Website design and development is both an art and an exercise of rigid discipline. Indeed, visual appeal plays a significant role in attracting readers, but that is only half of the story.
Once site visitors have been attracted to your website you need to add value to prevent those visitors from leaving your website.
Anyone can claim to develop a website, but several factors must be considered, such as inhouse capabilities, launching deadlines, and establishing the website’s goals. A successful website design and development hinges on whether or not these components are running together smoothly.
In this topic we are going to cover the following areas of website design and website development:
Your website is not simply a digital address. It should extend your office hours and fill the gaps in the marketing chain. Ideally, it will continue to pivot your target customers to your business even when you are sound asleep.
With the correct web design and development, the website should add value to your brand and resonate with your target audience to attract lifetime loyalty.
The resulting profits are just the icing on the cake.
What is Website Design?
Website design refers to the process of designing websites. Web Design involves various elements, such as content, webpage layout, and graphic design.
Web design is focused on the aesthetics and content of the website. It has five basic elements:
Usability dictates how people will interact with your website to accomplish their goals. It refers to the user interface to provide a seamless experience for the website visitor. For instance, your visitors must be able to navigate across your website without any directions. The layout of the elements and how you display them are crucial to the user experience.
Some questions you need to ask include: Are the buttons responsive? Are the links working? Does the page load quickly?
Think of it as a map, which the visitors can use to get to their destination using as fewest steps as possible.
Website Design Aesthetics
The element refers to the visual appeal. It is human nature to be drawn to beauty, and your website is not an exemption. Aesthetics refers to the colors, lines, layout, images, consistency, and harmony, among others. The most successful brands know how to incorporate web design and development that appeals to emotions to connect with their customers.
Your website must appeal to your visitors on a visceral level to resonate with your target audience.
Website Search Visibility
Much like it sounds, visibility ensures that people find your website. You might have a stunning website, but it would be useless if people are unaware of it. In the digital sphere, the name of the game is to for your site to resonate with the search engines. You announce your presence using white hat SEO techniques for proper indexing and content marketing to reach your desired audience.
Speaking of content, it is the single crucial element that can establish your credibility and authenticity. It does not matter if your website is visually appealing as no transaction will occur if you do not address the primary need of the user.
Content sits on top of the totem pole in Google’s rankings, alongside website design. The search engine changes its algorithms more than 3,000 times a year(!) to bring the most relevant answer to the user query. Content allows you to connect to your customers.
Site User experience
When it comes to websites, you only have a few seconds to make an impression. Do you know how many seconds it takes for 50% of your visitors to leave your site if it loads slowly? Two seconds. Also, your website’s navigation must be intuitive. It should lead the users to where they want to go without getting lost in the process.
Usability refers to the functionality of all the buttons. Meanwhile, the user experience is the quality of their interaction with your website.
A good website design must not be too obvious, which means the customers intuitively know where to go and what to do. Some people like a sleek and simple website, while others prefer all the bells and whistles.
The web designer must strike a balance between visual appeal and functionality. The trick is to appeal to a broad spectrum of users while maintaining an easy to use interface.
What is Website Development?
People sometimes confuse website design with web development. But there is a slight difference. The latter is the broader category, which involves the technical aspect of creating a functioning website. If the web design is the artist, the web developer is the curator that connects the art to the audience. Web design and development go hand in hand.
The website designer’s output is visible for everyone to see. But a web developer will work behind the scenes to make sure the blueprint functions exactly as designed. They do this by using coding languages, which vary depending on the task and platform.
Web developers are split into multiples types:
The frontend web developer must make sure:
All menus are working
The texts are readable
The site has cross platform capability
The site development matches exactly with the website design
All clickable elements work properly
The backend website developer focuses more on the technical aspects of the websites. These aspects include the code that is written to allow the user to interact with the site, like filling out forms or logging in to a user dashboard as well as some of the server functions, like automated scripts that run a task on a schedule. The server is the repository of all your data, which serves up your hosted pages with the data collected to create webpages that can be viewed and interacted with by site visitors. The developer must also make sure the website meets the compliance standards of Google and the web host.
