If you are a business owner considering a new web design, there are many issues that you need to know. Getting a new web design is an exciting time for any business but you should be involved. The level of your involvement depends on how much time you can spare and how much you trust you place in your web developers.
A good web design company should be able to interpret your specification, detailed or broad, and come up with a website that will work to meet your objectives: branding, image and business.
We have a wide spectrum of clients. Some will just provide a very broad specification and let us get on with the job. Others will want to get more involved and expect regular updates on progress. Either approach can work but we think there are some key web design issues business owners need to know.
#1 Technology – website, domain names, hosting, email
Although your web design company will guide you through the process, you need to be aware of the technology that powers your website.
Flat HTML is fine for basic websites that aren’t frequently updated, but your users and search engines will like fresh content or content that is accurate and up to date. Also in this day and age, all websites need to have a responsive design that works on PCs, laptops, mobiles and tablets.
That means using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. There are also many commercial systems too. With a good content management system, you and your staff can keep the content of your website, fresh and up-to-date.
Our favoured CMS is WordPress and we are confident that most functionality requirements can be met.
You will also need web hosting including domain name registration and email management. While you may not know the detail or the latest options, you should be able to describe the business objectives of your website and email communication. Your web design company will be able to guide you through what options are available.
#2 SEO, digital marketing and calls to action
A new web design is an expensive waste of time if the website cannot be marketed easily or increase good quality traffic. SEO and digital marketing is an ongoing process that boosts good quality web traffic, generates new enquiries and orders.
You need to have thought about how you are marketing your website. The web design and specification needs to ease this process through features such as landing page creation, editing content, updates on the home page and other issues. The fine detail and strategy needs to be ironed out after the website launch but the best practice principles of SEO and digital marketing need to be part of the web design.
We find it helpful to think about calls to action and work this into the web design. Think about what you want your visitors to do.
This could be one, more or all of the following: email, submit an email form, phone you, order online, order by phone, make a booking, share on social media, etc.
#3 Content writing and website structure
The words used on your website not only get read by the user but also indexed by search engines so they are a critical part of your web design.
The location of the words is also a factor as well as how many words are on a page and how they are structured:
- Main text on a page split into easy to read paragraphs – ideally a minimum of 300 words, original content, from and with the optimum number of keywords.
- Headings – strictly one H1 tag per page, any number of other tags.
- Title tag.
- Description tag.
- Optimised, good quality images with Alt tags.
- Menu – what sections you want on your website, sub menu items and the order.
This is all text that needs to be written properly, with good spelling and grammar, so they engage your website visitors and gets indexed by search engines.
A good web design company will be able to either draft content from scratch based on what they already know about your business or take existing material and make it suitable for web pages. Here it is often useful to engage the services of a professional copywriter.
#4 Layout, appearance and branding
The layout and style of your website is an obvious but key part of your web design.
Your company branding and colour scheme must be reflected in the web design but there are also important decisions to make regarding fonts, backgrounds, font sizes etc.
Your website might have a lot of content to read so light text on dark backgrounds is not a good idea. Other websites such as for artists, photographers or e-commerce might want a very low key colour scheme using greys and blacks so it doesn’t distract from the images.
Also think about your audience. Are they older or have specific accessibility requirements? That means font sizes and contrast with the background becomes important.
#5 Prototyping and testing
Once the draft website is finished you need a staging area to view and test your website in private. While this maybe on the web, it is important to discourage search engines using commands in the robots.txt file and maybe password protecting the test site so it cannot be viewed by accident.
Use existing web traffic data to garner information about your audience such as preferred browsers, operating system and devices and test for typical users.
Once the website is live remember to encourage search engines again by amending the robot.txt file, remove any password protection and make sure all URLs work on the live site.
These are the five main issues but there are always more. Please get in touch if you need any help with web design, web hosting and domains.