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Most businesses operate a website of some kind and, in many of these cases, its objective is to generate further business, whether this be in the form of a hot lead or an online sale. Because of this, a business’ website becomes a key component of their promotional efforts.

Why Good Web Design Matters4

When setting up a website, budgets for both the design and the development can range from a few hundred to many thousands of pounds. There are many low cost – and even free – solutions out there and, as a web design agency, we have no problem with these. Some business may be starting out. Others may simply have a very low budget. In which case, these lower cost solutions are perfectly acceptable.

We completely understand that and, at the end of the day, it’s much better to have some sort of online presence, rather than nothing at all.

However, there are a large number of websites out there that aren’t very well designed and don't have optimised content (both for search engines and for users - although we’ll come back to that later).

You'll find thousands of articles around the web suggesting that only content is king, that design is not as important in the current age of Google, and that well optimised content is all you need to succeed. Well optimised content can help to get you so far, but the real success of a website…?

…It’s actually great content nestled within brilliant design.

After all, optimised content is only half the job. Once you've got someone’s eyes on your page, what happens - or doesn't happen - afterwards?

The web is a visual experience and a poorly designed website is not going to stand out on the crowded online stage, nor push your business ahead of the competition. Within a matter of seconds, the look of a website will influence a user’s decision as to whether they want to do business with you - resulting in contact or a sale - or click away to another website. This is why design matters, regardless of how great your content is.

So, let’s look at this in more detail...

First impressions matter

Design and placement of different content elements can take hours, weeks or even months. But whether it works or not will be decided in an instant. First impressions will determine how a user will want to interact with your business. If you visit a website that looks out of date, poorly maintained and confusing, are you in a good place? Are you feeling confident that this is the website you are looking for? Chances are that you will have subconscious answers to these questions before you even read anything on the page.

With first impressions formed on the overall look and feel, the design needs to support the content and goals of the website. As an important marketing and communications tool, your website should visually convey the feelings you want visitors to have about your company.


Your website is your branding portal to the public. With a simple online search, anyone in the world can learn about your company, about you and your team, your services, and maybe even about a project or study. Your website creates an image about you and what you want everyone to know about your products or services.

You can't control all the information that’s out there, but when a user searches for your brand and finds your website, this is your chance; time to get your message across, in your own words whilst controlling the user experience simultaneously. On your website you control the message, how it looks and, therefore, what experience a visitor will receive from engaging with your brand. You control the layout and the design to lead the visitor through your website, subtly suggesting the next page or section. All of these elements work together with your content, resulting in a well-controlled experience tailored to your target audience.

Usability and user experience

Used to describe how straightforward it is for a person to navigate and use your website, usability and user experience are key for a person to determine how well they can interact with your brand.

When people first land on your website, you want them to perform some kind of action. Layout and navigation can play a huge role determining which action they take. Normally, they will look for one of the following:

  • a main image or graphic
  • a brand name or logo
  • a main navigation (which helps to provide an idea of what information the website contains)
  • key text, or a message
  • a footer navigation
  • contact information

If a website’s design is cluttered, has poorly placed or confusing navigation, or the colour contrasts are distracting, this may deter people, and they could navigate elsewhere.

If, on the other hand, your website consists of high quality imagery or illustrations, sharp contrasts in your design, or even something quirky and unusual, you’re more likely to grab a person’s attention. Together with a simple phrase or strap line, these elements, along with a consistent layout and style, will make it easier for a user to find their way around a website. Anything that minimises confusion or doubt is much more likely to deliver a better user experience.

The right colour

You may not realise it, but psychology plays a huge part when we look at certain colours. Say for instance you’re looking at a page containing mostly oranges, greens and browns; subconsciously, you’re more likely to associate these with food, making this colour scheme a perfect choice for a catering website. Softer or brighter colours could indicate a more playful business, such as an online toy shop, for example.

Choosing a colour scheme for your business, therefore, is a decision that must be made carefully. It requires a defined colour pallet and it’s important that the finished product matches your brand. We highly recommend using a scheme that matches, or complements, the colours used to make up your business logo.


As we’ve already mentioned, each website portrays a certain image. Strong visuals, clean lines and organised design all provide legitimacy to a website, helping to establish trust which is extremely important when it comes to converting a sale.

People will automatically make a lot of assumptions based on the design of your website. These can be anything from how much they trust your brand, to their expectations of the quality or price of the product or service you have to offer.