The developer will run various programs to make sure that the website, apps, and database act jointly for a smoother user experience. Python, Ruby, Java, and PHP are among the coding languages used in the backend side of web development.
Full stack Developers
Frontend and backend developers are specialists. But full stack developers are capable of working both the frontend and backend of your website as well as undertake some of the server maintenance as well. They can write code from scratch, without the use of a CMS, and develop the entire process until your website goes live. The term “stack” refers to the technology or apps that perform multiple functions of the website. The most commonly used stack is known as the LAMP Stack, which stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. These pieces together form the server construction, the website code, the database of content, and the processes needed to take a website from concept to reality. Full stack developers are in high demand due to their expertise and tend to charge higher prices because of the nature of their difficult work.
All developers, whether they are frontend, backend, or full stack typically follow the steps below when creating a website:
- Form a strategy based on the website goals
- Produce the wireframe, which is also the website blueprint
- Write the code
- Build the frontend and backend
- Connect with outside applications if needed
- Access the domain name
- Go live by pointing the domain name to the website’s server
Today, there are free web templates that you can use for web design and development. Some plug and play content management systems allow a basic site to go live in under an hour, though, typically, the easier they are to use the more limited they will be in functionality. The most popular CMS is WordPress, which powers nearly 4 in 10 websites on the Internet.
In theory, you do not need to hire web developers to create your website. You only need to follow the instructions to get it done. Keep in mind that those instructions can be somewhat technical and those who are uncomfortable learning how to work with technology may find even the simplest instructions daunting to work with. Hiring a web design company will help to free up the time it would normally take to learn a specific theme’s setup, which can be both technical and time consuming.
Many web developers use WordPress as their preferred CMS platform. However, most professional web development companies will modify the source code to tailor the outcome according to the client’s needs. Business owners should hire professional website developers if they are looking for a more seamless and personalized user experience.
Common Website Design Platforms
The website design and development platform is the foundation from which your site will be built. Most people associate the term “platform” with the WordPress, Drupal or Joomla content management systems (CMS). Among others, platform can also refer to the coding language or the software building tools like Bootstrap or Grid.
In this case, we will talk about web builder platforms with CMS capabilities. Some of the most popular names out there include:
If you choose WordPress you will be in good company since 40% of the websites out there are also using that same platform. As a result, you would not likely encounter incompatibility problems for B2B or B2C websites. The platform is fairly easy to use for nontechnical staff members to add or edit basic content and its plug and play capability allows developers to create basic business websites easily and in a relatively short amount of time. Its extendable features are invaluable for professional websites, and the wide array of customization options can help to personalize a website so that it can stand out from the rest.
– Wix is a self-hosted builder platform whose primary appeal is that it is easy for users to create their websites. The interface is intuitive, which drastically cuts the learning curve. There are many templates to choose from, allowing you to select a style that best suits your preferences. The drawbacks for Wix are that the platform offers few to no options for customization, there is not a way to track site visitor statistics, and the underlying code is inaccessible so views and layouts cannot be tweaked. Wix websites all tend to look very similar due to these drawbacks.
Joomla is one of the most widely used platforms for larger, more professional websites, like large business and government websites. But, it is not as widely adopted as some of the others because it requires developers with more technical expertise than the other platforms. Nevertheless, it only trails WordPress in the number of users, as it has been downloaded over 118 million times. It is automatically optimized for mobile, which is great news since more than 2 billion people are using their smartphones to go online. It is user friendly and features a full featured CMS. Joomla, unlike any of the other CMSs, has a very robust development base that allows developers to create very customized solutions for a wide range of applications.
– Shopify is an extremely popular self hosted CMS specific to eCommerce. It reduces the amount of time a shopkeeper must spend in the difficult task of website creation and product maintenance. It integrates with several third party platforms, like Mailchimp Newsletters and Salesforce CRM. Themes can be purchased from the Shopify store and addons can be installed to extend some of its built in capabilities. Although it is known for its ease of use, it is also known for a bit more downtime than other hosted platforms. And though it does allow some very basic theme code tweaks, true code manipulation is not available. So those that need to have their eCommerce platform do something specific will have to look elsewhere. WooCommerce for WordPress works about as well as Shopify and, since the code is hosted on a server that can be accessed, customizations can be done to extend its functions.
