Why small businesses need a website and a web designer?
There are over 125 million small businesses globally. The geographical boundaries for businesses small or big are slowly blurring, thanks to the digital age. Today, small businesses have access to a market above and beyond their area of function. According to survey 58 percent of small businesses already have international customers, while 72 percent plan to grow their international customer base by 2017.
With 3.4 billion internet users out there if your business has not gone digital yet, chances are you are missing big time. According to Google, the majority of searches come from mobile devices, even if a desktop is available
However, small businesses are still struggling to have a digital presence that brings them business. Below are some stats to accentuate this fact:
- Over half (52%) of small businesses do not have a website
- 97% of all small business websites are ineffective
- 94% of all small business websites are NOT mobile-friendly and will not render successfully on mobile devices or Smartphone's
If you are wondering why do you really need a website when the globally small businesses have not followed the suit yet. Then you must consider the below stats
- 30% of small businesses with a web presence generate more than 25% of their revenue online
- 91% of customers have visited a store because of an online experience
- 37% use the Internet to find a store at least once per month
- According to Google’s 2015 data, 50% of consumers who conduct local searches on their Smartphone's go to a store within 24 hours, and nearly 20% make a purchase within a day
- Of the small businesses that have websites, 69% of them are having annual sales of $1,000,000 – $2,490,000
So, if you have still not paid heed to your digital presence, you must do it now!
Benefits of having a web designer:
It is advisable to hire a web designer to get a website design that suits the needs of your business. Building a website is a one time job, however if done right it can drive huge revenues for your business. Here are few way a web designer will help your business
1) Increase your business credibility
The modern customer searches for a product before buying it. And, if your product is not online, or if you have a crappy looking site, they are less likely to trust you. Having a professionally designed website will boost your brand value.
2) Increase your conversions
A webs designer will make sure your website can drive conversions by optimising it your site for conversions. Getting the right CTA’s, navigation, and the overall navigation on your site plays an important role when it comes to driving conversions, and a right web designer will help you achieve that.
3) It helps you save money
If you are thinking website will add to your costs, you are wrong! yes it is a onetime investment but it will also help you save a great deal of money, as it will also serve as your promotional medium. So if you are considering advertising the traditional way a website is way cheaper than that.
4) Keep your customers informed
Customers who regularly buy from you or want to buy from you are likely to look for your new products or more information about your products. Now it is not always possible to build catalogue or a brochure all the time and even make it to available to your customers. Updating your website with proper information is way more easier.
Before you embark on your digital presence journey, here are few trends which you must be aware of to build a contemporary website:
1. Customer’s attention
With millions of brands vying for customer’s attention it is more than possible that your brand will need to stand out. Further, as you start building your web-design you will have to keep in mind that there is stiff competition to gain customer attention online. Customers are influenced by your online brand presence, ignoring it can be a death row for your business. You must aim to build a positive and contemporary impact of through your web presence on customers.
2. Businesses now rely less on custom code
As long as digital platforms have existed, website development has been considered to be a complicated job requiring high-tech design firms and a lot on investments. That however has changed. Today there are plethora of platforms that make website development easier and faster. There are a lot of drag and drop platforms which has taken away the complexities from the website development. So even if you are a small time business, you can get an awesome website with minimal investment within few days.
Further, as the process has become less complicated it is even easier to change how your website looks. However, you would still require basic coding to customize the front-end design of a site, for almost all platforms.
3. Motion user interface (UI) are becoming popular
Today most of the websites are more and more dynamic and interactive. As users time on internet is increasing the need to get engaging websites is also increasing. However, adding motion to your website takes more than just placing some videos and caricatures to your website. Since humans are most receptive visually, smart use of motion UI throughout the website will help brands create websites which are engaging. Further, due to the advancements in the data compression, there is no risk of slow load times as well.
4. Lines between B2B and B2C experiences are blurring
Today’s technology savvy users are accustomed to seamless digital experiences. And, this expectations is no different when it comes to B2B industry as well. One of the reasons of such expectations has come from the popularity of the e-commerce websites. And, e-commerce is continuously raising the bar for other industries to provide digital experiences that are loved by their customers. Slowly, the B2B market is learning from B2C and offering customers a similar engaging experience and making the sales process easier for them.
5. Internet of things changing the web landscape.
Internet of Things is emerging as an innovative trend across industries. In terms of website development as well, IoT has taken it to a next level. According to a research it will grow by approximately 32% by 2019, with 1 Billion connected devices. And, startups which are even less than 3 years old, will contribute to almost half of the IoT development.
IoT helps in connecting various smart devices and enables exchange of data which was only a dream of distant future in the past. As IoT grows we will see web development innovating too with upgraded solutions to help users connect and communicate with.
What is the web design and how many types of web design?
