Your company’s website is the online face of everything you do. In some sectors, it may even make up the entire basis of your business — handling everything from marketing to sales. In either case, the last thing you want visitors to be met with is a dated look.
Staying current can certainly be challenging. After all, the curve charting the rise in technology has been a steep one — the effort to keep pace has seen more than one business make mistakes. Not to mention that trends in what consumers are looking for from businesses fluctuate. Does this mean that it’s impossible, that you should just sit back and let the chips fall where they may? Of course not!
Look, not everyone has web design chops. The good news is that the tools of our digital age are incredibly accessible, and the knowledge you need is always at your fingertips. We’re going to introduce you to a few key issues to watch out for, and look at why they’re important. We’ll also give you some tips to send you on your way to a website that converts.
Chances are, the website you’re displaying isn’t on the extreme end of the “dated” spectrum. There aren’t so many companies these days that we find are still sporting the Angelfire look. However, there can easily be elements you have overlooked; aspects you think are serviceable, but don’t reflect the approach of our current digital landscape.
So what are these elements?
- Lack of Response. Few things scream “dated” right now quite so loudly as a website that isn’t responsive to various devices. This shows you haven’t considered the fact that your consumers may need to access your services through the medium that is most convenient to them.
- Blocked Branding. There are really few excuses today not to use a logo with a transparent background. However, some businesses still utilize the methods of the past in having their logo caged into a block of plain color and slapped onto their homepage. This looks lazy and gives the impression of being unprofessional.
- Flash Usage. There was a time in which Adobe Flash gave your website a fresh and interactive look. However, the past few years have seen advances in cascading style sheets (CSS) and hypertext markup language (HTML) that make Flash unnecessary. Not to mention that Adobe plans to cease support for Flash at the end of 2020.
- Generic Visuals. Using generic visuals — standardized fonts, colors, and layouts — gives a dull look that suggests you don’t have the expertise to be creative. It’s not difficult to choose a color scheme that both matches the mood of your brand and sparks interest in consumers. When you understand that colors are another method of communicating to your visitors, this gives you another tool to tell your story. Circumspectly, generic, dated visuals just give the impression you have no unique story to tell.
Why Does It Matter?
There are some business owners who consider the design considerations of a website to be low on the scale of importance. After all, these are just aesthetics, aren’t they? Well, actually web design goes much further than that, not to mention that it has knock-on effects on other areas of the business.
Marketing is a prime example here. Your website is likely to be one of the most versatile tools in your marketing arsenal, and your design choices make it a more effective and agile one. Your marketing team is likely to be putting a lot of effort into search engine optimization (SEO). However, their efforts (and your investment) in raising your ranking and drawing eyes to your website are essentially wasted if visitors are greeted with outdated web design. SEO must lead consumers to a site that keeps them engaged, and encourages them to explore further,
Up-to-date web design is also a key trust signifier. Whatever your business is, your success is likely to hinge on whether customers feel they can rely on you to provide a high level of service. If your website looks out of date, it doesn’t support you as a credible or competent source.
If you can’t keep your website up to date and user friendly, how can consumers be expected to believe you offer a reliable product? Not to mention that older-looking websites suggest that you’re not in line with the latest security protocols. These are things that can also impact your reputation.
How Can You Change?
One of the main areas you should be focusing on to make an engaging website is user experience (UX) and how this relates to the user interface (UI). The former largely revolves around how much your users enjoy their time on your site, while the latter gives them the tools to navigate around with ease and engage with your services. Without a functional and intuitive UI, the UX usually suffers.
When it comes to UI, you’ll usually be looking to hire a web developer. Unlike a web designer, who will largely be dealing with the aesthetic elements of the site, a web developer deals with the so-called back end. They’ll use their programming skill set to ensure everything your visitors interact with is functional and optimized. Using a full-stack developer can mean you have a back-end developer who also has design prowess — often a more cost-effective option if your website needs that much work.
That said, making changes doesn’t necessarily have to be costly. If you’re willing to put the time in, using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Squarespace can be an effective route to better web design. These systems are often updated with new style templates and can be customized using drag-and-drop elements. Most of them also guide you through aspects you should change in order to improve your SEO.
Your website is one of the key assets of your business. When it looks dated, this sends a message to your customers about your level of credibility and the quality of your approach. However, by focusing on elements such as UX and color schemes, and utilizing both professionals and tools, you can bring your web presence up to scratch.
By Maggie Potter