Welcome back to the Entrepreneur Zone- our new series that covers the basics of Digital Marketing to aid new business owners in starting their marketing journey. Last month, we discussed choosing the right domain extension for your site. We will follow the next logical step this month, designing the site itself.
Today, we will explore terms you need to know, the basics of design, design elements to avoid, and trends that we see in 2022.
Website Design Terminology
Accessibility: Ensuring that your website is built with the ease of use of all people in mind.
Above the Fold/ Below the Fold: These terms are holdovers from the days of newspapers; when the paper was folded, those headlines above the fold received the most attention. On a website, the fold is the point where you cannot read further without scrolling. Like newspapers, the content above the scrolling threshold receives the most attention on your site, while content below the fold is seen only by the most interested consumers who want to learn more.
Application Programming Interface (API): APIs allow two different computer programs to communicate and share information. For example, an API links your site's payment feature to the credit card processor, securely sharing needed information.
Back End/Front End: Think of the back end as the behind-the-scenes of your website: the servers, database, operating systems, and software that make the site work. The front end is the customer side of the website: the visuals, features, and coding that your customer will interact with.
Content Management System (CMS): CMS is a tool that allows non-designers to change the content of their website easily.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS): This markup handles the visual design of your website. It sets items like colors, font, and alignments.
Call To Action (CTA): CTAs are the actions that you would like your website visitors to take, i.e. fill out a form, buy now, read more.
Favicon: These are the little logos on the tab next to the website name. These small images are another branding tool for your website.
Metadata: This provides search engines with the information needed to determine if your site should appear in the search results for specific keywords. It consists of page titles and descriptions that explain the content and purpose of every page on your website.
Plug-In: This is a set of code that can change a site's functionality without recoding the site itself. These 3rd party codes are created to add features or correct issues in your website easily.
UI Design: UI stands for user interface. The focus of UI is on design and interactive elements like swiping, scrolling, and clickable features, and is focused visually to set the tone, brand identity, and mood to increase conversions. It works well in conjunction with UX design.
UX Design: UX stands for user experience. Its purpose is to build a website around how the customer will use the site, building frameworks, and information hierarchy to create an easy-to-use responsive website. This is a data-driven research-based approach, and it works well in conjunction with UI design.
Schema: This is a set of definitions created by Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo. Adding this markup style to your HTML improves your SERP display and potentially Click Through Rate by providing information in the forms that the search engines prefer to understand your content.
Sematic Mark Up: This is a way of writing your HTML to focus on the meaning of your content to aid search engines in better understanding the difference in the types and importance of content on your website.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP): As its name suggests SERPs are the page of results that is shown during a query. This will include all results, both paid and organic. Effective SEO will aid your website to show up first organically on the SERP page.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization): This is a multifaceted approach to improving how search engines understand your website to increase your ranking. For more information on the types of SEO.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Certificate: This security protocol is required by Google to rank. It allows for a secure encrypted connection between servers and web browsers.
Website Design and Development
Choosing your website colors
Color plays an important part in our everyday life, affecting our interactions with the world around us, including how we interact with brands. I know what you're thinking. Is color that important? Sure, we all have a favorite color. Still, it's not like the colors in my logo or website affect my sales, right? According to Brand Minds, "Research shows that the proper use of color increases brand recognition by 80%. It also raises the visual appearance by 93%. A further 85% of consumers buy because of color."
For a full breakdown of each color and its meanings.
It is so easy to think of your website as a technical item and not put much thought into design beyond a cursory "how does it look." But web design is not just about how a website looks; it is also about how it makes your audience FEEL and how it encourages them to ACT. The design can excite you about a product and lead you to conversion when done correctly. If you are not putting time and attention into your website's design, you leave money on the table. Visual Hierarchy is an important tool set to ensure that your website creates the right atmosphere to sell your products to the world.
For a full breakdown of the visual hierarchy concepts.
It is important that when you design your site and your content, you are incorporating the needs of all of your users by creating with accessibility in mind.
Here are a few ways to make your site and content more accessible:
1) Ensure that your page titles accurately state what information is on your page. Make sure that each of your pages has a separate title.
2) Include Alt-text for all your images. This information should state what is important about the photo. If the picture is not important, it should have a null alt.
3)Utilize headings properly and ensure that they are correctly marked up.
4) Properly utilize color to ensure the contrast provides an easy-to-read format.
5) Plan accordingly to allow your text to remain legible when the browser resizes the text.
6) Design your site so that users do not need a keyboard to access it fully.
7) Design your site to allow for user control of any moving, blinking, or scrolling information.
8) For Podcast, Live, and pre-recorded videos; it is important to remember to provide captions, descriptive transcripts, and sign language.
