You have quit your job or just graduated excited to start your business and be an entrepreneur. You have done your market research, garnered the right resources and are raring to go. The next step is to get an impressive website that gets you new visitors and converts them to customers. You are wondering how you should go about it, especially because a simple search for the best web design agency leaves you in a turmoil about whom to choose. To make your decision easier, we have outlined seven points to keep in mind, and also discuss with the designer. These will help you make the right choice and will get you the most optimal results within your budget.
1) Using free DIY tools
As a start-up, we understand your focus is on saving money and trying to do everything by yourself. While as the owner of your business, you are the best person to sell your product or understand customer requirements, but technical aspects of your business such as developing the website or making the logo is best left to professionals. Off late, a lot of website builders have mushroomed giving you options to design your own website. If you do not have a technical background, it is suggested you do not fall into the trap of a DIY builder. These platforms merely give you templates and you will not end up with a unique custom website compared to what you can get from a design agency. Moreover, you will only get the basic template free and will need to pay extra for additional features. Depending on your requirements, this additional cost might well surmount what you would pay a small agency on the whole.
So when can you use website builders?
Building website these days is incredibly different from making websites back in early 2000’s or even the later part of this century. The penetration of the internet was still catching up and it was much easier to float a business online. The competition was much lesser and ranking a website was like a walk in the park. Conversions arguably were easier owing to lack of competition. However, business has changed drastically. Businesses are realizing that websites are no longer just a representation of your business. If a website can’t sell, it’s as good as non-existent as it defeats the very purpose of having a presence online. If your website engages visitors and you make a living by selling through your website, you may want to think about using website builders again.
However, if you do not use your website for selling anything, using a website builder could still be a good, cheap resource. It could also solve the purpose if you would just like a basic website with minimal features and you may be struggling with coding. Some of the other uses of a free website builder could be when you are looking to design a simple blog for your personal use. But if your website is going to be vast or complicated, or you anticipate that you might want a different template later, you cannot do so with free builders.
Besides, running a website is a full-time job and you may have to make several changes to your user interface to optimize conversions. You may have to use services like Crazyegg to understand what portions of your website are most visible to your visitors. That would give you plenty of data to keep you busy. A website builder would just not support making all the dynamic changes.
Pros of website builders
- Easy to use
- Many free options to choose from
- Quicker turnaround time
- Lesser dependence on external factors
Cons of website builders
- Not entirely custom
- May lack an original design
- May not be able to engage visitors
- May not leave a lasting impression
2) Making the website too simple or too flashy
While simple looking, classy designs work well for Google and Apple, but remember that they explain their features well and look highly professional. As a new business, you should not lose focus on what your website should do. Remember that it should convey to your readers what you sell. Trying to keep it too simple by placing an image on the background, without actually working on the color combinations or putting in the extra effort to have different sections for different features spells disaster.
An example is Cloud 9 Walkers. The image below is a designer’s nightmare with poor readability, image covering text and unnecessary use of highlighting and apostrophes.
Another common mistake made by most website owners to make the website too flashy or too cluttered in an attempt to give a lot of information. This is a big no unless you are aiming to be like LingsCars, which incidentally worked well for Ling but may not for you. Bombarding your visitor by trying to tell them everything you offer will drive them away sooner than you imagine.
3) Designing your website in a haste
We understand your excitement to achieve your dreams at short notice, but jumping right into getting a website developed might leave you with a design that doesn’t completely address what you want, and you will end up getting the website redesigned after a few months, wasting time and money. It is advisable to first understand your target demographics so you can decide how your website should appear visually. Taking time for this will also allow you to check up on the latest technological trends so you website incorporates all those.
So how should you schedule your time to design your website?
Understand your target audience
The fist step is always to being with understanding your target audience. Research about where they are from, what they may be looking for, and try to learn about what works in your industry. You should be able to provide your users just what they are comfortable with, so your sales can flow naturally. A certain specific colors should be used keeping in mind the industry you are serving.
For example, yellow is a color of excitement, energy, and cheerfulness, which makes it a good choice if your target market is youngsters. This is the reason many fast food outlets use yellow in their branding.
Blue, on the other hand, is supposed to signify trust, credibility, and assurance. That is why many big banks use it for their branding.
Understand the features needed
Another important thing when you are trying to design a website is to understand what kind of features you would like your users to have. An ecommerce website may want to provide a payment gateway, while an informative blog would just like visitors to subscribe to their newsletter.
If you are running a business through your website, it is probably a good idea to expect a lot of changes, especially if you are in a competitive niche. You may want to use a service provider who can provide you with any changes for a monthly maintenance fee.
A CMS or content management system like WordPress allows you to update your content without any external help. All CMS installations come with a login, using which you can check your content, update it, add new posts or pages, and allocate specific roles to your team. If you anticipate running a blog, having a CMS would come in handy.
