The utter importance of good design is difficult to overstate. Design can and will make or break a website. While this little fact may seem self-evident to many people, it is a surprisingly easy fact to overlook, especially at a time when free web design software or templates are available to anyone with passing interest. Such tools are great for encouraging more people to use the Internet and develop new skills, however, if you are looking to establish a ‘serious' presence for you or your organization you will be best served by finding someone with the education, tools, and talent that go into good design.
The look and feel of your website is a reflection of your entire business. The more professional your website navigates, reads, and looks, the more professional your organization will appear to the person doing the navigating, reading, and looking. If the navigation is needlessly confusing, the look ‘off' or immature, or the content lousy, the conversion from visitor to customer is far less likely to take place.
There is an abundance of literature on the web regarding what constitutes good design, and why good design is so important. An excellent place to go, however, for views and information on good web design is to the designers themselves. Online forums are not good for everything, but web designers use them a lot, and much of what follows on good design is based upon forum posts from web designers on just this topic.
One web designer pointed out that it takes around 50 milliseconds for a visitor to decide whether or not they like a website. This seems like a rather short amount of time, and it is. However, it does not seem so far fetched when we consider our own viewing and browsing habits. Generally, we know the information, service, or product we seek; the more obviously, reliably, and aesthetically these can be delivered the more likely we are to use the website accessed instead of searching for another, ‘better' one.
With so many websites popping up on any google search most of us maintain a low threshold for abandoning a particular website for another, potentially better one, down the list. In other words, good design means good first impressions. The longer the colors, format, content, structure, etc. can keep a visitor at the website, the better your chances that they will find what they need, buy, bookmark, or come back. Another web designer put it like this, “Presenting the right information to your audience in an easy to find, read and understandable fashion so that they can find what they need fast.” Good design is important because it not only gives your website a better chance of success, but also because it makes life so much easier and pleasant for those of us who spend any amount of time on the web.
It should also be said that good design is not simply a functional characteristic toward which one should strive. The design says something about your organizations attitude and image. “Design”, as one designer put it, “is what articulates your marketing message.” In other words, the relationship between marketing and design is similar to that of thought and message. A marketing plan is impotent until implemented through design. Regardless of the quality of your product or service, it is the design which first must communicate the value of the product or service in question to the consumer.
These are but the main reasons good design is so important; there are more. When setting about to put your presence on the web take some time and find a designer or design that is ‘right' for you. While good design is important, it is also important to remember that what constitutes ‘good design' is relative. Each company and organization must cultivate and project its own unique brand and image. In general, good web design is able to do this in original and functional ways that translate a website's image into a company's success.
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