Visual Design is Just the Tip of the Iceberg in Web Development
While the visual design and aesthetic of a website is often noticed first, there are many equally important factors working just below the surface that also play a vital role in the “success” of an organization’s website.
Make no mistake, design does matter! It’s important that your website visually sets you apart from the competition and helps to form a positive and respectable impression in the minds of your visitors. Users will land on your website and will often form opinions about your organization based primarily on design and aesthetics of your website. Research shows how quickly users form those opinions and it concludes that it takes merely 50 milliseconds—the blink of an eye—for visitors to form either positive or negative opinions about your company, business or products. Furthermore, studies found that 75% of users admit to making judgments about an organization’s credibility based solely on the design of their website.
But design alone isn’t enough
Beautiful, differentiating design—while essential—is only one of many essential components of a high performing website. And while the design of a website often receives the most energy and emphasis from our clients during the development process, it’s important to view the website through a holistic lens. The design of a website is only the tip of the iceberg, and there are many other important factors to give attention to.
But design alone isn’t enough
It’s not an overstatement to say that the only reason people visit your website is the content. While design can and should support the content and lead to a positive user experience, it’s important to remember that people are there for the content. A well-designed and attractive website without the right content might look nice, but it won’t meet the needs of your users.
With that in mind, your website needs first and foremost a content strategy and well-defined information architecture. This involves an in-depth understanding of your target audience and key stakeholders, then developing content around the informational needs of each of those groups. Once a content strategy is in place, design should be approached with content first in mind.
User experience helps visitors find what they’re looking for
User Experience (UX) is simply defined as the interaction (or experience) a user has with a website. While design plays a role, effective UX is much more than a creative exercise. From a planning perspective, UX is typically defined in wireframes, but every aspect of the web design and development process—from wireframing to copywriting to design to programming—affects the user experience.
The objective of UX is perhaps most simply conveyed by the statement, “Don’t make me think”. A user should never have to learn to use your website. It should be intuitive and easy for them to find exactly what they’re looking for, regardless of the device they’re using or their familiarity with your website. In other words, it shouldn’t feel like they have to learn how to use your website. UX plays a critical role in making that happen.
Quality development makes it function
Without question, development is the backbone of a website. You can get all the other things right, but without solid development that brings your planning, content, design and user experience to life, your website will fall flat on your goals and objectives.
Quality code ensures a number of critical factors, including:
• Usability and accessibility
• Mobile-friendliness using responsive design
• Minimal page-load speeds
• Cross-browser compatibility
• Search engine optimization
Advanced analytics and/or marketing automation help you measure success and integrate with your other marketing efforts
It’s not enough to simply know how many people visit your website, how long they stay and what pages are most popular (though it’s helpful to know these things). You need to go beyond basic web analytics to get real marketing and sales intelligence that will boost business development. So to really understand how your website is performing and get the most from your investment, advanced web analytics or ideally marketing automation software is required.
Website visitor tracking can provide real-time intelligence about a lead’s interests, behaviors and sales-readiness, and allows your business development staff to have a much more targeted and relevant conversation with prospects and clients. Additionally, it’s important to understand at a deeper level how your website content is performing. You can measure this in several ways, including call-to-action clickthrough rate, landing page A/B test results or Google Analytics’ goal funnels.
Design does matter—a lot. But design alone is just the tip of the website iceberg. When designing, developing or even maintaining your firm’s website, it’s important to have a holistic perspective. Understanding that many of the most crucial components, including the ones we’ve just discussed, are beneath the surface.