How important is your web design to your digital marketing strategy?
The answer is: very.
Your website is the place where most people will interact with your business. Both your online and offline marketing activities will most likely send users to your website. Whether it’s to get information about your services and products, to make bookings or purchases, or to get contact details.
You might operate a great marketing campaign only to be disappointed by sales because your website’s landing page doesn’t convert. A website can under perform for a number of reasons, including site speed, responsiveness or navigation. You shouldn’t underestimate the importance of a quality web design to the success of your digital marketing strategy.
Review your website with the following factors in mind:
- Conversion rate – are you converting leads/customers?
- Competition – are you outperforming competitors or vice versa?
- Branding – does your website reflect your brand?
- SEO – are you performing well on search engines?
- Responsiveness – is your site responsive?
- Site speed – do your pages load quickly?
If you’re not getting the results you’d like and your site isn’t performing effectively for most of these factors, then it may be worth considering a redesign.
Do you need a new website?
If you think that you need a new site, then make sure that you consider the following factors when you undergo a redesign. You should discuss each one with your web designer to ensure that any changes that you make to your website will have a positive impact. All too often a redesign causes a website to perform worse than its predecessor because the design hasn’t considered each of these factors.
For example, a website that’s rich with images, videos and interactive content might look great, but it will reduce site speed. This may increase bounce rate because users don’t want to wait for pages to load.
Who is your website for?
First, identify what your target audience is and build the site that they’d want. Is it for:
- Potential Customers/Leads
- Existing Customers/Members
- Staff/Internal Stakeholders
Once you know who your audience is, you can build personas for each segment and create a user journey around them. This will help you understand how they get to your site and how they’d navigate it to reach your intended objective.
What does your target audience want?
Take the time to understand your audience and their online behaviour before you make any changes to your website. It’s often a good idea to test some designs on your current site before you change the entire thing. This could be achieved by having a web designer create the landing pages for your marketing campaigns. You could then run some A/B tests with your email or ad campaigns to see what was more effective. From there, you could further refine the page by making slight alterations to the page’s call to action (CTA) to understand what works for your target audience. Once you’ve collected the data, you can use it in your plans to build an optimised website.
Your website should be in-line with your branding and include all key messages that your audience would expect from interacting with your brand through any other marketing channel.
What is the purpose of your website?
Your digital marketing strategy should define your objectives. These could include lead generation, sales, or brand awareness. These objectives should be central to any website redesign. When choosing a web designer or agency, you should ask them to specify how their design will meet these objectives.
It is also important to set out measurable KPI’s for each objective. You could base them on conversions, visits, bounce rate, average time on page, or keyword rankings.
To ensure that your website meets your goals, your website design needs to consider:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
- User Experience (UX)
- Brand Identity
Search engine optimization is about increasing your organic visibility on search engines, which can be achieved through various on and off-site techniques. It’s essential that your site is seen on search, because roughly 93% of online activity starts on a search engine.
And with around 60% of searches taking place on a mobile, a responsive website is a no-brainer. Most websites nowadays will be built with responsive in mind, but there are numerous devices that they need to be compatible with, so it can be tricky to get right.
There are still many sites that aren’t responsive, and it’s frustrating when you have to use one on a mobile.
Apart from responsive, a web designer should think about other on-page optimization activities, such as improving the content, navigation and technical areas of the site.
Any changes that you make to the site may impact your SEO performance for better or worse, which will affect your rankings in search engines like Bing and Google. A good design will take into consideration the following factors:
Structure and navigation:
You want to make it as easy as possible for users to navigate your site. It will also help bots to create a map of your website when they crawl it.
While not as important as user-friendliness, your design should look great so that users stay on your website and want to revisit it.
You’ll want your website to allow you to input custom metadata and alt tags, which will provide greater explanation of pages and content. This gives bots more information about the page when they’re crawling your site. The page title and the meta description are also the first thing that a user sees in the SERP’s and will determine whether they click on your link or not.