So if you are new to the process of web design then read on.
What is a web design?
A web design is all the design elements and layout which form a website, this includes website layout, website structure, UI, design elements like colors, images, fonts, CTA buttons etc.
What are types of website layouts:
Static Page Layout:
Static websites are those which have a fixed width and it does not changes to the width of the browser or the platform. Though the advantage of a static website of that iit requires lighter code and loads faster. The disadvantages of this kind of website is that you can’t update content on it. In the age of mobile it is advisable to have a responsive website. (hyperlink it to that section).If a user is seeing your website on mobile they will have to zoom and scroll to see the content of your website that can be rather annoying for them.
Dynamic Website Layout:
Fixed design Layout:
A fixed design website is a website that covers a fixed width with each component having a predetermined width. Most web developers believe a width of 1024X768 or higher is good as most users browse in that resolution. However, when the browser or the screen in extended or shrunk the images and text may visually become misaligned.
Responsive design Layout:
A responsive website adjusts itself to the width of the browser or the platform mobile, tablet or desktop accordingly. It's the most popular choice of design in today’s mobile age. It makes website presentation much more simpler and easier to navigate irrespective of the platform you are accessing it from. Websites created using responsive design are designed to display different content as the browser is expanded or reduced to predetermined sizes. Responsive website also adjusts the volume of the content according to the device you are accessing the website from, prioritising the content basis your device.
Liquid or Fluid design Layout:
Liquid/fluid design website adjusts itself according to the width of the browser or the device on which you are accessing the website from. Since the content expands to fill the space across the width hence the name of this layout is liquid or fluid design. This kind of website helps immensely when you want your website to work across browsers and platforms. It also sets apt width for the videos, content or images on your site.
Single page design Layout:
Single page design layouts are minimalistic website design which keep your website scrolling to few quick scrolls. These websites are mostly compatible with almost all the browsers and devices. These websites work best when there is not much information on your website and linear scrolling help users to easily navigate through your website.
Features of web design.
Getting your website design right can be an overwhelming process. However, if done right can lead to great results for your business in the long run. Here are 10 features which you must include in your website for making a aesthetically and technically perfect website.
1. A clear and search engine friendly road map
The first thing you must do before you start designing your website is build a roadmap or a wireframe (as called by designers) for your website on how it will work. Remember the flow of your map should be such that it is user friendly as well as SEO friendly, since it is important to rank in the search engines. Sure, a website should be aesthetically pleasing, but it's more important for it to be useful. Concept check your wireframe before you actually begin developing your website.
2. Critical business and product information
Most developers make a great deal about the non important elements of the website like the about us page. However, they ignore the most important business and product information or make it not easily navigable. That is a grave mistake. Uses have limited time in hand and it is important for you to give them what they came looking for. Your mission and vision statement can have minimum text and should appear after the most important information.
3. Contact Information
This may sound elementary, but there are a lot many businesses out there which do not give contact Information upfront. Most of the time a visitor on your website looking for contact information are the ones who will convert easily and when you don't make it some for them to contact you are giving away your business to competition on a platter. Even of you are not comfortable giving out a phone number, make sure you at least have an email id mentioned and most importantly you respond to emails well in time.
4. Easy and clear Navigation
When you are developing a navigation strategy be clear on what you want your visitors to do on the site. Subscribe? Ask for quote? Buy a product? Etc. Once you have defined this make sure you put yourself into the visitor’s shoes and try to visualise what would be the most easy user journey for them to reach the specific action you desire.
5. Take robust Security measures
Security is a major factor website should consist of specially if you are selling something online. Make sure your site has a SSL certificate. This will make sure that your user data is encrypted and is hack proof.
6. Social Media Integration
Social media is an integral part of users’ life. Make sure your website has your social media channels integrated. This will not only help in boosting your presence on the social media platforms, should your users are kind enough to visit your channels and like and follow your page. It will also help you to boost SEO for your website. However, make sure your social media channels is updated with engaging content.
7. A Mobile-Ready Version
In today’s mobile first world it is critical for businesses to make sure that their website in mobile friendly. Developing a responsive website in this regards is a smart choice to make. A responsive website will enable your website to adapt to the required width according to the device screen size or browser window size.
8) Frequently asked questions (FAQ) section
Even if you put enough information about your business or products on your website, there are chances that there will still be questions which your visitors would like to have answers for. While it might be difficult to answer all the question make sure your FAQ section takes care of the most common and critical questions.
9. Good Hosting
Not having a good hosting is a big mistake. Having a good hosting will make sure that your website loads easily. A slow website is not just annoying for your customer, it is also detrimental for your SEO since a slow loading website can lead to higher bounce rates. Further most search engines are equipped to detect the loading speed of your website and if your website is slow it will drop down on the search engine ranking.
