The Importance of Professional Web Design During COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has had an enormous impact on the way we do business in 2020.
With the proliferation of social distancing practices and global lockdowns put in place, companies all over the world have been forced to shift the vast majority of their business operations online.
The pandemic has also prompted Internet users to increase their online activity drastically.
Akamai, the content delivery, cloud, and cybersecurity company that comprises a large part of the Internet, has reported seeing a more than 50% increase in traffic than the average day pre-COVID.
As a result, having a professional web design that effectively conveys your brand identity, communicates your service/product offering, and fosters connection with your consumers has never been as crucial as it is today.
Maybe COVID-19 has prompted you to create a website for your business for the first time, or perhaps it's forced you to re-evaluate the efficacy of your existing website and revamp certain things.
Either way, this pandemic is not only necessitating a strong focus on web design and digital marketing, but it's presenting an opportunity for you to grow and leverage your company's online presence in a way that will enable its survival in these unprecedented times.
So, what are some of the core reasons professional web design is such a high priority for businesses navigating the marketplace under the umbrella of COVID-19?
What are some of the critical criteria of professional web design? Let's take a look.
Your Sole Source of Brand Representation
In the pre-COVID era, websites often acted as a complement to other forms of brand representation, such as a storefront or a corporate event.
Today it is the primary tool you have at your disposal — with lockdowns still in place in many regions globally.
Customers don't have the luxury of visiting your store in person.
With the implementation of social distancing practices, significant branded events aren't possible, and likely won't be for the foreseeable future.
However, despite these restrictions, the functionality and accessibility of the Internet have mainly remained unimpacted, which is why customers are shifting their consumption behaviours to the online sphere.
In other words, customers aren't necessarily going to stop buying from you – they're merely going to find a new way to do it.
This is why it's essential you give them an alternative online method to do precisely that in the form of a robust and easy-to-navigate professional web design that accurately represents your brand.
Consumer Expectations Will Shift
Following COVID-19, we've seen an increase of digitalisation and continuous growth in e-commerce spending, which is making customers increasingly accustomed to what is known as the “frictionless economy.”
This economy is characterised by a sense of seamlessness within transactions.
Previously, when making a purchase, customers have been required to count out cash, hand it to a cashier, and wait for change and a receipt.
Now, customers can easily take out a card or even a smart device and tap it, making for a quick, contactless, and frictionless payment.
This sort of transaction is rife on the Internet since consumers can complete their transactions independently within a few clicks.
The more frequently customers experience this level of seamlessness in their day-to-day lives, the more they'll grow to expect it from companies.
As a result, businesses must bear this in mind when designing and developing their websites.
They need to clearly outline the product/service offering while featuring intuitive navigation tools and easy-to-complete order forms to make the consumer's experience on the website as seamless as possible.
Customer Habits Have Changed
Much like consumer expectations have shifted in light of the virus, many of your customers' habits have likely also changed.
An ongoing study has found that 76% of respondents have picked up new habits, behaviours, and routines in the wake of the pandemic.
Of those, 89% said they plan to keep some of these habits even after the pandemic is over.
The study also found that these shifts in behavioural habits extended to consumption patterns: many of the respondents shared that they have been trying new products, with 36% saying they plan to continue using some of these new brands after COVID-19.
The swiftness of changing consumer habits requires an equally agile response from companies who wish to serve these consumers continually.
As customers shift their habits, companies must shift their marketing strategies.
One of the most far-reaching, adaptable, and accessible tools for doing exactly that is a well-designed website.
Keeping Up with the Competition
Even before the pandemic, maintaining a competitive edge was essential for every business.
Now it's even more important, mostly because companies in nearly every sector have experienced economic repercussions due to the pandemic and are working even harder to adapt.
If you don't have a website or if your web design is weak, you're providing your competitors with the upper hand; in boasting a strong web presence, your competitors are likely to gain customers you're missing out on.
Similarly, they're more likely to remain at the forefront of consumers' minds and are therefore more likely to grow brand loyalty.
Critical Elements of Professional Web Design
There are several aspects of the current marketplace that highlight the importance of professional web design.
Despite having this context, you may still be wondering what the characteristics of a strong website are.
Here are some of the main criteria every website should have, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1 – Simplicity
Believe it or not, you can achieve more with less.
The power of minimalism and simplicity in your web design is not to be underestimated.
When a potential customer visits your site, they can be easily overwhelmed and deterred by clutter.
Whether it includes too many competing colours or fonts, if your web page is overly busy, the customer is more likely to dislike the aesthetic and abandon the page.
With that in mind, opt to keep it simple.
Strategically select your colours and fonts based on the feeling you wish to evoke within the consumer; as a rule of thumb, try to stick to a maximum of three for each.
2 – Mobile accessibility
With the rapid development of smartphone technology, it's no wonder we are always on our phones.
In fact, in 2018, 52.2% of all web traffic was generated through mobile phones, an uptick from 50.3% in 2017.
What's even more critical for businesses to know is the prominence of mobile online shopping.
Roughly 80% of American adults are now online shoppers, with nearly half of them sharing that they've purchased with their mobile phone.
