Skimp Or Splurge? Should You Hire A Graphic Designer For Your Website?
When building your business smarter, faster, cheaper every dollar counts. But sometimes you HAVE to invest in yourself because the payout and potential is much more than the initial investment.
What about your website? Perhaps it is your 1st website, 10th website, or you are re-doing your website that looks more like 1997 than 2010. Awesome.
How do you go about it? Do you purchase a template? Create a custom site? Design it yourself?
I’ve created several websites and based on my experience hiring a graphic designer can be one of the most beneficial investments you can make. Here is why:
5 Reasons You Should Splurge On A Graphic Designer For Your Website
1. First Impressions Matter: If you want to look professional when people find you through Google, Facebook, Twitter and other sources of traffic, good design gives you a massive edge. You wouldn’t invite people into your home and not have any furniture would you (unless you would…in that case you are weird).
2. Clients Comparing Websites: If clients and customers are browsing between you and competitors, which many are, your design matters. Shoppers are ADD. Think about the last time you compared companies. Would the simply, dynamically designed site win your sale compared to the site from 1998 with a little construction guy digging?
3. PR: We entrepreneurs know that media (online and offline) can be huge for growing your business. When journalists come to your website (and spend a SPLIT SECOND on it), do they see something that is easy-to-navigate and professional? Or do they see a mess?
4. Personality: Your shining personality can be brought out by a good graphic designer and reflect in your site. Remember, people want to do business with people and not just faceless companies.
5. Stick Out: Good design allows you to separate from the pack, which is ALWAYS a good thing. Fitting in is so high school.
The World Wide Web is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to market your business. For this reason, it is very important that you update your website to keep it relevant, fast, and safe.
Trends in web design change almost daily, so it’s good to keep up with them. Regular design updates can actually save you money. It’s not about “keeping up with the Joneses” – it’s more about keeping up with web standards. Consistency while browsing the web is important, especially for those who aren’t savvy with technology.
Additionally, search engines like Google are constantly updating their algorithms to provide the best search results. Updating your website to best address these updates is critical to maintaining your site’s ranking.
#1: Visual Appeal
The appearance of your website is a direct reflection of your business. You need to position yourself and your company as an authority in your field. First impressions are vital to portraying this vision, so it is critical that you redesign your website regularly to stay on top of the latest design trends.
Likewise, if your site looks outdated and structured poorly, potential clients may subconsciously think that your business is outdated and structured poorly as well. Your website should highlight your products and/or services in a positive light that encourages visitors to find out more about you, which potentially leads them to hire you or purchase your products.
Your website should also be designed to look nice and be easy to navigate on multiple device types. Regardless of whether visitors view your website from a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone, it should dynamically adjust for each of these devices. You don’t want to alienate any potential clients, so it’s imperative that you maintain a responsive design that accommodates all modern devices.
You hear stories all the time about websites getting hacked. The most publicized ones usually include a defaced homepage that shows some terrible message about who hacked your website and why they did it. However, there are many other sneaky ways that hackers use to compromise your website. Sometimes they will hack into the backend of your website and use it as a spam server, which can slow your website down to a crawl and eventually gets you blacklisted. Blacklisting means that your web address (domain name) is added to naughty lists on servers all over the world that block others from visiting your website and sending email messages to you. As you can imagine, that could be a big problem for your business.
To protect you, your website, and your email from being hacked, one of the most important things you can do is to make sure your website’s software stays up-to-date. Whether you are using WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or other content management system (CMS) or even hand-coded files, you need to make sure that these programs and software keep up with modern technologies.
Another consideration is your hosting account — make sure you are hosted with a reputable company that cares about security. Sometimes there are some extra hassles that come along with security, but they are worth it in the long run.
First impressions may be mostly controlled by the overall design of your website, but that is only the beginning. Once you’ve grabbed their attention, you need to further interest them with great content. Your written words should be interesting while also providing important information about the products and/or services you offer.
When updating or redesigning your website, this is a great opportunity to fine-tune your content. Be sure to write copy that is simple, on-target, and effective. Remember, you only have 2 to 4 seconds to engage your visitors and hopefully convert them into customers — this isn’t just about wowing them with graphics — you have to use keywords and phrases that grab their interest.
From a marketing standpoint, your website’s effectiveness is critical. You need to keep an eye on your statistics — see what visitors are clicking on, which pages they visit, and how long they stick around. In addition to watching your statistics with a tool such as Google Analytics, there are other ways to study the effects of your website. Techniques such as heat mapping, conversion tracking and user recordings can help you better understand how visitors traverse your website and what causes them to contact and potentially hire you.
