – Jim Sterne
Moreover, we’ll be delighted to give your website a little test to see how it’s faring in Google’s search results – and in terms of conversion rates. We’ll use web analytics – like some of the tools provided by Neil Patel – to help us form an idea of where your website can be improved.
That means briefly coming through all the stages outlined above once more. Is your website being found by Essex residents? Do you need a Essex web designer to improve your site’s aesthetics of workability? How fast is your site loading, and what’s the UX direction of its messaging?
Our web design company Essex is quick to locate and act upon the areas where we can improve your conversion rate – keeping it firmly in the double figures, which is likely to be significantly better than your UK rivals.
Get in Touch Today!
Whatever your budget, whatever your business, we’re interested in hearing from you. Drop us a line, pop us a message, or give us a bell to discuss, free of charge, what you might have in mind for your new business website.
We’re especially interested in building websites for new businesses – as the ROI you’ll receive once your site’s live is an instant shot in the arm for a startup that’s looking for its first foothold in the UK economy. As one of the principal thought leaders in web design, Amit Kalantri, has wisely suggested:
“In the information age, build a website before you build a workplace.” – Amit Kalantri
Today, a website proceeds a workplace. You create your social media pages before you’ve designed your brand’s logo. And you should get the ball rolling on your website as soon as you’re ready for Essex residents to find your firm online.