Web design is part-marketing and part-art. However, often times, it is seen as a purely aesthetic endeavor. This means that some brands will suffer if they do not invest in proper design. The true role of a web designer is to align the user experience with the goals of the business. When these two goals are misaligned, one of two problems emerges: the website is beautiful, but it does not convert, or the website is ruthlessly streamlined for quick conversions, but it does not convert optimally because it misses out on segments of the market which value UX. There several guidelines for striking this balance:
Effective communication between the marketing department and the web design company
In order to avoid the pitfall of a beautiful, but ultimately useless website, the marketing department must coordinate with the design agency. This is especially important for B2B companies, which have more complex products and customer journeys. The digital marketing department can relay important information regarding the sales process, customer profiles, and stakeholder expectations, which will allow the designer to properly structure the information on the website according to effective marketing strategies.
Have clear goals
Each website should have a clearly defined purpose. Starting a website just to keep up with the competition is usually a waste of time and resources. Instead, you want to base your decision to build a company website on an understanding of the challenges, needs and aspirations of your business. For example, a website can serve as a conversion tool, where customers flock to find out information about your services, products, prices, and experience. On the other hand, some companies may choose to build a lead-generating website that acts as an information portal which captures customers before they even know they’re looking for a specific product. Each one of these goals has different design requirements.
Create a map of the customer journey
With a clear goal in mind, it’s time to reverse engineer the process which gets the customer to our desired end point. This is where the customer journey comes in. How will a customer reach your site? Will it be through a Google search, or a targeted email campaign? What will hook him once he arrives, and what will guide him further towards conversion? These questions have to be asked for several customer personas, and all of them will factor into the end design of the website. They can also lead to improved branding, by revealing what type of company resonates best with your client base.
Once the end goal and customer journey are set, it’s time to simplify. The design team will help you clear unnecessary hurdles on the path to conversion. The key to a good user experience and a high conversion rate is reducing the number of decisions that have to be made for a purchase. For example, if you’ve determined that a customer will require a white paper at step 4 of his journey, you want to make sure that the page presenting the white paper has no other calls to action, or extraneous content. Focused messaging and targeting are the keys to success.