Monday, 18 July 2016

Why Beautiful Website Design Matters


Why Beautiful Website Design Matters


As a digital marketing specialist, I look at a lot of websites each month; websites across all industries, all styles, simple ones, complex ones, and of course, stunningly beautiful award-winning websites.



I, much like everyone else, enjoy admiring beautiful things; be it a sleek website, a serene painting or a thought-provoking sculpture. But what separates websites from pure art is that websites often, if not always, have a commercial intent behind them. 

This is an important distinction to understand. When I’m assessing websites, I don’t base a website’s worth on my own emotional response to the website, but on the data uncovered from under the hood that tells me how well the website is performing for the business.
Some of the questions that go through while auditing websites are:
• Will the website be found by the target market and how exactly will they find it?
• Will the visitors be engaged and how will the metrics reflect this?
• Will the website increase conversions and what constitutes a conversion to the business?
• Does the website have a clear business purpose in the first place?

THE PROBLEM WITH AWARD-WINNING WEBSITES

I keep coming across websites that are visually stunning, but that have absolutely no thought put into the commercial intent of the website, not to mention ensuring that the website is friendly towards search engines, in effect, discoverable and readable. This essentially means that the website serves no purpose and the money and time spent on it is wasted.
From a business point-of-view, in the online environment a beautiful website is simply not enough and we should stop the proliferation of awarding websites that concentrate purely on the aesthetics. If it’s not discoverable by search engines, no matter how sleek, it doesn’t fulfil its core purpose and is therefore a failure, not a winner.

BEAUTIFUL WEB DESIGN ISN’T THE HOLY GRAIL

The digital space is brutal for website owners, with surfers having the attention span of a goldfish when navigating the online jungle; click here, search there, open in a new tab, view this video, all within seconds. Unlike painters and sculptors, web designers can’t rely on people to pause or stop in their tracks in awe when coming across their artwork.
In Order to determine what exactly constitutes successful web design, we should be looking at analytics, not base our judgments on subjective opinions.
Data scientist W. Edwards Deming put it quite nicely:
“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”
To determine how well-designed a website really is, we should be looking at:
• Bounce rate
• Heatmaps
• Time on page
• Number of pages visited
• Customer journey and drop-off rates
• Exit rate
• Site speed
• Video views
• Outbound clicks
• Conversion rates
However, web design is merely one piece of a bigger puzzle.

WEB DESIGN AND SEARCH ENGINES CAN WORK TOGETHER

The modern search engines are sophisticated bundles of complex algorithms that look at over 200 signals when determining the purpose and value of a website. In fact, most of these signals are seeking to replicate human cognition, making them quite smart at evaluating websites from a holistic perspective.
There’s no need to decide between a well-designed and search engine optimised website; these are not mutually exclusive disciplines and never have been. Much like a human, a search engine that’s evaluating websites does also place value on visually pleasing design that engages audiences (as determined by engagement data in analytics).
But in addition to this, it would also focus on the signals that convey the intent of the website, as well as how easy it has been made for search engines to understand this purpose. This is something that current website awards don’t consider.

WHY DO YOU OWN A WEBSITE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Building a website based on the mantra of “making the Internet a little nicer” doesn’t compute with search engines that try to decipher what value the website offers to other people, not to mention business owners seeking to see a return-on-investment on their website.
The biggest secret search engines try to decipher about your website with the help of their bundles of complex algorithms is the purpose of the website. By first understanding yourself what you’re trying to achieve with your website, and then making it easy for search engines to understand this purpose, it will be much easier for the engines to pass on this information to people searching for your business or services online.
Hope you enjoyed it.
Aloke

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