With that in mind, your website must be mobile-friendly.
3 – Honesty and compassion
We are all living through this pandemic, so don't be afraid to acknowledge that and offer customers empathy on your website.
The collective trauma caused by COVID-19 means that the value of compassion in these unprecedented times should not be discounted.
Address the effect that the pandemic has had on your customers and on your business, outline expected changes in product or service offerings, and reassure your customers that you stand in solidarity with them.
You should also provide outlets for any COVID-related customer concerns and inquiries.
4 – Modernity
Technology is rapidly developing, and your company's web design must keep up with the times.
In developing a modern website, you'll communicate to your customers that your company prioritises innovation and will continually adapt to marketplace shifts in an attempt to always serve them better.
To ensure a modern web design, familiarise yourself with some of the key web design trends to watch for in 2020 and 2021, from speculative design to machine learning in the browser.
One of the best ways to guarantee your website is it's most chic and practical is to consult a professional web design agency.
These companies, such as Excite Media, for instance, work collaboratively with you to bring your online vision to life.
Their expertise in web design and development speaks for itself, with a proven track record of converting visits into sales.
They also prioritise digital marketing principles in their web design practices, including pay-per-click optimisation and search engine optimisation (SEO).
SEO is especially important to implement effectively during the pandemic because it offers long-term gains, stability, and security in a marketplace currently plagued by instability and uncertainty.
Additionally, SEO offers scalability and low-cost leads, while boasting a sense of low maintenance in that it does not require strategic timing.
For better or worse, COVID-19 has forced businesses worldwide to reassess and shift the way they connect with and serve their customers in 2020.
Due to the social distancing and lockdown restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus, companies have been forced to reach consumers through the online sphere, making the need for professional web design all the more prominent.
While many businesses may have initially perceived this forced shift as an imposition, it is an exceptional opportunity to build their company's online presence while boosting their overall resilience.
Ultimately, an increased sense of resilience will ensure that your business is equipped to prosper in the face of any unexpected event that may arise in the future.
7 Professional Web Design Tips For Beginners
Online marketing was all the rage in the year 2019, followed up by the year 2020; the demand for website designers has increased considerably.
One, and probably the only reason, for this sudden surge in demand are due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Due to this pandemic, many businesses had to shut down and take their businesses online due to the social distancing protocols.
It is more of a survival strategy for businesses to go online rather than a luxury.
This created a high demand for web designers, which is why a lot of young professionals then took on web design courses to learn this particular skill set.
However, just like any other skill, it is the only practice that makes you perfect.
A beginner still shows a bit of immaturity in their work, which is why in this article we list down the seven professional web design tips for these beginners who just jumped on the bandwagon of the digital world.
Professional Web Design for Beginners
Web designing is an art. Art is a skill that everyone cannot quickly achieve.
However, today we have a lot of DIY website building services, which has technically made this skill easily accessible by pretty much anyone.
Software now offer services of website building like Wix, Shopify, and Squarespace etc.
This is why even amateurs can use these tools and come up with a professional web design for a company.
This software result is so professional that it is hard to tell that an amateur made the site.
This is the case with a lot of artistic fields, for example, amateurs today now also use digital sounds to make them sound perfect, the same goes in the area of art.
This software has made it easy for nonskilled people to try art as well.
The 7 Professional Web Design Tips for beginners
The following guidelines and tips will help web designers who are just beginners to attain some professional results with their websites.
1 – Map Out the Structure for Your website
Just like any art, web design also falls in the category of digital art. And like all artistic drafts require a sketch on a paper with pencil, we recommend you do the same when designing a website.
Yes, you might have a clear concept of what your website may look like in your mind, and you think you are ready to jump on to the computer to design it, but please do not do this.
Take it slow, especially if you’re a beginner.
Take out a pencil and paper and draft out the layout of your website. This can look like a couple of boxes and doodle design, but this is how the professionals start it.
This practice will save you from the trial and error issues later on when you are designing your website on a digital platform.
It will also help you with any additional ideas or problems you did not anticipate in your imaginary design.
Just like any other artwork, the first step is always the rough draft.
Later, this rough draft becomes your reference guide when you are designing your website.
2 – Form and Follow a Hierarchy
It is crucial when laying down a structure for your web design to follow a particular hierarchy.
Given that this generation surfing online today doesn’t spend much time reading all the information, it is vital for a web designer to layout all the information first easily visible to the web viewer.
Generation Z and millennials are mostly interested in visual photo content and probably read it for 5 to 10 seconds and then scroll on.
So it is crucial that you lay down the essential features on one page where the surfer can view it all at once.
The following are a few tips for you to follow to get a clear hierarchy on your website.
The initial screen that displays the content is called ‘the fold’, and the rest of the information has to be scrolled to be seen, which is considered secondary.
All the information that is important to be seen comes above the fold.
Use an image above the fold. A lot of professional web designers use a ‘Hero’ image above the fold.
This is the area that serves as a space to showcase the banner of the company, and all the premium content to follow is displayed here as well.
The website display technically changes depending on the device the surfer is viewing it on.
