Friday, 19 September 2014

Why A Well Designed Site Is Important?

Websites are a necessity for every business today. Though some still continue to operate without one, but most of them realize that they cannot continue without one for long. Sooner or later they will need a new site or existing one redesigned. I wrote this post titled “5 Strong Indicators That You Should Redesign Your Website” which should give you a good idea as to when your site needs a redesign. But one thing that continues to amaze me is the number of badly designed sites that people continue to have. How did they end up with such sites? There can only be two answers to this: either they hired a terrible designer or agency; or they designed those sites themselves or forced their design and ideas on the poor designer. In the later case, I always recommend the designer or the design agency to sack the client in such a situation. Anyway, in both cases, the business looses. So a combination of a good web designer and an educated client who is willing to hear and learn is important for a well designed site.
well-designed-site

What Is A Well Designed Site?

When we say a well designed site, we do not always mean a good looking site. A very artistic site, or one that is lousy looking but functional, may both not be the right choice. An artistic design may please the owner of the site but the site may be extremely difficult to navigate or to find the desired information on the site. Same goes for a terrible looking site with good content, as it may prove extremely difficult to command respect or trust of the audience. There has to be a balance between form and functionality. One has to ascertain first what is a well designed site? Is it simply the looks? Is it just the content? Or does it depend on the amount of functionality a site has? A well designed site would mean understanding the business objectives of the client and their end users, and designing a site that works to achieve these objectives in the most efficient manner.

Right Advice and Guidance

It is a very important step towards a well designed site. It is important to understand the requirements for the site first before one can move in the right direction. Many web design agencies would ask clients a series of questions to understand their requirement better. There are no fixed questions to ask, the objective is to understand the purpose of the website, and any questions that help you to understand those objectives are good questions. Once the purpose of the website has been understood, the designer can then guide the client in the right direction.
It is important to tell the client about social media and why it is important; how blogging can be good for the business etc. You cannot expect a non technical business owner to know the features that would help his website, so someone has to explain these to the business owner so that he can make an informed decision. However, if the design company itself is inexperienced, then decisions can be taken which may not always be in the best interest of the business. Like most business owners won’t know the difference between static and a CMS site. CMS has its advantages compared to a non updating static site. And if a business understood the difference between them, they would usually opt for the CMS version, though it may be a little more expensive than the static version.

Advantages Of A Well Designed Site

A well designed site would follow the accepted standards of coding and best practices. These best practices could include anything from valid HTML markup to optimized content and layout for a faster loading site. So, once we have accepted the definition of a well designed site, we could go ahead and discuss the advantages of one.
  1. A More Professional Design

    Who says looks don’t matter. Look at the time people spend in just making one presentable and the amount of money, energy and time spend on such activities. Website is no different. You have to spend time and energy in creating something worthwhile that you can present to your clients. It starts with a good looking presentable site. After all, your customers will create an opinion about your business by judging the quality of your website. Of course, the design would depend on who the website is being built for. If the target audience are little children, one would do well to use bright colors and things that appeal to children. Similarly, if the website is for other business, a more professional looking design would be suitable.
  2. Valid Markup

    It is very important to use valid HTML & CSS to design your site. Correct usage of markup and CSS makes sure that your websites conforms to the W3C standards and uses industry best practices. Validated mark up not only decreases the chances of errors on different browsers, but also makes the site render as intended and possibly could make the site faster. Moreover, it is always better to do things the right way than do it shabbily.
  3. SEO Friendly

    Search engine visibility is big today. And why shouldn’t it be, when it has the potential to put your website in front of so many customers looking for your products and services. A well designed site should be SEO friendly and should take into consideration the major points that affect search engine visibility. Some factors include a user friendly site with good content, valid html, fast loading site etc. SEO is a combination of many factors and not just one. So the most number of factors that work in favour for you site, the better. So a well designed site goes a long way in making your site more SEO friendly.
  4. Cross Browser Compatibility

    It is important to have your site render well in all browsers and not just your favourite one that you use. While designing one has to keep in mind back ward compatibility with older browsers too. Remember everyone is not using the latest browser and one has to use keep in mind the user experience of these users as well. Your site should be cross browser compatible. The problem is, different browsers may render HTML markup slightly differently, which could cause your site to render differently on different browsers. The problem is compounded when one is using the latest markup language likes HTML5 which is supported on newer browsers only. Therefore, one has to include options to fall back on when viewing the site on older browsers, so that the user experience remains consistent throughout. You can check your site for browser compatibility here.
  5. Faster Loading Sites

    The faster a site is the better. Today no one has the patience to wait in front of a browser for your site to load. They will abandon your site and go somewhere where they can find something quicker and faster. So it makes for a good user experience to do whatever you can in your power to make your site go faster. There are a few things that one can do like caching your content; minimizing / optimizing the size of images used; not to use unnecessary flash animations that take ages to load; minify JavaScript, html and css etc. Perhaps, the most important factor is the time to first byte (TTFB), I am sure it won’t hurt if I call it the server response time; so it makes good sense to host with a reputable hosting provider. It could be expensive, but hey, you want your site fast right? Hosting is definitely not a design component, but a well designed site should incorporate the points I mentioned earlier. The best way to check your websites page speed is to use a service like Google PageSpeed Insights, where it not only shows you how you are doing, but also recommends the steps to take improve your site speed. So a well designed site should be fast loading too.
These are just a few examples, I am sure you could think of a lot of other advantages to a well designed site. Please feel free to mention them in the comments below.
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