How do I choose a website design vendor?
In our opinion, the best website design firms educate their clients, making them feel knowledgeable and empowered during the web design process. Testimonials and past experience of a web design firm are important. Review past work to see whether you like the end result.
It is important to keep in mind that building an effective website is not just about design. It is about building excellent technical foundations such as web hosting; making sure you have control and access to your site (usernames, passwords); and creating a website that encourages digital marketing and communications. Your website designer should be able to tell you what they will do about SEO, content marketing, and web hosting.
Finally, “fancy” design does not necessarily increase the effectiveness of your website. Simplicity of design and the ability to get people to take action when they visit a site are very important.
What do you mean by “take action”?
The days when websites were merely static online brochures are gone. When people visit your site, you want them to do two things: keep clicking on more pages so they don’t bounce off the site, and take further action: click on your bio, on articles, on your social media links, and ultimately, contact you. These actions are called CTAs, or Calls to Action. They should be a part of nearly every website.
What is a “bounce”?
A bounce is when someone visits one page of your website, such as from a Google search, and then leaves the site after visiting the page. Bounces are not inherently bad – it may be that the information on that page was all they needed. But most of the time, the goal is to get people to explore the content on your site more during each visit (commonly called a “session”). Therefore, low bounce rates are desired.
So, part of website design is building links between relevant pages to encourage site visitors to stay on the site, learn more, and take action. Effective web design encourages these actions.
What you mean by “take further action” and Calls to Action?
Effective website design combines words, images, spacing, and colors to help people get what they need out of your website. It’s what is called UX, or user experience.
A typical Call to Action, or CTA, is a button that visitors can click. What color is the button? Is it located at the end of an important piece of information? What text is inside the button? These are all part of creating effective CTAs, which lead to “conversion” – someone taking an action that you have designed. That action can include purchasing something, signing up to an email list, or clicking on a bio to learn more.
Why does web hosting matter?
Not all web hosting is created equal.
Most people build websites so that audiences can find and “consume” the site’s content. That is done through search engine optimization (SEO), a series of actions or factors that help your content rank high in online searches. One of those factors is the speed of your website, as well as whether your website is on a secure HTTPS connection. Site speed, secure connections, and other features are usually improved by using high-quality web hosting accounts. The technical aspects of web design should not be ignored, including the ability to test out new features on a staging site.
What other technical aspects of website design should we consider?
Every website should be built with the ability to create metadata for every page of the site. Metadata are images and titles/descriptions of web pages that appear on social media and online search results. If you are rebuilding a site, old web pages should be redirected to new web pages, which sometimes will have different links than the old pages. Finally, every website should be “registered” and connected with Google Search Console to improve search rankings. Also, be sure to have a good backup plan. Websites can always be improved. But if the data that comprises your website is lost without backups, your site will be completely lost.
Web designers and developers should also help you regularly maintain your site. Websites that are not maintained with code updates don’t just stay the same, they get worse.
How much does it cost to build or rebuild a website?
This is like asking “How much does it cost to purchase an automobile.” It all depends on what you want and need. For example, building an ecommerce site will normally cost more to build and maintain than a non-ecommerce site. (FYI, Open Road Digital does not build ecommerce sites, but we can recommend vendors who do.)
One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes websites do not need to be rebuilt from scratch. Instead, they can be steadily “optimized” or improved in order to improve the effectiveness of the site. This can be done by creating improved navigation, adding Calls to Action, restructuring content on pages (sometimes called “on-page SEO”), improving site speed, migrating to a new web host, and publishing new and improved content.