10. Finally stay away from these features
A website with a simple UI and which is to navigate through is the best. While creating a simple design to keep it clutter free you may choose to avoid these features:
- Music - it serves no purpose
- Autoplay videos and music - it's annoying.
- External media and information - this will make your site slow.
A Website Design and Development Process.
Very few companies realise how important is providing a delightful user experience while developing a website. A website manier times is the first impression that any user has of your company. If you have a crappy website you might end up losing a potential customer no matter how good your actual product/service is.
So what is a web development process that will make sure that your website attracts the visitor and drives engagement? A Web development process is a process of outlining the steps that needs to be taken in order complete the process of website development.
Standard process flow:
1. Planning stage
This is the most important stage of the web development process, where the road map for the entire project is created and this is the stage where the developers and clients interact id-depth about the project.
The steps in this stage are as follows
- Requirement analysis - understanding and deciding on project goals, target audience etc.
- Project charter - Summing up the required information for reference in later stages of the project
- Creating a sitemap
- A document contract with your development partner with project deliverables and financial agreements.
- Determining third party needs.
2. Design stage
In this stage a site structure is determined. It this stage a site structure and visual representation of the site is determined. The steps in this stage are as follows:
- Wireframe and design elements planning
- Building site mock-ups
- Reviewing and finalising the mock-up design
- Writing the basic HTML and CSS code for the agreed upon mock-up design. Interactive elements can come later.
3. Development stage
The major programming and loading of content work comes under this stage. It is advisable to keep the code organised and commented and it should be constantly matched with the planning details. The steps which come under this stage are:
- Building and developing a framework.
- Developing Code templates for each page type.
- Developing and testing the interactivity of special features.
- Add content
- Finally test links and functionality
4. Launch stage
In the launch stage the website is made open for public viewing. During this phase the design elements are refined, interactivity of functionalities is tested and the user experience test is done. Steps in this stage are:
- Moving the website to a web server
- Refining the website and identifying improvement areas
- Moving the website to a live server
- Run a final test
- Do a browser check for multiple browsers.
5. Post-Launch stage
This is the phase where the website s handed over to the business owners. Developers should make sure that they package the source files properly and provide instructions for use. Both business owners and developers should ensure that there is proper handover process that happens during this stage. Steps to follow in this stage are:
- Handing off the website and making sure that all contractual requirements are met.
- A user documentation is created with instructions of use
- Closing of the project with last checks should be done.
The above mentioned process can also change according to the nature of the business as the process flow of a e-commerce website can be different from that of a product development website.
How to choose the right web design company or web designers?
There are thousands of developers out there vying for your business, starting from a big enterprises to one-room businesses to freelancers. It is easy to find a developer but it is hard to find the one which actually understand your business requirements and delivers according to your expectations. It can be a daunting to choose a perfect web development partner for your company which will help you achieve your business goals. Here are few tips and qualities which you must look at while choosing a web development partner:
They Listen, appreciate and understand Your Ideas
No one understands what you do better than you. If a web developer doesn’t pay heed to your ideas chances are they do not appreciate your business. To create a website that your users will love to engage with needs a deep understanding of how your business functions. A web developer will need to understand, listen and appreciate your views before they even start working on the project.
They value add with innovative ideas
As detrimental it is to have a developer who will not listen to your ideas, a developer who brings nothing new to the plate is even more risky for the success of your business. A website developer who is not innovative and does not brings innovative ideas on plate will end up making a website that is also deprived of innovation. To stand out and outperform your competition you would not want to risk your business to a partner who lacks imagination.
They have marketers in their team
A marketer on the team will make sure that your website is in line with what today’s customers expect. A developer might be able to design a website which is good looking a marketer will make sure that the website is user friendly as well.
They Have a live websites on which they have worked to showcase
The great way to judge a website developer is by seeing their work and analysing any live website they have developed. So make sure they have live work which they can showcase.
They are in the business for a long run
Your website is the face of your business and to make sure that it is developed by a team who will not vanish in thin air is important. Further if they have experience they know that the web space changes very fast and they have resources to manage the change and implement that to your project.
They know the importance of creating a website that drives conversion
Your website is an asset which you expect to drive revenue for you. Make sure the web agency you choose understands this too. They believe in a website which is geared for conversion is important.
They Have a multi-industry experience
Don’t make the mistake of choosing a developer who has worked only in one kind of industry, even if that is your industry. If they have worked only in your industry your website will end up looking like all others in the market. you certainly do not want that.
Quality does not come cheap
Your website is the most important element of your business. If a web developer is asking too less even lesser than the industry standards it is apparent they do not have the muscle to deliver a good project or haven't done so in the past. If a web development is asking for a higher or standard rate chances are they have been delivering projects at that rate and their customers pay that to them for the quality the offer.