What to look for in a web builder platform?
Whether or not you are hiring a web developer, you need to make sure that the builder platform has the following web design and development characteristics:
- Easy user interface
- Plenty of templates to choose from to avoid a cookie cutter website
- Affordability over time
- Technical service support to make sure your site is up and running 99% of the time
- Optimized for mobile
- Data and website ownership
- Glitch free
- Social sharing features
- SEO ready so that Google can index your site accordingly
- Adequate space for your images and assets
- High Uptime Percentages
The different web design platforms have their distinct pros and cons. However, you can still hire a developer even if you are using a self build platform to address the gaps and make sure you have a website that you are proud of.
What Makes a Good Website Design?
Not all websites are created equal. Unfortunately, many businesses are so impressed by the trappings of a visually stunning website that they forget the undercarriage.
And it makes sense. Your website is the digital version of your physical store. You cannot lure in customers if you have a poorly layout brick and mortar shop. Young people are drawn to “Instagrammable” spots.
In the same vein, your website is your first point of contact, and you only have a few seconds to make a good first impression so you need to have a good web design and development to make it count.
A good website design will not only pique the interest of visitors, but it should also hold up clear signboards for the search engine spiders to follow.
Here are some of the fundamental principles of a good website:
Serve the website’s purpose
Defining your business goals is one of the first steps in website design. These will serve as the manual for the developer in building the design and infrastructure of your site. For instance, an ecommerce website will be radically different as compared to a news aggregator site. The latter does not require a catalog of products or a shopping cart to function.
Search engines impose rules for websites to follow. For instance, you need to create an XML Site Map, use robots, avoid duplicate content, and ensure that the URLs are user friendly. You may have the most advanced and aesthetically pleasing website, but your efforts are useless if Google cannot find you.
The last thing you need is your visitors wasting precious time trying to make sense of your website. A confusing interface is the quickest way to send your prospects to your competitors. Navigation will both speed up the search process and direct your customers to your sales funnel immediately.
Visual hierarchy refers to the process of arranging the elements in order of significance. You must properly display the menu icons for visitors to spot them without any problems. When you lay down the elements wisely, you can influence your visitor to take your desired action.
F Shaped pattern
The F Shaped Pattern refers to the visual cues of website visitors. Researchers discovered that readers tend to consume content by reading the top of the page first. They will then go down to the left side of the screen for the bullet points or numerals. Lastly, they will read the subheads and the bold words.
Grids will impose order and provide readers with a roadmap on navigating your website. It will also help make your website appear clean and user friendly. You can divide sections clearly and assign elements to their proper place.
Google includes page speed as a factor in ranking websites. But how fast should your page load from the top of the fold? The benchmark is under two seconds, although Google says it should be less than a second.
Of course, there are several other elements of website design and development that cannot be covered here. For instance, powerful and targeted content can give you an edge over your competitors and carve your niche within your industry.
Website Designs For Superior SEO
A good web designer will design and build a website with search engines in min (unless the site owner is not interested in SEO which is rare but occasional does happen).
While websites are the primary avenue for businesses to connect with their customers, search engines provide the means to make the connection happen.
The primary question on your mind when building your website is, “what would Google do?”
Fortunately, you are not going to need to reinvent the wheel. You only need to follow the breadcrumbs along the way.
Here are some of the best practices to make your website SEO friendly:
Optimize your website’s header tags
The header tags will split the headings and your subheadings on the page. They are arranged in order of priority—H1, , , H4, H5, etc.—and designed to improve the readability and clarity of your webpage.
Do not use duplicate content on your site
Google will flag you if you post matching content across your webpages. Duplicate content does not necessarily mean a replica of a specific post. It could also mean a similar tone or characteristic. Google sees this as an attempt to game the system to rank high in the search engine results pages.