Therefore we recommend you to focus on the above the fold design and content which is the prime visual of your website.
3 – Colour Scheme
The first impression is the last; this goes without saying.
The same goes for website designing as well.
Colours play a crucial role in laying down the first impression of your website. Colour scheming your website depends on various factors for your brand, it should be by your brand logo, your social media kit designs, etc.
Colours play an essential role in influencing the behaviour of your buyer subconsciously.
Every colour plays a bit on the buyer’s emotions and thereby influence their buying behaviours.
The following are a few tips for you to follow:
- Avoid saturated colours for your website. For example, Red can be too tacky and hurt the surfer’s eye or make them cringe.
- It’s best to choose light colours, as it shows space, clarity, and precision.
- If you have a clear brand strategy for your company’s logo, it’s best to play with the same colours in your web design as well.
- Also, consider the industry of your company, for example, a toy company that has a black website is not the best choice. However, it is a well-suited colour scheming for probably an insurance company.
- A blue tone is something that incorporates professionalism and awareness in the web surfers’ minds.
- The colour of the website should be such that the text should stand out from the background. Otherwise, the message wouldn’t be too transparent, and people would close your website in a second.
4 – Picture Framing and Layout
Using pictures on your website, show your web design on the artistic side.
However, the key is to use it in alignment with the Web design layout, colour scheme, etc.
Here are a few tips for beginners on how to use picture framing in their web design layout:
- Use the picture as content that serves a purpose to your brand image or products
- Do not just use photographs independently for the sake that they look nice.
- You can use photos as an infographic on your site.
- Help the users understand your brand’s concept or product information through the images and colour scheme.
- The picture you are using should blend in with the scheming of your website design.
- Understand different file types and compression techniques before uploading the photo on your site.
- Average file size that you upload should be about 100kb.
- A few picture formats that you should include for your website are JPEG, PNG, and SVG.
5 – Mobile-Friendly Layout
Today people are surfing the internet through their mobile phones more than they are from laptops or computers.
This is why the web design should be mobile-friendly, in a layout mainly that displays well on mobile phone screens.
This is why designers, when laying out the structure of a web design plan, should consider the mobile layout at the start as well.
This means you should keep your design simple and make sure that the system is functional and viewable on small mobile screens as well.
Since the mobile screen is not as big as compared to the laptop and desktop screens, it is beneficial for you to remove distracting elements and only keep relevant mobile-friendly content.
If you google titan 440i parts, you will see mobile-friendly images and content on it from their websites, or if you google ‘Maybelline lash extension’ you will get precise information on it quickly displayed on your mobile screen.
A mobile generally displays a vertical design layout, compared to the landscape view of desktop and laptops.
A vertical layout of mobile phones inspires scrolling; however, the people surfing on a mobile phone have less attention span and probably view the content for a maximum of 30 seconds.
Many website building software offers mobile-friendly layouts, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to figure it out.
However, this is a fundamental professional level always to keep your design mobile-friendly.
6 – Fonts for your website
Text is an equally important element for your website.
Your web design should have a clear hierarchy of headings, subheadings, and subject text.
Following are a few tips for beginners to keep in mind:
- The text should be clear. Font size should be large around 16 px for the subject body text.
- Do not use more than two font types for your website.
- Have small paragraphs for your blogs with clear headings.
- Keep your text statements small.
Other Professional Web design tips
The following are a few more tips for a professional web design:
- Make sure the alignment of your text and pictures are accurate when viewed on a desktop screen or a mobile phone screen.
- Keep your web designs simple. If many things are going on in terms of pictures, texts, videos, advertisement, your website in itself will look like nothing more than a distraction.
- Having a white space on your website gives the content on your website space to breathe and is somewhat appealing to the eyes of a website surfer.
Web design sounds like an easy thing today given software is doing most of the work.
None the less, many elements need to be considered when designing a website.
As a beginner, you need to be vigilant about the necessary details we have mentioned above.
The thing about being a web designer is that your work represents your style and shows how professional you are.
Many web designers take on a few cheap projects to create their portfolios.
The key is that the more impressive your web design is, the more clientele you will be able to get.
Many companies write guides and tips for web design. If you are a beginner, it is your best bet to follow these blogs and follow their guideline.
Quite a few websites like Upwork and Fiverr also offer courses for web designing, which has varying levels.
It is not a bad idea as a beginner for you to take a few courses and polish your skills.
Experience is what makes a person grow.
The same goes for a web designer, the more they practice, the more skilled they will get.
While you can read up many blogs and see various tutorials, but in the end, it’s the work that will make you skilled.
The fields we mentioned above like typography, font, content, colour composition, layouts, mobile visuals, etc. are all pretty extensive when applied in your web design.
Only professionals would be able to get how crucial every element is to make a professional web design.
Last but not least, a client’s guideline on theirs wants for the website is also a key to incorporate in the web design.
This is why web designers charge a lot; there is a lot of effort and work that goes into it.
Good luck to all you beginners and we hope our tips help you impress a few clients!
Contributor: Nisar is a digital marketing expert from Media Hicon for many years.