One great way to make your website more effective is to make use of calls-to-actions (CTA). A call-to-action (CTA) is a button or link that you place on your website to drive prospective customers to become leads by completing an action on your website. You need to make sure that your CTAs are clearly defined and are interesting enough to your visitors that they actually follow them. In a nutshell, you need to make it easy for your visitors to find the end goal and help them get there.
#5: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Now that you have a beautiful design and well-written content, you need to update your SEO settings so people can find you. SEO rules are constantly changing — you may have read articles about Google updating their algorithms — every time the search engines make their own updates, your website is potentially affected. You need to stay on top of the new iterations; the longer you wait, the further behind you become.
When you update your website’s appearance and content, this is a perfect opportunity to also update your SEO settings. These might involve reassessment of your newly-updated content, but it may also involve updating the underlying code associated with the new design. When you have your website redesigned, it is important that your web designer consider these options as he/she is rebuilding your site.
Visitor trends change as technology changes. For example, a common design aspect just a few years ago involved the notion that the most important information on your website needed to be “above the fold”. This meant that when a visitor viewed your website, you wanted to show them the most important features without requiring any scrolling. Nowadays, the majority of visitors use their mobile phones, which actually encourages use of your finger to scroll.
Another important usability feature has to do with navigation. Most websites these days use horizontal navigation, which is great on devices with larger screens. But when viewed on smaller devices such as tablets and smartphones, the navigation system needs to adjust accordingly. Modern websites often use what is called a “hamburger menu”, which is a small icon consisting of three horizontal lines. This symbol is now universally recognized as a button that opens a menu. In the case of smaller devices, the menu is displayed as a vertical menu, with enough spacing between each menu item to accommodate finger tapping.
#7: Load Times
These days, it is critical that you grab the attention of your visitors within seconds of their arrival to your website. While all four of the points above play a part in this process, none of them will be applicable if your visitors become impatient waiting for your website to load in the first place. Loading times have become so important that even Google is rewarding sites that load faster with better search results placement. Yes, that’s right — Google will place you higher in search results if your website loads faster than those of your competitors.
There are many factors that contribute to load times, including image sizes, optimization of your website’s file system, page caching, and even your web hosting account. There are methods available for optimizing all of these factors. If you serve many local clients and have a lot of traffic to your website, you should avoid “shared” web hosting, which accounts for the vast majority of hosting providers. Talk to your web designer and/or developer to find out more about options to speed up your website.
Security, SEO and content updates should be done at least monthly, in most cases. It’s important that your website be a safe place for you and your visitors, and content needs to be accurate and up-to-date.
Usability and effectiveness updates could probably be performed during an annual website audit.
Design and other updates, such as a design refresh, are recommended every 2 to 3 years – and even that can be a long time in terms of technological advances.
The points above are only seven of many ways to keep your website updated, fresh, and appealing to visitors. While there may be other reasons your websites needs to be updated, these are some very compelling reasons to consider doing so. DUBUB Marketing Agency includes these features into our Website Packages. We also provide ongoing updates and improvements through our Website Care Plans, which allow you to run your business instead of having to spend precious time on updating your website (and taking the risks involved in handling them yourself).
As we enter into a new golden age of design, good design has never been more important to the success of a business. Consumer awareness of good design is at an all-time high, thanks to companies like Apple, Target, and Starbucks, who make design a top priority.
The most successful companies know there are compelling reasons to prioritize design to improve the odds of success. Good design creates meaningful first impressions, helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors, can solve problems, and boosts brand awareness and the bottom line.
Why should your startup or small business invest in quality design? Let us count the ways…
People have a very short attention span. In fact, according to a Princeton University study, snap judgments count. The study found after seeing a face for only 1/10th of a second people formed opinions about that person. Judgments were made on attractiveness, likability, and trustworthiness, and prolonged exposure to that face just reinforced the initial impression.
The same goes for websites. Three studies found that a mere 50 milliseconds were all people needed to form an opinion about a website. Google performed similar testing and found an even slimmer margin: a speedy 17 to 50 milliseconds were all people needed to decide how they felt about a website.
The results show that both visual complexity and prototypicality play crucial roles in the process of forming an aesthetic judgment. It happens within incredibly short time frames between 17 and 50 milliseconds. By comparison, the average blink of an eye takes 100 to 400 milliseconds.
When people first encounter a website or marketing campaign a number of questions go through their minds:
Who is this?
Is it trustworthy?
Is it credible?
Is it professional?
Am I in the right place?
Does this have what I want?
