Web Site Design Is Easier Than You'd Think

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on March 23, 2010

Businesses have about 90 seconds to make an impression online. With so much riding on brief encounters, many organizations incorrectly assume Web design will be a complicated and drawn-out process that requires a lot of time and money.

Drop the idea that designing a Web site is all about being technically savvy and think instead about how you want it to represent your business, brand, and your product or service. Focus on user experience, appearance of the site, and ease of navigation. Some tips include:

1. Don’t start with a blank page. Many off-the-shelf Web design software programs come with an array of templates you can customize, suitable for every type of business.

2. Be dynamic. A Web site is never done. It is your responsibility to regularly update the site, as fresh content will keep visitors coming back for more. Add dynamic content such as video, as well as links to such social media tools as Facebook and Flickr. Try interactive features such as taking bookings or reservations online—perfect for B&Bs, therapists, hairdressers, and others—which can help translate your Web communications into sales.

3. Search engine optimization. Think about the words that describe your business and then pepper your site with those words—as meta tag keywords, descriptions, heading and image tags—so search engines such as Google can more easily find you. Consider free tools such as Google Analytics, which can provide useful information about visitors, where they are, and how they browse your Web site.

Colin Hussey
Small Business Manager
Serif
Nottingham, U.K.

Reader Comments

dewita

March 23, 2010 12:46 PM

Using blogging software is probably a better choice for some.. a website alone isn't enough. If you have the time & willingness to write or produce great digital content, blogging should be the way to go..

Didymus

March 23, 2010 7:25 PM

My, how simplistic. Might want to give Brand a bit of consideration.

Matt

March 24, 2010 11:28 AM

This is ridiculous. The article begins by stating that web design is easy, then two of the three "tips" it gives, while good advice, can be incredibly complex and time consuming to implement properly, in a way that is beneficial to your bottom line. Even adapting a template to suit your needs can be difficult.

I've tried to make web development a simple process; the client will usually complicate it and extend the project, because they want their site to be better than the millions of template sites that do nothing.

And actually, a business has much less than 90 seconds. A sub-par website will turn a user away very quickly. That's why you need to hire a designer who knows what they're doing.

John

March 24, 2010 1:40 PM

In my experience you've got a lot less than 90 seconds.

I don't find this article helpful for several reasons:

1. Search Engine Optimization is no longer about "peppering" your pages with keywords. These days that's called keyword spam.

Thanks to Google's real time and personalized search updates, "rankings" are starting to fade in importance, so "peppering" won't do much good.

2. Fresh content is fine, but there are plenty of sites with fresh content, less traffic, and zero cash.

Figuring out the type of content people "want" and the content that "generates" business isn't as simple as writing whatever you want. It's going to take upfront research (which a lot of people don't do for a variety of reasons).

3. Implying that people simply sign up and start sharing on social networks isn't helpful advice. Millions of small businesses have facebook pages and twitter accounts; they also have absolutely no idea what they're doing there or how social media will make them any money.

4. The user experience, site appearance, ease of navigation, and usability need more than opinions. Lots of people think they're qualified because they've designed something in the past. The problem is quantifying whether their *expertise* *actually* turns into money.

John

March 24, 2010 1:46 PM

In my experience you've got a lot less than 90 seconds.

I don't find this article helpful for several reasons:

1. Search Engine Optimization is no longer about "peppering" your pages with keywords. These days that's called keyword spam.

Thanks to Google's real time and personalized search updates, "rankings" are starting to fade in importance, so "peppering" won't do much good.

2. Fresh content is fine, but there are plenty of sites with fresh content, less traffic, and zero cash.

Figuring out the type of content people "want" and the content that "generates" business isn't as simple as writing whatever you want. It's going to take upfront research (which a lot of people don't do for a variety of reasons).

3. Implying that people simply sign up and start sharing on social networks isn't helpful advice. Millions of small businesses have facebook pages and twitter accounts; they also have absolutely no idea what they're doing there or how social media will make them any money.

4. The user experience, site appearance, ease of navigation, and usability need more than opinions. Lots of people think they're qualified because they've designed something in the past. The problem is quantifying whether their *expertise* *actually* turns into money.

Janice Schwarz

March 30, 2010 10:05 AM

If web design were that easy, there would be a lot more people making their own professional sites from scratch. Templates make your site look just like everyone else's. Further, they are limited in what you can do with them. Lastly, they tend to not be search engine friendly, viewable on all browsers, or accessible to visitors with disabilities. Web design exists as a career field for a reason; you don't become a professional quality designer overnight or in 3 easy sessions.

Nick Gazard

April 5, 2010 1:56 PM

I clicked on this out of interest as I run a web design company and spend most of our time trying to simplify and explain the process because there are so many components involved. It is an emminently understandable process but it takes time and expertise to conduct effectively.

To use an analogy: sewing a stitch in cloth isn't that complex on its own, but to create a garment of beauty requires a lot more than just cloth and stitches.

I agree with the other commenters, particularly that social media can be a waste of time unless you know how to use it effectively. Likewise Search Engine Optimisation is a constantly updating field which is too much for a small business to keep on top of.

Finally, starting with a design and then shoe-horning content into it (i.e. the template route) tends to result in a disaster. I doubt Businessweek.com was made this way, rather looking at content and creating a complimentary design.

Web Designing

April 13, 2010 8:26 AM

The Web is no different.Web Designing for a Web-based environment enacts a set of unique issues that need to be considered before implementation can be successful

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