A few years ago when I was just starting out as a web developer, I often heard this statement, “The world of web and IT is changing the way we do business.” Several years of working in the domain of web later, I can say with some credibility and certainty, “It has changed the ways of business and furthermore is still constantly evolving.”
Only very few companies can afford not to have a noticeable online presence and web design these days. A functional, unique and attention-grabbing website has become the benchmark for any business looking to develop a new image or revamp an existing one.
Despite this, two-bit developers are often full of bad advice. Their very conventional wisdom makes it easy to cut corners to bring down the cost borne by your company. However, this ultimately results, at best, in bad user experience, poor search engine rankings, low traffic and absolute zero sales. At worst, it affects your overall brand value, affecting even your offline sales sometimes.
With more than a billion sites on the open web (check the number of actual results every time you google something), web design now needs to be go hard or go home. It’s all or nothing now – and with that, if your current web web developer/ designer makes any of the following suggestions, it’s time to rethink the direction you want the online arm of your business to take.
Here’s the curated list of worst advice we at Flying Penguins have ever heard about web design:
A below-average website stands no chance in a world that’s full of fantastic websites. And developing a cheap website will, in the long run, cost you more than developing a great website in the first go. Budget accordingly and speak to a number of web development companies before choosing one that seems best aligned with your company’s vision.
“Once it’s built, it’s finished,” is a common misconception among the management. Perhaps the easiest way to get your company out of this mindset is to ask them if they’d be happy to have left the business premises in the same condition since the company was formed.
Times change, and so do customer expectations. Web development should be an ongoing, organic process which flows with the zeitgeist – neglecting this is a sure-fire way to get left behind.
Let’s imagine one of your competitors is absolutely killing it online. While it can be tempting to copy their web design, you won’t do yourself any favours by simply mimicking their site – in fact, you’re more likely to lose respect among potential customers.
Instead, you should research websites of multiple industries outside your own and consider implementing features or aesthetics from various different sources. Good web design is largely universal, so if something works in another industry, the chances are it will in yours too.
Whenever a band releases an absolute clanger of an album, it’s normally accompanied by a statement along the lines of “We’re making music for ourselves and if anyone else likes it, it’s a bonus.” The music is almost always unequivocally terrible.
Never, ever adopt this attitude. In order to be successful online, you need to appeal to a wide cross-section of people. If you think you’ve got a world-beating idea, be sure to do some A/B testing to see if it works before implementing your vanity project site-wide.
While nobody can deny that search engine optimisation is an important part of building your online presence, packing your site full of long-tail keywords won’t necessarily result in conversions. Your website must also be responsive, easy to use and fast in order to encourage sales.