Think about what kind of first impression you want your customers to have. If you want to appear reliable and trustworthy, make sure your website design is cleanly laid out and uncluttered. Want to seem fun and exciting? Look into bold color choices and use imagery that has energy. Informative and useful? Put content up front and make it easy for people to navigate and find.
Effective design can go a long way in making sure your customers’ first impression is a good one.
An example of how Apple uses the principle of design consistency to good use.
Attractive design helps you stand out
Marketing studies show that the average American is exposed to around 5,000 advertisements and brands per day. Out of that veritable flood, they found only 12 made enough of an impact to leave an impression. You can help your business be one of those twelve through effective, attractive design.
Often when consumers are faced with a decision between things with similar features or benefits, they go with the one that they either recognize or that has a more pleasing design. Smashing Magazine’s Steven Bradley explained it well:
Human beings have an attractiveness bias; we perceive beautiful things as being better, regardless of whether they actually are better. All else being equal, we prefer beautiful things, and we believe beautiful things function better. As in nature, function can follow form.
Cognitively speaking, both of these are obviously buttons. Neither button is ‘wrong’ as in our previous example. However, research into attention, persuasion, choice, happiness, learning, and other similar topics suggests that the more attractive button is likely to be more usable by most people.
Use well-established design principles when creating brand assets, websites, or anything else that your customers see. Creating attractive experiences will go a long way to help your business stand out.
Good design solves problems (yours and your customers’)
How something looks is important, but addressing your customer’s problems is one of the most effective ways to leverage good design.
A good way for you to figure out what these problems are and how to address them is to use a technique known as “The 5 Whys”.
Toyota founder Sakichi Toyoda created the “5 Whys” technique to uncover issues with his company’s manufacturing process.
Created by Toyota founder Sakichi Toyoda as a way to uncover technical issues with his company’s manufacturing process, the 5 whys are a simple but effective process. First, you state the problem. Then you ask yourself “why?” five times.
Let’s look at an example.
Problem: Customers don’t understand why our product is better than our competitors.
1. Why? Because people think both products have the same feature set and functionality.
2. Why? Because our marketing concentrates more on building brand awareness and less on product awareness.
3. Why? Because our website doesn’t clearly state what our product does and what value it provides.
4. Why? Because our competitor does a better job of educating consumers on how to use their product effectively.
5. Why? Because we don’t know how to speak to our product’s target audience in a clear and effective way.
You can ask more than five questions, but five questions can typically help you work out what problems you need to focus on.
Another important part of solving problems through good design is having success metrics so you know when a solution is actually working. This can take many forms. Pure numbers (more conversions, more sign ups, more people clicking), higher customer satisfaction, or fewer calls or support tickets are just a few examples.
Whatever “whys” you decide to tackle and how you measure your success, addressing internal or external problems through good design can go a long way to improve your reputation and reach.
Here’s something to be wary of: badly designed websites are often not read, trusted or visited for any length of time. That means that more than ever, design is playing a crucial role in making sure your business attracts and retains a customer base. John Maeda, design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, says:
Top companies are leading with design. Others that aren’t willing to invest in design because they think it can’t be measured or tied to ROI will fall behind. Business as usual is no longer good enough. Mature industries that have focused on more, better and faster now need to adjust their thinking to include design as a key value differentiator.
The idea that design is fiscally beneficial has been proven time and again. In 2005, a group called The Design Council studied 63 portfolios of companies that traded on the FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) over a ten year period. Companies that put an emphasis on design outperformed the FTSE 100 index by 200%.
It’s becoming more difficult to get the attention of consumers when they are overwhelmed with choice. Tellingly, Adobe’s 2015 report on the State of Content emphasizes that with 15 minutes to consume content, 66% would prefer to view something beautifully designed vs. simple and plain.
Want to stand out as a brand worth noticing? Beautiful and thoughtful design is the way to do it.
Design connects you to your customers
Great designs use color, layout, and smart font choice to connect to their consumer in meaningful, emotionally driven ways. Incorporating impactful, memorable, and emotional connection in the visual display of your brand is the best way to show the world who you are and what your brand stands for.
Create valuable, sustainable customer relationships by building your brand’s visual identity on the foundation of emotional connection. There’s no better way to secure consumer loyalty than by connecting you through your shared values, and a great design is the most effective way to illustrate them.
Ready to take the next step? Give me a call at (877) 636-7739 Extension 100
First impressions is usually the influence that gives the biggest effect. With a business, this is your website! Your website is the poster child for your company. It is typically the first place your customers will visit to get an insight into your company and the services you can provide for them. In this case, it is extremely important to keep your website up-to-date and focus on the content that you are producing for your website.
