Beyond Aesthetics: How Web Design Affects Your Business Growth

Blog-How Web Design affects your business growth
Blog-How Web Design affects your business growth

There is no denying that taste and preference are subjective and that everyone has their take on what is aesthetically pleasing and what isn’t.

And though business owners may have the last say when it comes to the design of their site, certain things should be left to professionals – especially when it comes to web design.

Now, why is this, you ask?

First and foremost, web designers are familiar with the best practices associated with website design. And no, these factors are not just based on their preferences, but on proven design elements that improve business growth.

So what are some of these design elements you ask?

Well, here are two of them:

Mobile-friendly design

Since 4.7 million Singaporeans use their phones to access the internet based on 2019 data released by statista.com – with a forecast of it hitting 5 million by 2025.

So if your business website looks like a Picasso painting on mobile, chances are you’re going to lose customers to those streamlined for mobile use.

Great user experience 

  1. The navigation bar contains links to all the essential pages that either explains what your product or service is about or one that answers customer pain points. 
  2. A responsive design that works as eye candy for visitors as well as unconsciously promotes brand image, and 
  3. The typography and content placement needs to be strategic and help point visitors to information or sections that you want them to see.

Contrary to what some of you might believe, we’re not trying to make things complicated when it comes to website design.

You see, long gone are the days when it’s enough just to create a website and tell the world what your business is all about. 

Times have changed, and that includes how consumers perceive what a trustworthy website is.

So if your website looks like it’s stuck in the ’90s with what seems to be like a Geocities style layout, you might want to rethink your website design.

We know, way too much information for you to process – and you’ve not even read past the introduction for this article.

Do you want to learn more, though? If yes, then let’s start with…

The first impression is essential: The relationship between design and consumer trust

The consumer base has evolved. We’re not just talking about the millennial crowd, but also the assimilation of the boomer generation into the mindset of Gen X, Y, and Z.

When business websites first came out; most had a massive wall of text that explained everything about the company’s product or service.

Microsoft’s website in 1997

And though this may still be the case for some business websites today, one thing is sure – you’ll only find those types of content within pages, but not on a site main landing page, right?

Now, why is that you ask?

It’s because we at xSquare believe that imagery is now at the forefront of marketing. And that a well-designed website needs to have a fine balance between eye-catching imagery and powerful CTA text to improve conversion rates. 

A conversion is an action you’d like the reader to do after landing on your page. Example buys a product on the page, signs up for your newsletter, or clicks on a link that redirects to your inquiry form.

Case in point,a Stanford Web Credibility Project research paper stated that:

“46% of respondents reported that they assessed website credibility based on the overall design of the site, including elements like typography, layout, and colour schemes.”

With that said, it is clear as day that web design is no longer limited to just website layouts, but now plays an active role in increasing conversion rates.

Think of it as you would a first date. You dress to impress, and you try to steer the conversation into something that your date can relate to. If you play your cards right, then you earn your date’s trust, and maybe bag a second date. 

Does that make sense to you?

How can you know if your business website doesn’t appeal to customers?

There are a lot of factors at play here, but if one of the talking points below hits close to home, then maybe you need to tweak a few things.

No web traffic

This could stem from two things. First, maybe you don’t have an active (or effective) SEO campaign. And secondly, your social media campaign (given that you have one) is not resonating with or reaching, your target audience.

If you are interested in how to create and launch an effective SEO and social media campaign, we will be coming out with in-depth articles about it in the future. 

Low to non-existent inquiries

These inquiries should either come from the contact information of your website, or through your social media channels.

The lack of inquiries could possibly mean that your content is not convincing enough to make site visitors inquire about your product or services.

Effective sales content should not engage its readers, it also serves as a guide that provides suggestions, or guide readers on what to do next. 

Wrong inquiries

Now if the inquiries you get sound a bit off, or may not be completely in-line with the product or services you offer, then your call to action lines, then there is definitely something wrong with your content.

Remember that the content you have on your site, be it images or text, are visual cues that explain and represent what you are offering.

Specific questions about what actually it is you do, or what your product does means that your content is confusing for your target audience.

When it comes to creating content for products or services, talking points need to be detailed and easy to understand.

Save the flowery words for blog posts. For your main pitch, it needs to convey what your business is all about immediately.

