We started out as a web design firm in 1999 in Provo, Utah. Since then we have designed or redesigned hundreds of websites for clients ranging from startups to billion-dollar enterprises. Disclaimer: We did not work on this website.
A Few Seconds
That’s the maximum amount of time your company has to make a good impression on a first-time visitor to your website before they hit the back button and look at your competitor. What goes into making a great impression? The #1 factor, simply put, is great design.
Although it’s well over a decade old, the most comprehensive and scientifically rigorous study ever performed on website credibility, based on “three years of research that included over 4,500 people,” was the Stanford Web Credibility Project, led by researcher BJ Fogg.
I would like to think that when people go on the Web they’re very tough integrators of information, they compare sources, they think really hard, but the truth of the matter–and I didn’t want to find this in the research but it’s very clear–is that people do judge a Web site by how it looks. That’s the first test of the Web site. And if it doesn’t look credible or it doesn’t look like what they expect it to be, they go elsewhere. It doesn’t get a second test. And it’s not so different from other things in life. It’s the way we judge automobiles and politicians.
Do you think anything has changed in the past 10+ years? If anything, websites are generally better designed today than they were 10 years ago, meaning it’s even more difficult to stand out against the competition. Add to this that we’re busier than ever, there are more websites than ever, and we have higher expectations about website design including performance across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices, and you can see why it’s no longer enough to have a website design that’s good enough, it must be a great design.
Great Strategy + Great UX + Great Design + Great Content = Great Web Design
You can get good design by purchasing a template, or by going with the most affordable web design firm you can find. The problem is so can everyone else. You don’t get great design from a template, because great design must be a customized to fit the specifics of the situation. And great designers don’t work for firms that are satisfied with churning out design that is merely “good enough.” But the biggest problem is that it’s not even enough to simply throw a great designer at a project. You’ll still end up with good, not great, design. Great design starts with great strategy, includes great user experience design (UX), then great design, and is wrapped up with amazing content in terms of words and photography.
The right strategy comes from asking the right questions. What is the purpose of this website? Who is the target audience? How do those people behave online? What do we want those people to do on this website? What are competitors doing? What can we do better? These and other questions give us the right plan and allow us to move on to the next steps with more than a stab in the dark.
For a lot of people going through user experience design feels like paying a lot of money for someone to move gray boxes with text in them around a white page, instead of getting on with the design itself. Like any accomplished professional, a great UX designer makes the process look easy. Are there times when you can skip UX? Sure. If you’re ok with a good website rather than a great website. And sometimes good enough is just that. But what if the different between good and great is 5% more profits per year? What if it’s the difference between beating a competitor or not? What if it’s the difference between staying in business or not? Is that enough justification to take an extra few weeks and a few thousand dollars to get UX right?
Finally! You’ve been patient, and all good things come to those who wait. When we have the right strategy and UX in place, design tends to go a lot faster, and hits the mark a lot better. Great design is the right colors, photos, graphics, and fonts. It’s the right width, height, spacing, corners, edges, and angles. It’s the right mood, emotion, look, and feel. Even if you’re not a professional designer, you know great design when you see it. The only reason anyone ends up with a good design when they would like to have a great design, is that the untrained eye only knows greatness when it sees it, but doesn’t necessarily notice its absence.
No matter how good a book cover looks, if what you find inside is garbage, it’s all a waste. Great content comes from a team effort between a client and a writer. The client knows his or her company and industry better than any outside firm can ever hope to. A great writer knows how to dive into the mind of the client and get the right words out. When the right content is placed within a great design, it’s truly a beautiful thing.
But Wait, There’s More
It’s important to understand there is no one person that can create a great website design. It may not take a village, but it certainly takes a team. From account managers to writers, and UX designers to front-end coders, and of course, the designers. There’s a good chance your great new website is going to have the handprints of at least five individuals on it, and that doesn’t include you and your team. It’s not just an investment financially, it’s an investment of time. But it’s one that pays off. We make it easy. Ready to get started?