So why should you update your website?
Hot off the press content frames a trustworthy relationship with your clients and your new potential clients. It is extremely important to keep your content up to date as the content produced is what your clients have confidence in.
It is also suggested that modernized content aids to build domain authority.
Websites will promote you 24/7: No employee will — Paul Cookson
One of the main reasons for updating your website is for security reasons. If your website is hacked, it is going to cause issues for both your business and your clients as vital information can be stolen. With security issues also comes a lack of trust between the business and the client.
The main reason for any website being hacked is the exposure in the platform. For example, If a vulnerability is found in a platform such as CMS Made Simple, then hackers will target these sites as they all share the same vulnerability.
A tip to ensure your website is secure is to carry out research about the platform you wish to use. Is it updated regularly? Does it provide security features?
This is not an option or a trend, it is an absolute must for your website! This allows users across several unique devices and platforms view your website with ease.
Smartphones and tablets are more of a common standard and will remain this way for a very long time! Optimising your website for your customers needs is vital.
The advantages of mobile friendly website include:
You can reach more customers.
If your website is not optimized, you can potentially loose out on revenue for your business. Do not frustrate potential customers.
You company will be known as a modern more relevant company.
As a business, your reputation is significant. Are you really going to let your reputation be ruined because your website is not optimized?
Retro may be a cool design trend to use but what is not cool is outdated technologies and it’s functionality. As the digital world is constantly changing and updating, what was awesome today maybe be not so awesome tomorrow. With this in mind you need to stand out from the crowd. Research trends, new technologies and search for inspiration for both your designs and functionality.
Also a few pointers to acknowledge is: Has your company changes its approaches and directions? If so, the driving force behind your website may not reflect your company and needs an immediate update.
Staying fresh and up-to-date is vital for your company. Clients first opinion of your website can have a great aftermath on your business.
Remember the key phrase: Your website is a poster child for you company.
Never let your website go stale, start this year off with an update to your website and maintain it. You never know who is watching your website and the benefit it may have for your company.
This article was written for business owners who are considering building a new website, but they’re not sure whether that website will produce an ROI.
Whether you’re doing online advertising or not, the quality of your website, and how well it is optimized to convert visitors into leads, has a direct impact on your bank account.
How Do Your Prospective Clients Evaluate You?
Let’s imagine a scenario: you’re a medium-sized business who’s seeking to expand your scope and pull in more high quality clients, resulting in higher paying jobs for you and your team. Perhaps you want to push into a new area, or start offering a new type of service, so you reach out to a company that handles lead generation and online marketing.
That’s a great step! But have you considered your website lately? Even the best online marketing and lead generation campaigns are not going to result in top-quality leads if your website isn’t strategically designed to turn your visitors into customers. If you have an older website – or worse, no website at all – you’re losing out on a large chunk of the clients you’re trying to attract, and missing out on a ton of opportunity to make more money.
Your 24/7 Salesperson
Having a website that’s strategically designed to be intuitive, engaging, and effective can drastically increase the amount of quality leads that you receive. It’s like having someone available 24/7 to answer customer questions and gather contact information that will lead to one-on-one conversations.
One of the most important aspects of a well designed website is making sure that your site is designed solely with the client in mind. You want a site that’s got easy-to-find information, no matter where your customer starts off. Something that includes effective CTAs (calls to action) that make a customer feel as though there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain from providing you with their contact information.
You want to make sure that you’re using a multi-tiered strategy; for instance, if a customer comes to your page from a blog you shared on social media, you want to give them an easy opportunity to get more information without having to search for it.
You also want to be sure that your website is mobile-optimized. As more and more people browse the internet on their phones and tablets, having a website that’s slow to load or difficult to navigate on a mobile device can cost you valuable clients. Not only that, it can also cause your website to rank poorly on Google, as search engines have begun to penalize sites that are not mobile-optimized.
Why Have a Website That’s Designed to Convert?
You may be asking yourself “well I already have lead generation, I have online marketing, isn’t that enough? Why do I need some updated, fancy website?”
The simple fact of the matter is that in today’s world, a potential customer will assess you based on the quality of your website before they assess you on an individual level. Your website is an extension and representation of your business. It’s a place where you can post photos and reviews, provide information, and build trust with your potential leads, and it’s where they will look before deciding whether or not to contact you. If your website is a single, outdated landing page with minimal information, or is so poorly designed that it’s impossible to navigate, you’re going to be missing the chance to connect with the clients who could potentially take your business to the next level.
