4 Common Web Design Misconceptions

Friday, March 11, 2016 1:00 PM

As we find ourselves settling into 2016, it's surprising to think that people are still underestimating the importance of a good website. Companies that should be online aren't, and companies with an existing online presence think that merely existing is enough. Both are critical mistakes that could have a profound impact on business success.

When users land on your website, it takes them an estimated 10 seconds to determine what you do, and whether you'll meet their needs. If the first impression is lacking, they'll leave and possibly take their business to your competitors. The inability to captivate potential clients within the first 10 seconds or less has the potential to actually detract business.

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) reports that Canada continues to be one of the most wired countries in the world, with approximately 87% of Canadian households connected to the internet. Canadian internet use is also experiencing a shift towards mobile devices, with 49% of Canadians accessing the web through their smartphones and tablets. These statistics demonstrate the opportunities that exist for businesses to increase and improve their online presence in order to increase their customer base.

Considering the importance of web presence for business, it's important to give web design as much credit as it deserves. After all, the foundation of any great website is great web design. With that in mind, the following are several common web design misconceptions to be aware of.

1. Once the website is done, the job is done.

Successful web design professionals know that the job is never done. Even with great coding and slick design, the eventual appearance of bugs is unavoidable and inevitable. Depending on the size and complexity of your website, you should expect to invest at least a couple hours a week for your site to be updated and have any issues fixed. Reputable web developers will offer monthly maintenance packages to ensure you get the best value out of your website by having it professionally monitored on an ongoing basis.

Additional considerations include changing trends, feedback from users, and even your company's own growth. All of these factors can contribute to the need for making changes to your website, from minor content changes to major design overhauls.

Dwight Schrute says that websites are never done.

2. Web design is fast, easy, and cheap.

Don't be fooled by appearances. Even minimalist, clean-looking websites require countless hours of time and effort to develop. Designing, coding and testing all take time, as does communication back and forth between the client and developer to ensure wants and needs are met. Sure, there are companies who offer template-based websites you can build yourself, but that will leave you with an unmemorable, generic website that won't exactly generate a lot of traffic. On the other hand, professional web developers offer an array of services to help you create a user-friendly website, custom-made to meet your company's unique requirements. They know how to make your website secure, how to optimize it for search engines, and they keep up with new web design trends and emerging technologies. Getting to that level of quality, precision and professionalism will require an ongoing investment on your part.

Web design companies exist for a reason. If developing an aesthetically-pleasing, functional, professional website was easy, the professional web design market would be significantly smaller. When opting to take an "easy" DIY approach to their website, people will often end up spending significantly more in the long-run than it would have cost to hire a reputable professional. This can include struggling with fixing bugs, adding new modules, trying to make modules compatible, and performing updates. Worst-case scenario? The friend-of-a-friend who put together your website moves away or disappears along with your website access.

3. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

"More is better" is one of the biggest misconceptions in web design. White space is not a bad thing, and many reports indicate that minimalist designs attract users better than over-the-top, cluttered ones. Your website is a professional, online venue to advertise your business, so the way it's designed should not only reflect your own preferences, but those of your existing and potential customers. While you might want to add an audio feature that auto plays when your website opens, studies have shown that most users find this annoying. If you believe music would add to your users' online experience, consider striking a balance by including a visible play/pause button to your page. Ultimately, it's all about circumstance. The most important factor is for your web design to stay true to your nature of your business and clearly communicate what you're offering.

An example of an overly busy tanning business website.

4. Let's just copy my competitor's website.

Using other websites for reference in your own design process is okay. You can refer your web developer to elements you like from other websites, but you should never attempt to copy someone else's site. In addition to creating brand confusion, there are legal, copyright issues at play, especially with respect to content. Professional web designers are able to provide guidance regarding the development of your online brand, and work with you to create a look that is uniquely you. After all, when potential clients land on your website while researching companies to do business with, they shouldn't think they're back on the same exact site they were on five minutes prior. In order to compete, you need to set yourself a part. Professional web design is the tool to achieve that.

Cynthia Knuttila

Cynthia Knuttila

is Division [1]'s office assistant. A recent transplant from Northern BC, and with a background in Applied Business Technology, Cynthia keeps Division [1]'s day-to-day administrative activities organized and on track. Outside of the office, you can find her scouring Pinterest for the perfect Thai chicken recipe and working on increasing her ever-growing cardigan collection.

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