Creating a Great Website
The digital age is here to stay. Billboards, print and radio ads, TV commercials are quickly losing ground as King Web gains more ground. To stay competitive, you need to pay tribute to the King. You need a website that helps people find you, and helps you turn those people into customers. Plain and simple.
Creating a great website is a little more complicated. Interface outlining, writing, back-end coding, programming… the list goes on. And like an artist or an architect, the end result will largely depend on the person (or team) who created it. Still there are two pillars common in every successful website:
- Good Design and Good Content.
- Additionally, there are two common pillars in every VERY successful website:
- Great Design and Great Content.
Successful by Design
One universal, inescapable fact remains: the importance of website design cannot be over-stated. It can (and WILL) make the difference between your target customer walking away immediately, or taking the time to get to know you and your services better.
A good design is a carefully crafted mesh of information, pictures, and color palates; a place that immediately makes your target visitor feel good about being on the site. (A good design should also be mobile-friendly, but more on that later)
You have two options to arrive at the right design for your website: Custom Designs, and Ready-made Templates. There are benefits and challenges that come with each of these options. As a Custom Web designer, my recommendation is obvious- let’s be realistic. However, I will make an effort to keep this objective…
Custom Web Design Benefits:
Uniqueness: Custom Designs are the key to creating a truly unique visitor experience. Your site will be like nothing they’ve seen before, or will ever see again.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Your site’s SEO is what determines where you show up when someone is using a search engine to find sites like yours. A lot goes into SEO, including (but definitely not limited to) the back-end coding of a website. With an experienced SEO web designer, all that back-end coding can be an extra boost to get your site up higher on the list.
Content Management: Along the same lines as SEO, a hired designer will be efficient in the Content Management System (CMS) you’ll need to keep fresh in order to keep your site efficient and higher up in the rankings.
Flexibility: With total control over your site’s structure, a custom design allows you to create the perfect home for all your content. This also means you have total control over a visitors path during a visit.
Custom Web Challenge:
Expense: Though the cost of a custom web designer can vary drastically, it is still considered to be a more expensive option of the two. Sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot. The benefits of a custom design make it worth at least a few phone calls to see if it’s a viable option.
Website Template Benefits:
Plug and Go: Time and effort can be saved. Populate the template, and publish your content. Some web owners appreciate the convenience of not re-inventing the wheel. This is especially appealing for text-book websites that require little to no special treatment to get their message across.
Affordability: The cost associated with ready-made web templates is (usually) minimal. Some options are even free.
Quick Turn-Arounds: A Template allows you to cut out the middle-man, and add or change content yourself- resulting in faster development time (assuming you have the time- if you don’t have the extra time, it could be slower). Additionally, if you’re particularly web-savvy, you should have no problem handling the creation of the site without any expert guidance.
Website Template Challenges:
Public Access: Even if you pay to use a template, you most likely have not bought the exclusive rights to it. Others may use it, and the best-designed templates may be used a lot. Be ready to see your web’s design used on other sites.
Not SEO Customizable: Since it’s a one-size-fits-all system, the back-end codes will not be SEO-friendly. A template’s back-end coding will not help your search rankings.
Content. (The Noun, not the Adjective)
No matter which development path you take, content need always be a high priority. It is through content that search engines are able to match up your site with potential customers looking for you. Good content is interesting, sharable, accessible, and skillfully weaves in key phrases that your customer will recognize. Content is also important on the back-end programming as earlier noted.
Remember – when it comes to creating a competitive website, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. If you have the time and skill to handle it yourself, go for it. If not, the world is full of good website designers who can handle the nitty-gritty while you spend your time doing what you’re best at: making your business work.
The Mobile Must:
Whether you have a custom design or template, one element of your website must remain non-negotiable. Your website needs to be mobile-friendly (responsive). In short, this means that your website looks good and works well whether it’s accessed from a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone. If web is King, devices are his minions, and they’re multiplying. Gotta keep ‘em happy, or your competitor will.