Let’s face it. Most web design is judged rather subjectively.
Oh sure, the new design of your website may win design awards.
Or perhaps look exquisite — which is important.
But does that make the design great?
I’d argue that one thing above all else makes a website design successful. And that’s whether it delivers measurable return on investment to the company purchasing the design.
Characteristics Of Good Web Design
All the minor factors revolve around the only thing that matter when evaluating a website design:
Does it provide ROI for the company who requested the design?
Specifically, does it help generate more revenue, save more money, or save time internally?
Notice these are measurable, quantifiable things that support real business objectives.
Anything else we use to grade a website design should be supporting one or more of these main criteria.
Time For Honesty
Here’s some questions your web design company should be pondering when re-designing your site:
How will this website design support your business?
How will it bring more customers to you?
When customers come to your site, will they be more or less likely to buy anything from you? Why?
The sign of a failed design is when it doesn’t accomplish one of our main objectives: generate more leads, generate more revenue, save money, or save time.
So, What Makes a Web Re-design Good?
A lot of businesses already have a website. But, sometimes the sites that they have don’t do them any favors. Their site may actually be hurting their business more than it helps them.
There’s a lot of ways your site can be missing opportunities to grow your business.
It can be outdated, not mobile-friendly, or not provide the information customers want to find.
There could be no way for customers to buy what you have for sale. There may be no means to get customers into a marketing funnel, or no way to add them to an email marketing list. The site might make it more difficult to contact the business than it needs to be. There might not be a way to put potential customers into a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.
These things directly support business objectives for most companies.
Quick Advice On Evaluating Web Design Firms
Quality web companies have a process for gathering information that takes place well before they site down to design your website.
Understanding your business is crucial to understanding how they can improve your website, and make it work for you at a higher level.
This involves asking a lot of questions. This process may take a while. This is actually a good thing.
Web firms that rush through the discovery process may not have a full grasp on what you’re trying to accomplish, or why.
When seeking a website redesign, be sure to budget a longer time frame than you think it may initially take. If you’re seeking a new web development studio, the quality studios are usually booked out a bit in advance, because they do great work and attract great clients.
It will also take time to interview your short-list of web firms, and get a feel for which company is the right fit for you. Think long-term relationship or marriage, not speed dating or a one-night stand.
There’s three main layers to a great website design: content, functionality, and presentation.
The First Layer: Focused Content
The information being presented is the content. Great content attracts customers looking for an answer to a question. Site content is also the messaging that tells customers what you’d like them to do next.
Content is the entire reason people want to come to your site. But sometimes, there’s not a lot of thought put behind how content fits into the design process. Oftentimes, content planning is left to the last possible minute, which is the opposite of how it should work.
The words, video, and audio on a page are the catalysts that lead people to take action. Ultimately, you want each page to centered around one action that you want people to take.
Too many calls to action on each page makes customers confused about what to do next. Too many options leads to decision paralysis.
Each page should have one primary action that you want people to take. Yes, content is part of web design.
Content precedes site architecture, which is how the pages of the site connect to one another — a page hierarchy.
Intentional design means leading your customers through a logical path on your site. The site structure also tells the search engines what pages you feel are most important.
Content should be linked together logically to make information easy to find.
Individual pages should make it clear what customers can do, and what you’d like them to do next.
The Second Layer: Functionality
The second layer is functionality — the engine underneath the hood. Web development ensures that the website does all the things that it’s supposed to do. Web development is an integral part of web design, and requires intelligent decisions.
Here’s a few examples of how site functionality supports a business:
On e-commerce websites, payment processing must work correctly and order notices must be sent to the distribution center.
Contact forms collect customer information and send an email to the appropriate departments. This information may also go into a CRM tool.
Email signup forms should add customers to a mailing list, or the proper segment of a list.
Websites with social integration should have the correct social accounts connected.
What if you have a membership site? Is there a way for people to signup and get access to material automatically? Are the right membership assets being distributed to the right people?
How easy is it for our marketing team to maintain or edit the site? Is it a breeze to add or edit new pages, or do you need to call your web development team every time you want to make a minor change?
Web development also affects things like website performance and page speed. Page speed affects both customer experience and search engine rankings. Web developers are the people that bring interaction design to life, so they are part of the user experience design team.
Quality web development plays a very large part in supporting business objectives, and is absolutely a large part of website design.
The Third Layer: Visual Presentation
Visual design is what most people think of when they think about web design.
Visual design is the look, the feel, the aesthetics, the branding — all the things that make up the visual presentation of the site.
Visual designers make the website look appealing, and play a large role in making the user experience pleasurable.
When people enjoy being on your site, they are more likely to trust your brand, and come back to your site in the future.
Customers are less likely to trust a site that looks old and decrepit than a site that is visually pleasing and well-organized.
Visual design answers many important questions:
Do the colors work well together? Do the colors match the branding of the company? Is the branding consistent from page to page?
Does the typography work? Is the site easy to read? Is the site easy to use on a mobile device?
Is information laid out in such a way that customers want to be on your site even longer?
The visual presentation is important because it tells customers whether your company is professional or a relic of the past.
Customers make a snap judgement about your overall company based on how your site looks.
Remember, we are judging quality of web design not by the number of design awards we can collect, but by the positive impact we can have on our clients’; businesses.
Just like a tripod takes three legs to stand, so does a website design take three components working together to accomplish it’s goals. It has to look good and attract customers. It has to have the right information. It has to be work correctly under the hood.
Great web design has a measurable, positive impact on your business. It does more than make your brand stand out, it generates more conversions and revenue; saves you time, or saves you money in the long term.