No or low conversion rates

When it comes to conversion, price plays a huge role – so let’s take that out of the equation for now.

From our experience, low conversion rates stem from:

Lack of CTA lines – which means that visitors do not feel the urgency to take action to either inquire about or purchase your product or service packages.

Bad content – which could either mean that it’s not just engaging or convincing enough. 

Little to no feedback from visitors

In the age of social media, the interaction between businesses and their target audiences has become the norm.

Those who understand the persona of their audience are more likely to increase their sales, as well as brand recall and authority – even beyond their intended audience.

What brand recall you ask? It’s about how familiar your target audience is about your company. This is why multinational companies pay millions to create product ads or create PR campaigns.

The more familiar your target audience is about your brand (be it product or service), the easier it is for you to create content and advertising materials that appeal to them. Paid ads,if done correctly will cost less and highly boost sales.

Now if there is little to no engagement between your business and your target audience, then maybe you’re not sending the right message to them – and need to rethink your overall content strategy as well as come up with more relatable and responsive design elements for future content.

What are the elements of a good business website design?

To go straight to point, good web design needs to have:

  • Clean but eye-catching colour scheme
  • Plenty of negative space (preferably white)
  • Interactive images
  • Powerful (but subtle) call to action lines
  • Quality and relevant videos 
  • Sleek backend coding
  • User-friendly interface
  • Search engine optimized (SEO)
  • Loads quickly

As you can see, six out of the nine elements relate to visuals. 

And though we’re basing this on our own experience as seasoned business website developers – you only need to take a look at the layout of multinational companies to see that visuals are at the forefront of their web design. 

Apple Singapore website (2020)

And it totally makes sense if you want our opinion.

Why go with a clean minimalist design, with tons of empty white spaces? Because said negative spaces draw the eye towards promotional images, text, and videos – as there is no other distraction for them to focus on.

As seen in the example above, your eyes are immediately drawn to the product.

The main point here is to make your site layout “clutter-free”.

Web design clutter could either be in the form of too much text content, not being able to quickly see where to go or what to do next due to bad user interface design.

Like what was mentioned above, modern websites are geared to quickly present what it has to offer to its audience.

As an example, take a look at the evolution of the AEI Speakers Bureau website.

AEI Speakers Bureau 2010 website design on the left and their 2020 web design layout

By keeping things simple and direct to the point, you’re able to convey your message much faster – and more importantly, clearer.

And if you did your homework and researched the pain points of your target audience, then you can easily create custom content that is absolutely relatable to them – which increases the chances of conversion.

Of course, SEO factors are still at play – and should not be discounted.

Always keep in mind that regardless of how aesthetically pleasing your website may be, it would amount to nothing if it doesn’t rank well in the search results for specific keywords that are related to your industry.

Google, as well as other search engines, have specific rules and guidelines that websites must adhere to in order for them to rank high on their search results. The implementation of these rules and guidelines is what is referred to as SEO (search engine optimization). 

A well planned and executed SEO campaign will allow search engines to rank your site/page/post on their search results – allowing for your product or service to be seen by more people online.

The better the visibility of your site in the search results, the higher the traffic – which could potentially boost conversion numbers as well.

That, in a nutshell, is what SEO is all about, and we will be writing about it in a later blog entry.

But aside from the benefits of increased search visibility by implementing best SEO practices, positive user experience should also be at the forefront of your site’s design and layout. 

Take for example your site’s code structure. Backend coding is something the majority of site visitors don’t really care about – but sleek coding can help make a website load faster, which in turn loads the website much faster for the site visitor – which ultimately makes for positive user experience.

Anyway, going back to the article, we all have different tastes and preferences. 

And though you may be nodding in agreement with everything written on here – there is still a slight chance that your take on things might be a bit different from what your business website actually needs in terms of aesthetics.

Here are a few things you need to consider in order to make your site more appealing to its visitors.

You need to make sure that:

  • Your site is free of any unnecessary distractions
  • Follow it up with content that forces them to scroll down.
  • If you have lots of content on your landing page, try to break it into several sections and use eye-catching imagery as separators.
  • Make sure to also insert CTA lines at strategic locations throughout the page.

So again you see that web design, in terms of content and site aesthetics, once again takes center stage.