Clear understanding of requirements
Last but not the least is a need to make a clear design document before you begin working with a developer. Preparing a document and signing it, in the beginning, would ensure that the requirements are clear between you and your developer. It could save a lot of time and cost going forward.
4) Choosing a very cheap or very expensive agency
How much should I pay, is the question every entrepreneur has. Do you choose the cheapest option and save money that you need so much for the business, or do you choose the most popular agency in your city because you believe they will give you the best possible product? Unfortunately, the answer is neither.
Why you shouldn’t choose a very cheap company
Most companies don’t do an ROI analysis before getting their website designed and end up being penny wise, pound foolish. The amount of business you can lose due to a poor website is exponential and you will find in retrospect that getting a good website is an investment that pays off well. Customers make conclusions about your business and integrity based on how professional and legitimate your website looks. A shoddy design or grammatically incorrect sentences are sure-shot means to drive your customers away; which by the way, takes your bounce rate up, something you don’t want.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Remember, your website should elicit feelings of trust from customers. Everything on your website “talks” and you want your customers to listen and believe. Don’t compromise on the agency you choose just to save a few bucks. Make the wise decision by choosing a professional company that can evoke confidence in you when you speak to them.
Why you shouldn’t choose a very expensive company
Designing is essentially the use of codes while keeping an artistic eye. While I do not disparage the big agencies because they have worked hard to earn their worth, the truth is you could get an equally well-done design from other agencies too, provided you choose the right one. To give you an example, Gucci has T-shirts that sell for over $980, but you can get an equally well stitched and beautiful T-shirt at a much cheaper rate. The same factory that makes T-shirts for Gucci uses the same fabric to make T-shirts for other cheaper companies too. The reason people buy Gucci is that they are picky about choosing brands. This, however, is not necessary when designing websites. At the same time, big agencies usually work with huge business and do not understand your ROI focus.
Hashtag17, one of the bespoke web designing services, has developed a Value-Price beam. The idea is you weigh what value you are getting in return for the price and choose the option that gives you more value for less money.
5) Missing clear call to action buttons
Most people, not just business owners, but surprisingly website designers as well, are so focused on getting a good design that they forget to place call to action buttons at the right places. Remember your online visitor may not know what you offer. Without a clear direction, it would take them less than 30 seconds to lose interest and exit your site. Make sure you strategically place call to action buttons that stand out in a different color, with a clean font. The button should tell your visitor clearly if they should buy something or subscribe to a list. Refrain from using buttons like “Click Here”. Instead, use phrases like “Get my Free Report” or “Subscribe me to Awesome Deals”.
A very effective example of a CTA is Netflix. Words like “cancel anytime” and “join free” help them boost subscribers because customers feel a sense of power.
Make sure your call to action is not unclear or lost between text. You will need a few moments to figure out where the CTA button is in the newsletter of Topshop because it has been placed with a lot of normal text and does not stand out. Your customer does not have the time or patience to search for this.
6) Forgetting about the maintenance
It is not enough to get a brilliant design and then forget about maintaining it. Keep your content updated, your website responsive and your UI/UX in accordance with the latest trends. An outdated website might even leave visitors wondering if you are still in business. Hire a good developer to keep your website well protected.
According to a survey by Sucuri, a web security firm, WordPress websites that had not got updated were getting defaced at the rate of 3000 sites a day and had hit 67000 in February 2017. There are always unscrupulous guys looking for a loophole, and before you know, your website would be talking about gambling or Ukranian escorts or ISIS beheading!
The below image is website of Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Website which was hacked by an Islamic group, and placed an image promoting ISIS, but he government restored it quickly. Remember, they had the technology to reverse the damage quickly, but you may not.
7) Not focusing on the SEO
You got a good design, right colors, well-placed buttons and are keeping it protected. But you wonder why you are getting only a handful of visitors. Remember the purpose of your website is to make money for you. Your website is a business machine and not a doll that looks pretty. While a designer can make you a beautiful website, but you need the right marketing person to advise you how your website should be in terms of SEO so that it not only attracts visitors but converts them as well.
Merely getting a website developed is like buying a car, but not actually driving it. Simply having a car is not going to get you to your destination. You need gas, knowing how to drive, and actually putting in an effort to steer the wheel. Running an online business is similar because you need a lot more to get the business generating revenue. You need good content that is SEO optimized, social media marketing and brand management to make your business trustworthy.
A website is more about functionality than looks. The below graphic developed by Hashtag17 shows you need to select an agency that gives you the perfect mix of all three factors-design, SEO and being sales-friendly.
Remember these seven points before getting your website designed and you will find yourself reaping higher returns much faster. If you have already got a website developed but they don’t meet the above criteria, it’s never too late. You can retract what’s done and do it the right way this time. The key is to be open to change and not stagnate. Technology and online unsaid “rules” for designing change very frequently, and not updating yourself is being on the right road, but not moving ahead – you will end up getting run over. After all, there is no better time to up your game and boost up revenue.