A site should have functionality for creating new content so that you have more pages indexed in Google. This will increase the chance that your site will be found on search engines and means that there is more information about your website on the internet. A site that is always changing will get crawled by Google more frequently.
If your current website isn’t optimised for navigation, speed and design, then you can have a web designer build your site so that these factors are taken into consideration.
They should be considered as part of the UX design as well.
Conversion Rate Optimization is the process of enhancing your site to increase the chances that a user will complete a desired action and improve your conversion rate (CR).
A conversion doesn’t always have to be a product purchase, it will entirely depend on your objectives. It can include:
- Contact Form Submissions
- Email Submissions
- Booking Completion
- Account Creation
- Transaction Completion
You must design your site so that it drives users to these call to actions. A talented web design team can make all the difference, because they’ll know how to get the balance between appearance and efficiency. If you brief them on your objectives they will consider it in the planning stages, which means that you will be in the best position to refine your website for CRO.
While the management and analysis of CRO is down to your marketing team, they’ll need the support of designers to make the most of A/B and multivariate testing.
User Experience focuses on user satisfaction. When you design a website, you want it to be easy-to-use, accessible and worthwhile for your user. UX is essential to web design and it’s closely linked with SEO and CRO. Search engines are trying to match up what a user wants with the most relevant websites, which will factor in sites with the best UX. And when you are optimising your website to convert, you’ll need a site that thinks about the user journey across your site.
A visually appealing website is important as they will have a greater emotional response by seeing something that they find pleasing. However, a lot of websites prioritise looks over functionality. This is dangerous because users might like the look of a site, but if they find it difficult to use and pages take a long time to load, then they’re unlikely to have a great experience and return.
Web users have high expectations of how fast a site should load. Make sure that images or videos are compressed to limit file size and activate server compression. It’s better to be conscious of site speed and file size during the design stages rather than back tracking when it’s live. Nevertheless, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Tool to get more information on how you can improve site speed. Navigation is also important for user experience. If the user can’t find what they are looking for then they’ll leave and go to your competitor. This also relates to responsiveness. When using mobile, it’s often the case that contact forms and payment forms don’t function very well. This can have a significant effect on final conversions.
Getting this right might seem like an impossible job, but a quality designer will be able to mix good aesthetic with performance. Once the site is complete, you should regularly test it to enhance the user experience.
A website speaks volumes about your business. Most people will get an initial impression of your brand by visiting your site, so make sure that you’re happy with how it’s represented.
Brand identity is important to UX and CRO as it builds trust between the user and your business and it will influence their decision-making. A bad experience on your website will reflect on your brand and could have a detrimental impact on performance.
If your brand prides itself on being simple, quick and easy, then your site experience should reflect this through navigation, structure and visuals. Brief your designer on your brand guidelines, values and messages and make sure that these translate to your website.
As in all strategy, you must spend time to review. There is no such thing as a perfect website. It will need to constantly adapt, change and be optimised to perform how you want it to.
Most organisations want a website that converts its users into profitable action. In which case, you’ll need to know what areas of your website are performing well and what aren’t.
Every area of your website can be monitored to optimise it for users. You should dedicate some time to understanding the user journey and identify the pages that aren’t getting traffic or converting. At a basic level, you should be using Google Analytics to achieve this, and anyone can learn to use it.
Do a free crash course on Google’s Analytics using Google Analytics Academy and make sure that you are taking advantage of this incredibly useful tool.
A good website is a lot more than a simple placeholder on the internet. It requires a lot more thought to make it fulfil its intended purpose. You must get it right to support your Digital Marketing activities. All the marketing channels you use such as social, email, SEO or PPC, may be less effective as a result of a poor website.
If you’re questioning why your website isn’t performing as well as you’d expect, then do an audit and see what’s missing. And if you decide that you need a new site, then make sure that you consider all these aspects of design.