If you’re able to make even just half of your visitors click on a CTA, that could be considered as a win don’t you think?

TOP TIP: Peak at your competitors and industry leader’s website

For research sake, there is no shame in taking a look at what more successful competitors or industry leaders are doing and what their website design looks like.

We’re not suggesting that you copy their website design, but rather use it as a comparison to your own layout.

Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and ask yourself questions like:

  • Do they have a website that you’d trust to do business with?
  • Is the company’s branding immediately visible through the website design?
  • Are their web pages filled with just the right amount of necessary information?
  • Do they make it easy for potential customers to inquire about pre-sale questions?
  • Would you buy from via their website?
  • How’s the placement of important information, like their business phone number and email address, and how easy was it to spot?
  • Does their website look good and load fast on mobile?

In short, use their web design to come up with questions that you think would help you pinpoint what the problem areas of your website are in terms of web design.

Individually, each one of those are factors that many business owners don’t bother much about. But collectively, all of them can quickly add up and become a liability.

Google cares about your business website design

Yes, that’s right. Google does care about your web design. 

From the relevant pages on your navigation bar, the information found on your blog posts, Google cares about all of that.

Why? You ask. Because search engines are concerned about providing their users with quality content too.

And when we say content, it’s not just images and words, but rather the entire user experience.

As a business, Google’s selling point is the idea of being able to give value to its users. And that’s why we earlier mentioned the load speed of your site, and if your site is search optimized.

For example:

  • Do visitors to your site need to constantly pinch site pages in order to read what’s on them? 
  • Does your site have a few broken links that have been on there for quite some time?
  • Is navigating your website easy, or do you need time to figure out where to go next?

Though two of those may be linked to SEO, it’s still part of the greater web design umbrella. And the more complicated things on your site are, the lower the quality of your site is in the eyes of Google.

When we say Google cares about your web design layout, we don’t mean that they’ll give you a call and tell you what they don’t like.

They will definitely reach out to you, but that would be through the search results – a low grade for the site on the SERP (search engine result page) to be more precise. 

In layman’s term, your website won’t get much traffic from Google because your site is not ranking or does not appear on the first couple of pages of its search results – for keywords that are highly related to your industry 

It’s as if your business and its website doesnt exist.

Like what we said earlier, Google, as well as other search engines are concerned about the browsing experience of their users. 

And if navigating your site does not make for positive user experience, then why would they want to help boost your online presence?

Quick ways to immediately boost business growth

As a rundown of what you need to do in order to not make web design a hindrance to business growth, remember to:

Create a website that is free of clutter – in order to make it load much faster, and quickly show visitors what you have to offer.

Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly – as this is how most people access the internet these days.

Your web design must be geared towards the customer – meaning that your entire website layout, as well as its content, needs to be clear, informative, relatable, and engaging.

Make your site easy to navigate – this means that important information needs to be clearly visible and accessible. 

Create an aesthetically pleasing website – that is filled with eye-catching images, great typography, and easy to read articles.

If you don’t have the time to personally do all of the things we mentioned, or prefer using a web design studio that can help your business grow with better website design, then all you need to do is send us a message.

How much does a business website cost in Singapore for 2020?

By reading this article, it’s assumed that you already know why a website is essential and can be crucial to the success of your business. So, let’s dive in on how much you should budget for your business or corporate website.

Before I tell how much you should budget for the website, we need to determine what you need first for the site.

What type of website should you have?

Startup business

If you’re just at the start of your business journey, then it’s fair to say you’d be wanting to go on a budget to save cost. You can just go for a basic website that contains information about your business nature and where you can be found. This should get you sorted until your business operations are pretty well oiled.

A typical basic website would consist of pages like the following:-

  • Home page
  • About us
  • Product / Services
  • Contact information

Growing and established business

If you’re running a small or medium business; whether you’re just growing out the startup shell or already pretty established, you’re likely to want to have a better website with extensive information.

You can also consider having an online e-commerce store if you can handle the extra responsibility. While fundamentally, offline store and e-commerce site is just selling a product/service to your customer, there can be a subtle difference. For example, you’ll need to consider the shipping costs for local and overseas delivery, the various payment gateway processing fees (transaction fee, refund charges, withholding of payment, etc). Not to mention, if you’re selling products, your e-store would also need to be able to compete with online marketplace like Qoo10, Lazada, eBay, etc.

