The wonderful world of website design shouldn’t be a magical mystery tour. Magical maybe, but not mystical. In this article, we’re going to be exploring the many ingredients that make up a successful website design potion. We’re going to be looking under the hood of the process and discovering exactly what makes a great website design work. But first, let’s back up a bit and briefly look at how the internet, the conduit for websites, was started.

Chrome wasn’t built in a day

Basically, Google is a young upstart. A child savant standing on the shoulders of giants. Incredibly, Google was founded just over two decades ago (take a moment to let that sink in) on September 4th 1998. But before Google, even before Windows, back in the early sixties, there were groups of earnest scientists huddled in dusty computer labs at MIT, Stanford and UCLA. They probably didn’t know it, but they were starting a communications revolution.

The men in white

With funding from the US Department of Defence, these scientist and engineers were beginning to develop the fundamentals of the ‘information superhighway’. The results were disparate to start. Different protocols began to emerge. Recognising the issue, the first regulatory body was launched called the Internet Architecture Board (IAB). The IAB formed task forces to tackle problems relating to compatibility.

Old computer to depict the start of the internet

Early forms of basic internet were around in the late ’60s and ’70s. These were mainly being used by academia. It took the deliberate development of a culture of information sharing that really made things change, and fast.

Tim crushes it

After 3 decades of development, along comes our hero, Tim Berners-Lee. He bought it all together and, in 1991, uploaded the first web page to pretty much the same internet that we use today. This is what the first page looked like. On 4 April 2017, Sir Tim was awarded the “Nobel Prize of Computing” the ACM A.M. Turing Prize for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale. More about Tim here.
Much more about the history of the internet can be found here.

Fast Forward to Now

Clearly, we’ve witnessed exponential growth in processing power, internet speeds and the number of internet users since the old days. In addition, we’ve seen an incredible increase in internet commerce. In fact, the figures are staggering. Here are just a few figures to contemplate:

  • There are 1 billion Internet users in the world as of December 2018
  • 98 percent of Internet users in China are mobile
  • The Internet influenced retail sales to the tune of $2.84 trillion in 2018 and is expected to influence retail sales to the tune of $3.45 trillion in 2019.
  • Ad spend on the internet was higher than for TV for the first time in 2017 – $205 billion
  • Over 5 billion Google searches are made every day
  • About 380 new websites are created every minute!

Obviously, the internet is a treasure trove of mind-blowing statistics. You can read more here.

What does all this mean to an SMB looking to use the internet for digital marketing and e-commerce?

Simply put, it means two things. Firstly, you’ve got a whole lot of competition and secondly, that’s a whole lot of possibilities. And so, here we are, back at the wonderful world of Website Design. With today’s internet, you’ll be competing with dozens, hundreds or maybe thousands of companies depending on your target area. Furthermore, many of these competitors will have an appealing website. A website that’s visually attractive, its design is easy to navigate, its design reflects the product and the kind of visitor it wants, and it informs. It informs in a way that motivates contact or a direct sale.

digital marketing and e-commerce

You need a website design that works hard for you

Website design encompasses a lot of skills and many elements. These include the following:

  • Good face to face communication – an ability to understand the client’s business model and branding and offer creative ideas to bring them to life
  • Keeping the web design simple – you want minimal clutter, fast loading and easy navigation
  • Impressive imagery and colour palette – expect a tasteful colour palette that reflects your business. Commission fresh photography that pops.
  • Responsive – your website must scale to fit any device it’s being viewed on
  • Compelling content – include good quality video and images where possible and make sure your copy is relevant, informative and Search Engine Optimised (SEO)

How to choose a Website Design company

There’s an abundance of website design companies out there so how do you choose the right one? A new website is your chance to market your business, make a good impression and drive sales. Therefore, it makes sense to spend time researching the right website partner for you. We suggest you gather a shortlist and then follow these simple steps below.

  1. Look at their work online
    It’s easy to check out the quality and style of each company from their portfolios online. Is their work interesting and are the clients of good quality? Be careful because if they only have a few samples then they may be inexperienced. Don’t be afraid to ask for references.
  2. Have a budget to work to and ask about their pricing
    Obviously, it’s a good idea to have a website budget but just remember; if this website works as it should, it’ll be worth a lot to your business. Pricing can be a minefield. Firstly, you may not know all the jargon and you can be easily confused. Secondly, websites are complex and there are lots of elements involved. Therefore, make sure your contact is clear about everything and make them explain the techy terms. Transparency is key.
  3. Are they listening to you?
    During your initial meeting make sure the company are engaged with you. Are they asking good questions and making suggestions that will bring your brand to life?
  4. Who will be your contact and what support do they offer?
    Make sure that if you commission the company to design your website that you’ll have a contact that you get on with. This would preferably be the actual designer working on your site. Beyond that, if the designer isn’t available, who would deal with your issue or query?
  5. Do they use templates or custom design?
    Website design companies that use design templates are cheating. You should expect your design to be unique. Ask the question, if they say templates then walk away.
  6. Can I make my own amendments to my website content?
    You’ll want to avoid having to pay the design agency every time you want to add a blog or change some of the text on your own site. The most popular CMS (Content Management System) is called WordPress. This allows you to make changes easily.
  7. Is website design their whole business or can they do more such as prepare a Digital Marketing Plan?
    A great website design is only part of your effective digital presence. Ask about a Digital Marketing Plan (it can include a new website) to really boost your business returns online.

chosing a website design company

Conclusion

So, there we have it, a brief look at the wonderful world of website design. Hopefully you’ll have a better idea now of what’s involved, what to expect and how to choose your ideal website design partner.