In Indianapolis, along with everywhere else, businesses simply must have a strong online presence in order to grow. There’s no other way. From social media profiles and paid advertisements to search engine optimization (SEO) and web designing, a company’s online assets are important now more than ever. The Internet provides the world with instant communication and access to knowledge never before seen. In just twenty years, the number of Internet users shot up from a quaint 45 million to more than three billion today. Never in human history have three billion people done anything together, let alone instantaneously.
Along with every other avenue in life, business has dramatically changed due to the World Wide Web. Consumers expect more information, faster service, and better methods of searching for what they want when they want it, and the Internet has delivered those wants to them -- for a price. Businesses are compelled to be up-to-date and completely thorough in their online services. Home pages. Online ordering. Troubleshooting. Inquiries and customer service. Things once done in person, telephone, or by mail have been completely taken over by the Internet. As the Internet grows, so do consumer demands.
The upside for business, however, is that companies are able to get more done and grow at a phenomenal rate. Look no further than Facebook and Amazon to see how enormous Internet-based companies have become. Businesses can sell, buy, trade, lease, rent, manufacture, communicate, and market like never before -- anytime, across the world. All with the click of a mouse.
Businesses serious about growth, both locally and beyond, need a robust Internet marketing services and website designing in order to survive. Here at MyNetWire, we realize the potential for growth, which is why we specialize in website design. First impressions matter, so our job is to design websites that draw users in from Day 1. How do you do that? By creating web content that is not only high quality and pleasing to the eye but also doing it in a way that will draw attention from the right sources -- i.e. local users, search engines, targeted parts of the market, etc. Whatever a business does, whomever it appeals to, its website is its best -- and first -- asset to have for reaching out, marketing a brand, and growing.
What does web design entail, exactly? As you may imagine, quite a bit! Website design involves marketing, communication, interface, layout, still and motion graphics. To better illustrates the several facets of website design, here is a list with a detailed explanation of each:
- Marketing and Communication: This is a critical component of any business, online or off. What makes it unique (and challenging) for websites is that the website must reflect the company’s brand in every possible way. From the typeface and the colors in the background to the mere placement of media files, a website is more than just a bunch of links strung together. The details of successful marketing for website design are vast; the strategies quite sophisticated. In fact, every aspect of web design takes marketing the brand into consideration in one way or another. Take, for example, the next point.
- User Interface: User interface (UI) simply refers to the way users use a website. Ostensibly, UI is one of the most important aspects of a website. After all, a business can offer great services and products and can present itself very well in writing but without a clear, reliable interface the user won’t be able to appreciate all of that! The design and implementation of user interface is the building block of any website.
When discussing user interface, there are two components to keep in mind. First is the actual user interface: what the user will see. The website may have, for example, a continual scroll as opposed to a limited one -- an option popular for websites that want to be mobile friendly. It may have its “about” page linked directly to the homepage or it may have it linked elsewhere. The graphics may be at the top instead of the bottom in order to better attract customers. The company’s logo may be featured once or several times on the same page. These options and more are things user interface designers have to think about when building a webpage from scratch.
The other component of UI is known as user experience design (UX). User experience design can be described as the initial setup of UI. That is, it provides the “blueprint” for the website. To use an analogy of building construction, the UX would be the architectural design of a building. What the building will look like. The building materials used. The layout of the rooms and offices. Etc. Once the basic framework is laid out, it is the job for the interior designer (which in website design is the UI designer) to flesh out the building. They decide what floors to use, what blinds to install, the colors of the walls, and the layout of the lobby. Etc. The two aspects of website design, much like building construction, go hand-and-hand. The best websites are those that find a balance between the two.
- Page Layout: Page layout has been around since...well, pages themselves! The same sort of principles designers use when constructing web pages were used by medieval monks when creating manuscripts. Where should the text be? Images? How much space should there be between lines. How big is the font size? Etc. With website design, however, the electronic format allows for more space and diversity in putting content on a page, something the monks with their lambskin parchments and quill pens didn’t have!
