Our guide to the benefits of custom website design for small businesses continues here…
In Part 1 of our guide to the benefits of bespoke web design we covered elements such as branding, trust, layout and the downsides of building your own website. In Part 2 we will continue to outline the benefits of using a professional web designer:
As a business owner, you probably have strong ideas of what you believe represents your business. While it is obvious to you what your business is about, this subjective view might not necessarily translate to a wider audience. Perhaps there are concepts you have not considered, or you are not considering certain groups of potential customers who might see things differently. This is where an external web designer can make a huge impact. The designer is looking from the outside in, so he or she is more likely to see the picture from an objective and neutral point of view. The web design can then be created so that it is aimed at the largest audience possible without losing your distinctive mark.
Building your own website has its appeal when it comes to costs, as it is obviously free in many cases! Many websites offer free hosting for life with free site builder software. This is obviously attractive to small businesses with very small budgets. But this is not a long term solution. It is difficult to grow a business when you are giving out the wrong impression from the word go. A “homemade” website looks basic and limited, and that is the message you are predominantly sending. An initial investment in a professional web designer might seem steep, but it will pay off in the long run. A good website design will include a great manageable backend from which you will be able to make regular changes to your website, such as adding new products, editing text and updating your blog. You might need some more complicated changes down the line, but then you can always work out a fee with your designer to make the required changes. In the long term your only ongoing costs are the actual web hosting fees and perhaps the domain name itself.
As your business begins to grow, you might need new features on your website. If you are using a free template you will struggle to add new elements without creating new problems in the template. If your web design is carried out by a professional, however, it will be much easier for them to expand the existing site in the ways you require. This way your website won‘t experience any disruption and the expansion can happen at your own pace.
A large majority of your website visitors will be browsing from a mobile device. What we used to buy online on a desktop computer we now tend to purchase on the move on our mobile phones, but when you are searching for something specific on a smartphone or tablet, and you come across a website that has exactly what you are looking for but then doesn‘t display it correctly, making it impossible to navigate or read, what do you do? Chances are, you leave the site and go elsewhere. Many websites are not ‘responsive‘, meaning they don’t display well on the mobile device they are being viewed on. Responsive design needs to be planned whilst designing and building the website at the start. It is extra work and will come at a price, but can you really afford not to be accessible on all devices? Changing an existing website to a responsive design is more work than starting from scratch, so it is something to consider before you agree to any web design.
Now you have a beautifully designed, responsive website reflecting your brand identity. But what happens if your website has a slow loading time? The answer is simple – most people won‘t wait more than 3 seconds for a site to load. Even if they do wait for the first page to load, if they experience another long loading period within your site they will almost certainly leave then. Fast loading times are essential. Your customers expect instant gratification so online patience is sparse. There are many techniques a good web designer can use to reduce loading times. But these will influence the design itself: a balance of visual elements and optimised, compact page content needs to be found.
Last but definitely not least is search engine optimisation (SEO). A beautiful responsive, fast loading website is useless if no one can find it, after all. Visibility on the web is everything. You want your website to be found in searches so that many potential new customers will visit and purchase from your site. These SEO optimisation techniques need to be incorporated into the design of the website. Amending an existing site can be very tricky and time consuming, so design the website with the required SEO elements incorporated from the start.
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