If you want people to get a certain feel for your business, it’s vital that your website sends out the right message. The experience a person has on your website is likely to reflect the experience they will come to expect from your brand when they deal with you in person. For instance, if you are a catering company with poor quality images of food on your website, the likelihood is any website visitors will expect the real thing to be of poor quality too.

A confusing website filled with jargon is likely to deter users, causing them to feel unsure as to what experience they will receive from your product or service.

Tell your audience what is important

What’s important to you? What are your website goals? When a person visits your website, what is the ideal path you want them to take? You might know what outcome you want from their visit, but they don’t. So tell them.

It all starts with an information hierarchy. This is important from a business perspective because it helps to prioritise information for the busy user. As users, we often have limited time to interact and subconsciously, we make decisions in split seconds. So as the business owner, it’s important that you convey key messages in a simple glance.

This is where your website’s structure and page organisation come into play. What’s the most important thing you have to showcase? This can be highlighted with a strong or unusual visual, or with a simple block of text. Scale, position, contrast and colour can all help to make this stand out as well.

What supporting information do you have? What else does the user need to know about your most important details? A ‘More information’ section can be used in this instance so, even though it is important and related to the key call-to-action, it’s still secondary in the hierarchy, therefore meaning it should be more subtle than the main element.

In order to achieve this more subtle tone, you could include your additional information in the form of a secondary line or text, a ‘Click to scroll’ or ‘Read more’ feature, or you could just link to a new section. Remember to keep it simple so as to ensure it doesn’t compete with the main goal.

Finally, make sure you include a call-to-action; something that literally tells a person what you want them to do next. Every website has an objective and some sort of user goal in mind. Tell them to ‘Contact us’, ‘Request more information’, ‘Read more’ or ‘Buy it now’; but make sure your call-to-action is obvious and use a simple design to make it clear.

The importance of mobile

The growth of mobile internet access has changed the world we live in. As smartphones and tablets become mainstream, they now drive an increasing amount of traffic to a website. As well as a significant number of online sales, people also use mobile devices to carry out a large amount of online research prior to making any purchases. So ensuring your website is readable and accessible on mobile devices is crucial.

This brings us nicely to design for multiple devices; the solution being responsive web design, which is a subject in itself, but is important to mention here.

There are rules and ratios that must be considered when designing a responsive website. Regardless of whether it’s accessed on a desktop computer, a tablet or a smartphone, the website must adjust itself gracefully for an optimum user experience subsequently providing a positive experience on any device.

Every website should be responsive, or at least provide a mobile optimised version for people accessing it on a different device. Responsive websites are now mainstream and supported by the latest web browsers. They are, by far, the most cost effective solution in comparison to having a separate mobile app.

In short, a responsive website really is a must.

Wording and typography

Fonts that are easy to read, complement the design and reflect the image you wish to communicate are vital for a great user experience. Modern websites tend to go for cleaner fonts, such as Sans-Serif, whereas traditional products and services, or those communicating a heritage, may go for a more classic font, such as Serif.

Your content must flow easily, so it’s vital that the wording itself is carefully thought out. Begin by writing your content in a computer programme, such as Microsoft Word which will help to highlight any typing or grammatical errors you may have made. Convey your message in a short, simple format, ensuring you add organisation throughout. Include natural breaks, paragraphs and headings to help users digest your information quickly. Make sure the content flows, is concise and conveys your desired action or target. Once you’ve finished writing it, the next crucial step is to read it back to yourself – always double check your own work and, if you can, get a second pair of eyes to take a look at it too.

Whilst it is good practice to ensure your content is readable, it can also help to improve your performance in the search engines (SEO). A positive user engagement on a website can act as a signal to search engines, indicating that the website should appear higher in the results pages. Other vital elements that must be considered when looking to improve SEO are a page’s meta tags and headings. Do these contain your target key terms? Are they the correct length for optimal performance? And do they effectively describe what your business is about?


Every user has a different idea of what makes a 'Good' website design, as it is partially in the eye of the beholder. Everybody has different tastes when it comes to a visual look and feel. It's important that the full impact of web design is understood before it’s really discovered. Design has an impact on SEO, branding and conversion rates, all of which are influenced by what we've discussed here, meaning it isn't as simple as going along with a personal preference or a minor choice.

If you are unsure of where to start, just stick to the basics. Hire a professional that has a good understanding of you and your business, and will work together with you to achieve your business’ ultimate goals.


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