Furthermore, you’d be surprised how successful a modern website can be in conjunction with high-quality online marketing and lead generation services. By focusing on inbound marketing – that is, pulling potential clients to you through social media, SEO and SEM best practices, blog articles, white papers, etc – you can better hone your lead generation efforts and make sure that you’re getting what you’re paying for. A better website that defines the customers you’re looking for and the work you do can help narrow the focus of your lead generation, resulting in more leads that turn into jobs and fewer leads that turn into headaches.
5 Reasons Your Website Is Not Getting Traffic
Getting traffic to your website is no easy feat.
There’s more competition than ever.
Consumers have short attention spans.
And technology is constantly evolving.
As someone who owns a business, I understand it can be extremely difficult and confusing to try to keep up with all of this and get attention for your business.
The Core Problem with Website Visibility
The foundational challenge here is that business owners don’t know where to start. There’s a ton of information out there and just making sense of it all can be a full time job.
It’s for this reason that we recently started offering complimentary Website SEO Audits. We take a look at your site and your online presence and provide you with a 24-point analysis of what’s good, what’s not so good, and your areas for improvement.
After doing several of these audits, we’ve picked up on some common issues that hold you back from getting exposure for your site.
1 – Your Site Lacks Relevant Content
In order for Google and the other search engines to display your site in search results, they need to know what your site is all about – what you do, for whom you do it, and where you do it. At the very least, your site needs to contain information about the services you offer and your geographic service area.
And you need to make an effort to provide some context. One thing we see over and over again are bullet point lists of services. While this tactic once worked relatively well, Google has caught on and is now focusing more on the context of all of the site content, rather than just a few bullet point lists.
Action: Choose your top 3-5 services and make sure you have a dedicated page on your website about each one.
2 – Your Site Lacks Descriptive Tags
If you’ve learned anything about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or online marketing, you may be familiar with Title Tags and Meta Descriptions (meta tags or keyword tags used to be important, but are no longer relevant).
The meta title is the title of your page that shows up in search engine results. Similarly, your meta description describes what your page is about.
Below is an example from the About page on our website, so you can see how we’re using the title and description to tell search engines and prospective site visitors what this particular page is all about.
Titles and Meta Descriptions are extremely important to have on all pages of your site. This is how you tell the world who you are and what you do.
If you site lacks titles and descriptions, it’s going to be nearly impossible for you to rank high in search engines.
Action: If your site is built on WordPress, I recommend downloading the Yoast SEO plugin, which makes this process simple. If your site is not on WordPress, you probably need to sit down with whoever manages your website to accomplish this (or call us).
3 – Your Site Lacks Off-Site Authority
Search engines have gotten much better at analyzing your entire web presence, not just your site. This means that if your company information (Name, Address, Phone Number, Web Address) is only on your website and nowhere else online, it’s going to be extremely difficult to get traffic.
Google sees any other occurrence of your NAP (name, address, phone) on the web as a little vote for your site. The more high quality votes you have, the better off you’ll be. Google wants to know what you’re a real, legitimate company, and this is one way that they judge you.
Off-site authority can include social media profiles, directory listings, industry websites, and any number of things.
Action: Google your company name. If nothing but your website shows up, you probably need to build up your authority a bit. Again, get in touch with your marketing team or let us know if you need a hand.
4 – You Haven’t Embraced Social Media
Like it or not, nearly all business is social these days. As noted above, search engines take note of your social media accounts and how active they are. It also helps if you have your social media accounts linked on your website. This is not only good for search engines, but it’s what your website visitors want to see as well.
In addition to having your social media profiles linked on your site, you should also be updating your site regularly with news, blogs, new projects, new photos, etc. Then, when you share those updates on your social media profiles, you’re putting more tentacles out onto the web that give you more authority and generate more traffic to your site.
Action: Make sure your social media profiles are linked on your website where people can see them. If you’re not on social media, my recommendation is to pick one or two and commit to updating at least weekly.
5 – Your Website Is Not User Friendly
If your website uses old technology and/or does not offer users an optimal viewing and browsing experience, you’re going to struggle to rank in search engines, get traffic, and get new business.
We’ve seen too many websites that rely on old Flash technology, which doesn’t display on mobile devices.
We also see too many sites that don’t have a mobile-friendly or responsive site, which means that it’s very difficult to view these sites on tablets and smart phones.
Why is this important? If you track your website traffic with Google Analytics or another tool, you’ll see that around 40% of your website visitors are visiting your site on a mobile device. If your site doesn’t display properly for these people, you’re putting yourself at a sizeable disadvantage when it comes to winning their business.
These are all factors that search engines are putting more weight on so they can continue to serve the most relevant search results possible.