For established businesses where you already have a stable client base and knows that KPI would move the needle to improve revenue, you need to invest in online marketing (SEO and PPC), content marketing, and email marketing. Generally, if you know what KPI moves the needle for your business, you can try to extend the reach online. For example, if you know for every ten people that walk through your door, your team is capable of converting five of them to be a customer. Then work with an SEO consultant to formulate a strategy to increase the number of leads to your office.

Some examples of web pages for established businesses:-

  • automated sales pages that are connected to CRM and payment system
  • blog posts
  • knowledge base or helpful how-to contents
  • support chat channel

Website costing checklist for 2020

Below lists some of the components that you’ll need consideration for your corporate site:-

  • Web design or web development agency
  • Domain name
  • Email hosting
  • Website hosting
  • Website software
  • Website care
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Paid Advertising
  • Sales funnel

Web design or web development agency

A web designer is someone that helps you to design the website, typically making the website as pretty or appealing as possible.

A web developer is someone that helps adds features to the website that works the way you want. Generally, you’d involve a web developer for some sort of coding work or more sophisticated customisation. Hiring a web developer is typically more expensive because the effort that goes into website development.

In Singapore, we usually use the term web designer and web developer interchangeably. I’ll just be coining the term web designer in this guide.

Agency tends to cost slightly more as they have more dedicated personnel with specific skill sets to help you, whereas freelancers might be good at just a particular aspect of web design.

A basic website; consisting of 5 pages could cost you between SGD 800 – SGD 1500.

Domain name

In layman’s terms, you can generally find this in web addresses. For example, for Google, the website is google.com, and the domain name is also google.com. For DBS bank, their domain name is dbs.com.sg.

Pricing for a domain name can vary on choice. For example, a domain name that ends with .com usually cost under SGD 15 per year while a .com.sg or .sg domain name costs about SGD 50 per year.

This article is not a guide for choosing a domain name, a general rule of thumb if your business focuses solely for the Singapore market, then it’s better to use .com.sg or .sg domain name.

Email hosting

While this isn’t part of a website itself, email is the bloodline of your empire, and it’s what’d you’d consider getting right after obtaining the domain name. These days, emails are as relevant as having a phone line. It’s more professional looking to have an email address with your domain name rather than a free Gmail or Yahoo email address.

There are a few kinds of email hosting to fit your cost.

Some web hosting plans also include email hosting. This hosting plans typically works, but reliability might be an issue. Read more on this in the shared web hosting section.

If you favour reliability, then go for industry standards like GSuite or Microsft 365 email hosting. They are much more expensive; however, you’ll have a much better experience working with email.

Website hosting

Webhosting plays an ever more important role these days. The reason being, a good web hosting that offers a fast hosting can serve the websites faster to your website visitors. All things being equal between the content of two competing sites, the site speed would determine which ranks higher in Google search result.

There are various types of website hosting, but we’ll just focus on shared hosting, dedicated hosting and managed-hosting, which is typically what Singapore businesses would use for web hosting.

Shared hosting

Shared hosting is the cheapest type of web hosting, and it usually comes with free email hosting as well. Pricing can be as low as $2 per month (typically in the region of $5)

I would generally advise steering away from shared hosting because from time to time, you’ll encounter issues with your website or email that isn’t beyond your control and the downtime can be detrimental to your business.

Let me explain, the hosting companies that offer this very competitive pricing usually cramp hundreds of client’s domains in one server to maximise profit. If only one of the client’s account is hacked or they misuse the email server to spam others (whether intentionally or otherwise), then the webserver would get blacklisted. In this scenario, all other client’s on that particular web server are also affected. Websites and email may be inaccessible for hours or days.

If cost is a major factor and shared hosting is the only option to consider, then I would recommend going with Vodien or Exabytes. This two companies also offer shared hosting have pretty good support.

Virtual Private Server hosting

Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is somewhat similar to shared hosting except that the number of servers on a web server is significantly lower.

The other good this is that if any of the client’s account is blacklisted; it generally doesn’t impact other client’s account.

VPS plans may or may not offer email hosting as well, and most starts at $5 per month or higher depending on the storage space.