One thing that the pandemic did for us was to prove the importance of a strong digital presence. In 2022, you cannot have an effective marketing strategy without a strong website to anchor it. Let's look at a few elements that are needed to ensure a high performing site:
1) SSL Certificate: An SSL Certificate is required to protect your customers and provides the ability to rank on Google.
2) Mobile-first design: More than 50% of your website traffic will come from a mobile device, plus Google now only indexes the mobile version of your site for ranking.
3) Core Web Vitals: Load time, responsiveness, visual stability, etc. See our article next month on SEO for more details.
4) Written Content: Your website copy must conform to your company voice, be devoid of grammatical and spelling issues, and clearly show how your products will improve your clients' lives. You need to use the principles of storytelling to develop an emotional connection with your prospects. Focus on informing, entertaining, and connecting. Note that the more interactive your content is, the better!
5) Visuals: Videos, Videos, Videos, and great eye-catching images too. Video is the king of content these days. People expect entertaining and impactful video content, not just on your social accounts but on your website too. If you have not already built one, make a company YouTube Account for easy video embedding on your site.
6) CTA: People like things to be easy. Don't make them work to convert.
Design Elements to Avoid
There are several design elements that we commonly see that often hurt more than help site user experience, sales effectiveness, or SEO.
1) Pop-ups: I don't know about you, but nothing annoys me more than being interrupted by a pop-up. The goal of your website is not to annoy your site visitors; it is to ease their path from information gathering to purchase. Study after study shows that pop-ups increase bounce rates and offer low conversion rates. Think twice before placing a pop-up on your site. If it is not vital to your business, which it rarely is, leave this trend in the past.
2) Placing your social accounts links in a prominent position. Don't place these links in high-value areas, like above the fold; they are better suited to the footer of your page in your contact information section. Yes, you do want to have links on your website, but the goal of social is to drive business to your website, not the other way around.
3) Contact forms as the only method of communication. Communication preferences vary from person to person. Your website has to be set up to offer options that match every possible style. Phone, email, forms, live chats, and links to social for communications should all be offered. Limiting the options for communications limits the opportunity for sales.
Design trends of 2022
The key themes we see for 2022 revolve around simplicity and interaction. Minimalist designs break through the noise online, focus on being clear and concise and careful, and use white space paired with eye-catching elements. Accessibility is vital for websites today. It is important that your website meets all your customers' needs and does not alienate anyone. As you design your site, focus on being uplifting. We have all had enough negative lately; uplifting designs are an eye-catching change of pace.
For full details on these trends, check out our article Web design trends for 2022.
Can I build it by myself?
Your website is your most important investment. Though for many who are just starting their businesses, the cost of professional web design teams might feel like a waste of money. After all, several platforms out there make it easy for those without coding skills to design a website; why would you need to waste money on a professional design team?
1) Template websites set you up for looking indistinguishable from your competition. Online, your look is one of the key things that sets your company apart. If your website looks like your competition, you will find it difficult to build a clientele and truly compete with that competition.
2) Basic template websites often don't offer the types of functionalities that provide a great user experience. User experience is key to keeping interested customers on the site and making the sale. 42% of consumers report that they have left a website due to poor functionality.
3) Many of these templated websites lock you into staying with their hosts and on their platforms. If you want to change your hosting provider, these templates are not designed to zip up easily and move to a new provider. This can leave you having to start from scratch and rebuild your website if you ever want to leave their services.
4) Many templates design options lock you into their data analytics. So many times, we have had small businesses come to us because they are having issues with the analytics provided by these template sites; for example, their data goes missing, or they have problems with the report functions. Sadly, these templates don't often allow plug-ins for Google Analytics and won't let you leave their services with your site intact. Not having accurate data will severely impact your ability to make marketing decisions.
It is now easier than ever to build a site without coding skills or knowledge. It is important to do your research and make sure that the templates you will be using do not lock you into a position where changes in the future will cost you more than having a professional build your company's site from the beginning.
A simple site built in an easy-to-use (for any skill level) CMS built by a professional is an investment that can grow with you easily in the future.
Your website is the most important marketing tool you possess. A great design can set your business on the path to success; the wrong design can lead you desperately searching for sales leads.
You guessed it — It's time for the Sales Pitch!
(I know you have been expecting it, so we won't disappoint.)
I'm sure by now you have discovered that Lionzone Digital Marketing created this blog, Surprise! One of my absolute favorite features of our services is that we don't believe in long-term contracts!
We believe this — If we don't earn your business every day, we don't deserve to keep you!
— Let us earn your business & assist your company with its Digital Marketing needs. You won't regret it. —
Contact the LZ team today at email@example.com or (615) 235-3200.