“A website is nothing until it has good web design.” This was one of the oldest sayings in the web design world. But nowadays, things are changing faster, especially with the pervasive use of free WordPress templates. We can see that today website design is only a single aspect out of many that make a website successful. To prove this, read on to understand why having an excellent web design is not enough.
While I share my thoughts, I would like to make it clear that I am not diminishing the relevance for excellent web design. Web design is important, but a successful website cannot just rely on the design of the website. There are more things that cannot be neglected or ignored.
What is the most important driver of all aspects of your website?
Website Return on Investment (ROI)
The website’s return on investment (ROI) is the most important reason for the website existing and should be monitored. If the returns are not good, either the website needs to be improved (i.e. more investment) or money should be invested in a different venture. We can all calculate ROI, but we are concerned with what drives the ROI. There are many factors that are known for affecting the performance of a website and the ROI of the business. In order to have a better performing website, here are the following factors to consider:
- Bounce Rate
- Heat Maps
- Number of visits and visitors (i.e. sessions and users)
- Time on website (i.e. average session duration)
- Pages viewed per session
- Click Through Rate (CTR)
- Conversion Rate
- Speed of the website
There are other factors to consider, but these are what chiefly drives ROI of a website. These factors must be monitored and each cross checked, meaning you cannot rely on one or two factors. However, at times you may need to focus one factor to evaluate a better website design. For example, if bounce rate is high, you may need to focus on improving content quality, or if average session duration is low, then you may need to focus on increasing the amount of content per page. Or if pages viewed per session is low, then you may need to focus on navigation of your website.
Reasons why excellent web design is not enough
- Excellent website design does not generate organic traffic – There is no doubt that a good design will make your website look professional, but this is not enough and is of no use when you are looking to get the traffic necessary to make your investment worthwhile. Long tail keywords are known for being one of the factors that matter in ranking the website on search engines. Therefore, when good design is accompanied with the appropriate long tail keywords, then will design help to engage the user once they have arrived at the website.
- Website design does not guarantee a lower bounce rate – A proper explanation is required to make this reason clear. Most of the time a lower bounce rate is driven by poor web design and navigation, unless you are buying traffic other than through advertising, in which case shame on you. When you buy traffic, the business you bought it from is probably taking expired domains with traffic and directing it towards your website and that traffic may not be related to your website. If people searching for dogs clicks on bestpet.com and is redirected to your website called bestcar.com, then you are going to see an increase in the bounce rate. To reduce the bounce rate, you need a combination of good quality relevant content, design and navigation and no cheating. And thus, we can see that a great design is not so great if it does not also contain quality content and simple navigation.
- Web design does not make visitors stay – If your website does not have a good navigation and content strategy, then a good design alone will not be able to keep visitors on your website. The reason a user came to your website was to either find information or purchase a product or service. If you do not provide an easy way for users to find what they need, they will look for another website.
- Excellent web design does not mean excellent SEO – Have you seen WordPress themes that claim to be SEO friendly? You can see an example here. Do not be fooled in to thinking this means you do not need to do any SEO work. In order to rank on search engines, it takes a lot more than design. All that a CMS, like WordPress, does is organize information and many WordPress themes help in that effort. A good design can help SEO if the design is optimized to load faster, a factor in ranking on search engines. If you want more information on SEO, please read How to Save Time & Money on Search Engine Optimization.
- Web design cannot replace the significance of the logo – The logo is the first impression for an online business. It defines the company. Web design of a website will constantly change to meet the needs of its visitors, but the logo is what should remain mostly unchanged once you have an established presence online. The logo is what you can trademark and what can eventually set you apart from your competition. The logo establishes trust, therefore it is important to get the logo right as soon as possible.
- Building an email list is more important than web design – Web design alone does not drive traffic to the website. Users may return to visit without any intervention because they found the website appealing, but building up an email list that you can share the latest updates to the website will drive more high converting traffic.
- Web design fails on layout of content – You may be asking, “Layout is part of web design, right?” Yes, layout of web pages, but one major problem that I found with web design is that it fails to address the layout of content of the website. Lately, content is simply being reshuffled to fit on all mobile devices. This may work in the short-term, but having a good comprehensive mobile web strategy that addresses how the content is viewed on various devices is important.
Just because it looks good, does not mean it is efficient.
An excellent web design is of no use until first the user sees the website and second the design helps the user find information. Having user-friendly web design will definitely be helpful, but do not let it be your sole focus. People come back to your website because you have valuable content they want to consume and may overlook a mediocre design. Therefore, content is by far more important than design. However, if you feel you are plagued by poor design, check out the Three Questions Every Designer Should Ask.
Hope this post is helpful and will lead you to better success with your website. If I missed any point worthy of mentioning or if you have any questions, please comment below.