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5 Things to Consider When Designing Your Website

Looking to refresh your website? Starting a new business and ready to set up your online “forever home?”

Well, by even considering these questions, you’re off to a great start… and likely miles ahead of some of your competitors.

Having a functional, accessible website is one of the most important things you can do to secure future business. More importantly, having a sound strategy in place when implementing a new design can:

  • increase your chances of securing leads
  • help solidify your existing customer base

Need some inspiration to get started? Consider these five essential areas when preparing to launch a new website…

1. Efficient Backend Engine

A foundational part of website design, coding dictates how your site will function. In essence, this is the infrastructure of your site. It’s your building material, your foundation – and so, it’s critical that you make great coding a top priority as you prepare to build your site.

With that said, it’s important to consider what goes into constructing a functional, efficient site today. The web development process may have changed a bit since the last time you worked on a website.

These days, web pages aren't the static, lightly-scripted text and image documents of the ‘90s, and developers tend to rely on increasingly robust and ever-changing content management systems (CMS) to get the job done.

Internet users today – that is, you future customers – also expect incredibly fast load times, easy-to-navigate pages, and totally functional forms. As a result, if aspects of your site aren’t working up to their full potential, you could be turning off users before you even get a chance to sell them on your brand.

With this in mind, we tend to believe that it’s almost always better to consult with a professional web developer than to attempt to tackle a project on your own. It’s important to keep in mind the sort of heavy lifting your site may need to do at some point down the road; in a lot of cases, so-called “free” website builders won’t be enough to carry the weight, or provide you with the full functionality that your unique business deserves.

2. Great Frontend Design

Just as important as the backend of your site is the front side – the various page elements and the layout that your visitors see. A lot of your virtual success may come down to having a stellar design concept in place from day one.

Now, like web development, web design is a multi-faceted and complex process, and everyone’s vision for a “beautiful” site is going to be a little bit different. With that said, there are a few foundational elements to keep in mind.

White space, for instance, is essential to creating a visually appealing – and usable – site. If the concept of “white space” feels a little empty, think of it as anti-distraction. If the homepage for Google proves anything, it’s that white spaces can be very attractive and functional.

Extend the concept of white space further, and you land on a core tenet of usability – declutter and streamline your site, and you give your audience room to breathe and act.

Another thing to consider? Your site is your calling card – and the look and feel need to reflect your distinct branding. You may already know that color scheme is important to web design, for instance, but the number and type of colors that you choose can also speak volumes about your brand’s aesthetic. Too many colors are distracting, so pick two or three complementary colors and stick with them. Look into what other major websites are using. Colors, when used sparingly, can encourage specific and prolonged focus from your visitors, and guide users down your conversion funnel at the right pace.

3. Mobile Functionality

In 2018, your users aren’t occasionally using mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets. No – they’re using them all the time.

The average American consumes about seven hours of screen media every day, with smartphones taking up the bulk of that time. Mobile traffic is one of the driving forces of ecommerce, accounts for a huge swath of social media usership, and will be one the primary channels that people use to find and engage with your site.

With that in mind, it’s vital that your website is as quick to load, functional, and visually appealing on mobile screens as it is on desktops. Without an appealing mobile site, users will be quick to move on to other sites. And, in fact, Google and other search engines may actually penalize websites that don’t offer a significant level of mobile functionality.

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

In many ways, ensuring that your brand is positioned highly on search engines is one of the single most important things you can do to get future customers to your site. Every single day, millions of users turn to search services like Google or Bing to find solutions to problems or locate service providers – and you want to make sure that your website winds up in front of their eager eyes.

You can improve the quality of your site and where it winds up in search results by paying close attention to the fundamentals of search engine optimization, or SEO.

You may have heard this term before. But what, exactly, is SEO? 

We’ve written about it before, since we believe it’s foundational to digital success in the modern landscape. Broadly, you may think of SEO as the practice of making your Internet-based content (i.e., your website) more accessible and easier to discover by people (consumers, web surfers, etc.) navigating on the Internet's search engines. 

SEO success starts from the very fundamental build of your website, so be sure to contact an SEO expert to make sure all of your hard work will start being picked up by Google from the get-go. User experience metrics like “bounce rate” and “time on site” will make a huge difference to your ability to rank for search engines, for instance, as will your site’s link structure and your “indexing” by Google.

Just as important, it’s vital that your brand has a content strategy in place. In a lot of ways, consistently creating fresh, relevant, search-optimized content is the most effective way to develop SEO success. Content helps you capture more organic traffic, build up your site, improve user experience, develop links, and generate conversions – all vital to not only the quality of your SEO campaign, but your bottom line as a brand!

5. Calls-To-Action

You probably started your website to generate new leads, right?

Building buzz around your brand and expanding your reach are the tip of the iceberg – but, at the end of the day, it’s all about the sale. After all, if your content and your website aren’t creating value, what are they really good for?

When your readers are digesting your content, exploring your site, and really picking up what you're putting down, how will you make the connection? How will you translate a user landing on your page into a feeling of genuine human connection – and, by extension, a value-generating conversion?

By creating an accessible website filled with quality content, you’ll be able to display your products, services, and expertise, all of which build meaningful relationships with leads and convert them into customers in time.

You can also use all sorts of efficient digital marketing strategies to maintain and develop these relationships. For instance, you may consider starting a newsletter that you can invite your customers to follow; flesh out your social media presence; or offer your visitors something for free - maybe an eBook, an initial consultation, or a trial product.

At the same time, it’s vital that you think about how you can make it as easy as possible for your website to funnel web traffic from the first step (“visitors”) to your ideal destination (“conversions”). This means thinking about the navigation and UX elements of your site, and priming the pump so that users can convert right when they need to – with accessible, functional, visually appealing “call to action” elements, strategically deployed across your site.

Moving Forward

Your website is an indispensable part of any digital marketing campaign, but if doing all this on your own seems like a little too much, let the team at Geek Chicago help! We’d love to help you design your perfect website - and kick off your next digital marketing campaign.

In the meantime, we encourage you to sign up for our newsletter for fresh web development and digital marketing updates, and follow our team on Facebook or Twitter for all the geeky latest and greatest!

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).