As Sitepoint.com explains, there are four main types of layouts: fixed-width layouts, fluid layouts, elastic layouts, and hybrid layouts. Fixed-width layouts are the most traditional kind. Under this layout, pages are binded by a certain amount of pixels (usually 960 pixels). The advantage of fixed-width is that it is relatively straightforward. However, computer screens larger than 960 pixels present problems. In contrast, fluid layouts base their size on percentages, rather than pixels, affording them more space and flexibility. Another layout, elastic, is similar in its flexibility (as indicated by its name) but with one key difference: instead of being measured by percentages, elastic layouts base their design on ems. What is an em? An em is a standard of measurement based off of the number of pixels the typeface of the website uses. For example, if the typeface size is 10 pixels, 1 em is equivalent to 10 pixels, 2 ems is equivalent to 20 pixels, and so forth. This layout is popular with website designers for its convenience. The last layout design, hybrid, is a mix of two or more layouts on the same page. A hybrid layout may feature a fluid layout for the sidebar but an elastic layout for the table of contents. The last three layouts are very popular nowadays with the advent of smartphones. Because websites are expected to cater to both desktop and mobile devices for Internet use, fluid, elastic, and hybrid layouts are in high demand.
There are many other codes and elements to consider but the important thing is this: page layout is quite complex, taking considerable knowledge of program coding and design for it to succeed.
- Motion and Still Graphics: Graphic design handles the non-textual components of communication. That is, any image or video, no matter how rudimentary, fall under graphic design. Images and videos must be coded in a certain way in order for a) the user to see them and b) for search engines and other Internet services to see them. Programs such as Adobe help website designers embed media files and plugins like Flash help the user see them better. Without motion and still graphic design, a webpage would be more-or-less an essay-like forum -- and no one wants that!
- Search Engine Optimization: The last point mentioned here is relatively new (at least compared to the points before it) but is rapidly increasing in popularity. What is search engine optimization? SEO is the process of designing a website in order to better attract search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo! Search engine optimization relies heavily on website design. Google “crawlers” (i.e. programs that scour the Internet for relevant content) look for certain qualities when searching for and indexing websites. The job of a SEO campaign is to create web content that matches what the crawlers are looking for.
To better illustrate how it works, let’s say you own a bakery and want a SEO campaign for your website. Your website would be structured in a way that includes certain keywords and phrases that would attract a crawler for users who search for bakery-related things. By using keywords like “bakery stores,” “cakes,” “personalized cupcakes,” “local bakeries,” and “eclairs” for example, the website has a higher chance of being noticed and indexed by the crawlers.
Why does SEO matter? Because of the results. The better a SEO campaign is, the higher the website will be placed in a search results page. And the higher the placement, the more traffic and notoriety it will receive. Moz recently cited a 2011 study which indicates that the number 1 position of a Google search results page receives 18.2% of all click-through traffic. That is an astounding number! The second position receives 10.1%, the third 7.2%, and the fourth 4.8%; the others receive less than 2%. If your website is ranked within the top ten, if will receive on average 52.3% of the click-through traffic for that search inquiry. That means that more than half of Google users will most likely check out your website at least once.
So in order to ensure a robust SEO campaign, website designers build websites to best reflect the wants of search engines, which in turn reflect the desires of the users. And given that more than 100 billion search inquiries are processed every month, that search engines are a $16 billion industry, and that 93% of all sessions on the Internet begin on a search engine, businesses would be wise to take advantage of SEO!
Now, having going through the nuts and bolts of website design, you may still be wondering about the bottom line: Will better website design mean better profits? As with many business questions such as this, the answer is yes and no. As KISSmetrics shrewdly points out, an improved website will generally mean an improved revenue. However, that depends on the goals of your webpage. If, for example, you want your webpage to be more informative and you do not sell anything online, a solid website design may not yield high sales. If you’re primarily interested in boosting sales, it’s important to get feedback -- constant feedback -- from the users. Conducting surveys and polls is a great way to see what your website needs and what it doesn’t. Performing tests on your website will also help in that regard. Don’t let up with the surveys and tests. Without them, you will not gain the valuable direct insight from users, who are really what website designing is all about.
Companies large and small are taking advantage of the World Wide Web through website design and other services. It used to be that only the large corporations needed a website. Now, practically everything needs one! At MyNetWire, we understand the pressing need for clear, fast, and stylish webpages. Our services and dedicated team of designers, programmers, and marketers will cater to your every online need. For more information, feel free to leave a comment or question at the bottom.