Add an XML Site Map
The XML Site Map is your website’s manual that is easily readable by the search engine spiders. You can then outline the most important pages and elements of your website so they will be prioritized. You can also use Robot.txt that warns the search engine spiders not to crawl certain pages
Internal Site linking
Internal linking is crucial for SEO because it will give search engines a snapshot of your website’s structure. For instance, you can assign values to each page and optimize pages that you want to rank for. You can also help jumpstart your lagging pages by linking them with your highest ranked content. Always run an audit of your website, especially after every Google update, to avoid being blindsided by the sudden drop in rankings.
Optimized Web Page content
Google advises marketers and website owners to produce content for people and not for search engines. It is easy to get crazy about the aesthetics and other elements of the website that they forget the core objectives. People visit your site to access information, find a solution, or be entertained. Fortunately, you do not have to learn this yourself. You can hire seasoned writers to populate your website with SEO friendly content.
Improve Website User Experience (UX)
User experience can spell the difference between the customer purchasing one of your products or leaving your site. Multiple elements dictate the UX, which include the readability of your website, the navigation, value added information, use of title tags and subheadings, and the judicious use of the white space.
Mobile Device compatibility
In the early 2000s, developers only designed for desktops. However, today’s landscape is very different. The majority of users access the Internet through their mobile devices. It means you have to make sure your website is optimized for mobile browsing.
Google will sit up and take notice if your website is filled with spam and popup ads. Be sure to scan your website using apps like Google Malware Checker, ScanTitan, System Mechanic, and others. These apps will screen your pages for malicious and hidden scripts that target visitors.
These are some quick tips to make your website more friendly to the search engines. Again, you need to be indexed in the search engine’s server before your target customers can find you.
Key Web Development takeaways
If you are planning to build a website, do not rush your launch announcement just yet.
The process takes time to marinate so that the outcome will meet your standards. For instance, a standard website will take at least two weeks from conceptualization to launch. But that would be a barebone site, with no complicated elements.
Also, the duration does not include the postlaunch, which involves testing and tweaking.
Then you have to populate the website with quality content, and that will take some time to establish its roots in the ether.
Here are some of the takeaways when developing your website:
Impress Your Site Guests.
The last thing you want is to waste your visitor’s time. As such, you must make your content concise and direct to the point. Readers do not read the text. Instead, they scan it until they get to what they want. As such, your website should display your value proposition prominently.
Work to Retain Site Visitors
A confused visitor is a customer lost. You only have a few seconds to convince the visitor to buy your product or service. Your bounce rate will increase if customers will waste those precious seconds trying to figure out your website.
Good Web Content Counts
Write for your target audience but don’t overlook search engines. Your content is designed for the consumption of the reader. But it will first undergo a first layer of screening from the search engines. You need to convince Google first that you have the best offer from the billions of websites out there. At the very least, you should have significant content during the quality assurance testing for more accurate results.
Do not forget videos! Video marketing is not new but more and more websites are taking advantage. The one drawback before is how they take up space. As a result, websites had to spend money to upgrade the servers. Today, however, you do not have to host your videos, thereby saving precious space. You can relay your message better through the use of videos rather than text.
Reduce Site Visitor Stress
Frustration leads to abandonment. People use Google to access information, do research, shop, find a solution, or entertainment. The primary function of your website is to allow you to deliver what the customer wants. A disgruntled customer will abandon all home and leave your website to seek answers somewhere else.
Respect Your Site Visitors Goals
A good web design should be collaborative. It means that no single voice is more important than others. The primary objective is to deliver value for the target audience. The business goals must be clear from the beginning to serve as the bible for the developers. The developer or designer must always build with the audience’s perspective in mind.
Plan on Site Planning
Extensive planning produces good results. Meetings and brainstorming are boring, and that is one of the reasons why employees skip boardroom visits. When it comes to web development, however, you need to do the grind. It is cost efficient in the long run because you lessen the mistakes when implementing a comprehensive and cohesive strategic plan. Strategic planning can be as easy as group phone calls or can be a longer marathon of planning steps for complex websites with multiple components.
Final Words About Web Design and Development:
The design of your website can spell the difference between the success and failure of your business. It is your first customer contact that can either leave a lasting impression or a tepid response. A successful website design or development can boost traffic, direct your target audience to your sales funnel, and increase conversions.