How many times have you looked up a big company’s website only to be disappointed by the poor design (No images? Homepage is cluttered and confusing, can’t find what I want) or service offering (Can’t update my details? No shipping details?) and thought, “I can’t believe this huge organisation can’t get it together to do something as simple as a website”.

Websites aren’t really all that simple, but expectations about what you should see and do online are growing more and more ingrained. Recently, a Google report showed 88% of users that had a bad experience on a site on their mobile phone would not return, either on a desktop or a mobile. Consider how quickly and recently mobile sites have become ubiquitous and that should give you an indication on how quickly the general populace develops a sense of normalcy and entitlement around these online services.

You may have heard the research that users stay on a page for about 8 seconds before making a decision about whether to stay or go. 8 seconds in which to communicate your key messages, in a way that doesn’t annoy or confuse, or otherwise negatively affect the user. This is where design is so important. At a glance, a great design will:

  • Confirm the branding of the company, professionally and in an aesthetically pleasing manner
  • Clearly communicate the content that brought the user there in the first place
  • Create a feeling associated with the goals of the company brand. E.g. professional, cutting edge, warm, homely
  • Lay out the important information in a logical and accessible manner, following established rules, or innovating new ones

Can this be done in 8 seconds? Absolutely.

Having a beautiful looking site is about professionalism. It’s about presenting your business in the best possible light. Just like coming to a job interview in a good dress or suit, it’s expected. In the online space, no one can see your shopfront or office. So you need to communicate everything you would in that environment, within 960 x 800 px (or thereabouts).

Investing in a great design reflects your values as a company, and recognizes the importance of the online space as a key branding and communication tool.