Managed hosting

Managed hosting is your go-to if you prefer to not deal with the technicalities when having to face with web hosting. A company offering this service will help you to take care of all the web hosting issues for your business.

All you got to do place the web site files on to the webserver.

Price starts from $10 per month or higher depending on storage space and the type of service that the managed hosting plan covers like backup, web server firewall, etc.

Website software

Website software includes themes and plugins that the web designers use to create your desired business web site. Web designers usually use themes to build the site quickly and customise tweak to your content. This is how things are done usually. Plugins are small programs that help extend the functionality of your website.

For example, usually, WordPress (one of the most commonly used website building platforms) doesn’t come with features to track your website visitors. If you would like to track your website with Google Analytics, then a Google Analytics plugin would need to be installed and set up on the site.

There are many free and paid plugins. In some instances, the website designer would decide that a paid plugin is needed to build the website according to your requirement. Your website designer would usually convey this to you before the project starts and whether the initial cost is included in the project cost.

After the first year, you can continue to use the plugin, but you’ll usually need to pay for the plugin to receive updates for new features, performance enhancement, bug fixes and support. It is highly advisable to continue subscription if the plugin works well. One of the main reasons websites get hacked or broken is because of plugins that have not been updated.

I cannot provide you with an estimated cost for this. All plugin developers charge differently for this software. It could also be the case that your website designer can use all free plugins.

Website care

After a website has been done up and goes live, the journey doesn’t end there.

Website software (WordPress and plugins, for example); like their counterpart Windows on PC or Mac OSX on Macs need to be continuously updated. Also, the web site needs to be backed up and scanned from viruses just as you would on PC and Macs.

Website care plans usually cover tasks such as website software update, backup, security scanning, and simple web page update.

You could do all this yourself or have your staff do it. However, why not hire experts to do it and free yourself (or your team) the burden of troubleshooting each time there’s a problem with updating the website or wondering how to update a web page.

Web care plans can start from $50 per month or higher, depending on the tasks that are covered.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and content marketing

Having just a website isn’t going to help your business improve magically. It doesn’t do much on its own, especially when it is new.

Your business web site needs to adhere to rules set out by search engine like Google so that Google can know the existence of your website and understand the content. Only then can Google connect the site to someone looking for similar content. An SEO consultant’s job is primarily to help you with this and try to get you ahead of competitors vying for related searches.

The other part of the SEO consultant’s job is to help you audit and formulate a strategy for your content marketing. Content can be in the form of blog posts, graphics, videos, podcasts, etc.

Without regular content generation, Google is unlikely to want to check out your website regularly as well.

Without good content that the searcher (your potential customer) is looking for, you’ll not get their trust and potentially lose them from being your customer.

For SEO, the cost can start at $500 per month or higher while a content writer can cost $100 or higher depending on the type, quality and length of content to create.

It’s important to note that SEO is a long term project. You need to invest about 6 months typically before result starts showing.

Paid Advertising

Paid Advertising is the opposite of SEO. You pay enough money to immediately be able to challenge your competitors for searchers of your keyword choice.

I always use this analogy to describe the difference between SEO and paid advertising.

SEO is like traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM’s medication usually takes longer to cure illness or pain. Paid advertising, on the other hand, is like western medicine; where the remedy is quicker to attack the disease.

Paid advertising might seem better as it can produce an almost instant result. However, over the long term period, SEO usually triumphs as the result lasts longer even if you stop the SEO consultation. Also, if you’re targeting the right audience for paid advertising, you’re just wasting the money.

It’s best to go with SEO and use paid-advertising sparingly.

Value vs costs

Depending on the stage of your business; whether it’s still a startup or a stable business, your perception on the amount of money you need to invest for your business website might be different.

For a startup, a website might be a necessary cost, just like your name card. At the early stage, your website might not bring direct business impact to your business yet.

However, if you already have an established offline business, your business website can bring you a tremendous possibility to elevate your business to the next level. Done right, the dollars you’re investing can bring incredible value to your business. So, find the compatible web design agency to help you achieve the business goal.

Where do I hire a web designer or web design company?

I would be publishing a list of website agencies that I think can provide the best services for your website needs.

Should you want to consider us here at xSquare as your online business partner, please check us out our website design services page.