In this article, we shine a light on everything you should know about web design and development. You’ll also learn some of the more advanced elements of the topic, such as the difference between an e-commerce store and a static brochure website, what responsive web design is and why it’s essential, the main differences between ‘front-end’ and ‘back-end’ and much more.
An Introduction to Web Design & Development
If you own a business, you need a website. This is your online shop window to sell your products or services to your target audience. But where do you start?
With a small business, perhaps you simply need a couple of pages of content including your contact details. However, with a larger business, especially one that includes e-commerce, you need an expert in web development.
Many people aren’t aware of just how much goes on behind the scenes with building a website.
The user or client hopefully sees a well-made, clear website which is easy to navigate and use. If it includes buying a product, they will take the quickest and easiest route to buy it. They can see the website on any device in a responsive format and everything they click on is easy to do.
However, it’s easy to use and look at thanks to all the work that takes place by the web developer. Or in the case of a larger website, the web development team.
Web development is the structure behind building and developing a fantastic and responsive website for your business.
It can start from a single static page to a comprehensive list of applications and social network services. Hence web development can include engineering, design, content development, client liaison, scripting, security and e-commerce development. Which still doesn’t cover everything.
Generally speaking, it refers to the main non-design aspects of building websites, such as coding. Furthermore, web developers can design content management systems (CMS) to enable clients to change the content themselves and use basic technical skills.
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Infographic: A Simple Guide to Web Design & Development
The Importance Of Web Development
For very large organisations, web development teams can be made up of hundreds of people.
An ever growing set of tools and technologies means that developers can build even more dynamic and interactive websites.
For example, online retailers such as Amazon and auction sites like eBay have changed the way consumers find and buy goods.
The web development teams behind those websites are making the user journey easy to enable consumers to buy as quickly as possible. Thus increasing sales. Also, the design is key in attracting consumers to use the websites repeatedly.
Furthermore blogs are changing the way people communicate and write about their own experiences.
An excellent blog can raise interest in your business and provide users with valuable content. This is all part of the clients experience when they visit your website.
Additionally, the rise in cloud services such as dropbox and google drive means that users can now interact with applications from many locations.
For example, you no longer need to work on or visit a website from a single workstation. A good responsive website is accessible from any device and any location.
What Is the Web Development Process with Lead Genera
So, back to where you start from. Yes, it’s possible to get a free template and start designing a website yourself.
However, if you want to grow your business, respond easily to consumers and have an effective presence online, you need to get a professional website.
Furthermore, if you’re not technically minded, it can be a very complex process.
A web development agency such as Lead Genera can take all that off your hands and build the best, most responsive website for your business.
The friendly team will guide you through the website build from the initial idea to the launch.
Hence they will build something your customers love as much as you do. Whether you need a brand new website, an update to your existent website or a complete redesign.
Ultimately, the main aim is to show you and your business at your best. With Lead Genera, the web development process is geared to understanding what you want to achieve before the build starts.
What are your goals for your business? This helps to make sure that less time is spent on the coding, adding value and keeping your investment lower.
The web development process starts with an initial call to get a better understanding of your business, your current and target audience. As well as what you are looking to achieve in the short-mid-long term.
The team of specialists at Lead Genera will do their best to act like one of your employees to fully understand your aspirations. Next, they’ll discuss things like colours, fonts and branding.
Design and Content
With that knowledge, the next step is to brief the design and content team.
The design team will build a mock up of each page, the look, the feel and the functionality.
This will give you an idea of what your website will look like. Hence it’s a good opportunity to make sure the design element is spot on and to make any minor changes.
Then, the content team will put together content for each of the pages and ensure each page is optimised for the search engine rankings.
During this phase, you will receive regular calls to update you on the process and get your thoughts on the build.
When the design stage is complete and signed off by you, the web development stage is next.
The team will build the coding for your website to the exact specifications agreed on. You will be updated all through the process.
Finally, it’s launch day! Your website is now ready for you to show off to your audience. As part of the contract, Lead Genera offer a 30 day support period to help fix anything that you are not happy with.
This is for your peace of mind. The team are confident that everything will be fine.
Now you have an excellent, responsive website, you can watch your sales grow which will ultimately lead to your business growing too.
5 Principles of Good Responsive Web Design and Development
1. What Do You Want Users To See?
Your website design is crucial to how long customers will stay looking at it, and ultimately, whether their journey leads to a sale or action. So, you need to decide what the focus is.
What do you want to grab their attention? Maybe you want them to sign up to a newsletter first. Or to focus on a particular product. This will all be part of the conversation with your website agency.
Here, the details like font size, typography and the amount of white space are all elements that designers will work on. Furthermore, these elements will make a difference to how easy it is to use your website.
2. What Do You Want Users To Know?
A good website design is not enough on its own. It should also communicate effectively. Therefore, the content and the words you use on it really matter.
Your approach to writing for the website should be conversational and personal as much as possible. Try to avoid technical terms and acronyms that people won’t understand.
Also, there’s no need to waffle. Keep the content to a reasonable length that people can consume easily. The tone and style on your website is all part of your overall branding.
It should reflect what you want to communicate to your customer. If you are not a keen writer, don’t worry. The web agency will have a content team who are all experts.
All you need to do is to communicate what you want the website to say, they will write it for you in your chosen tone and style.
3. The User Journey or Navigation
Now you have an attractive, well designed website with lots of good content.
But is it easy for the consumer to find what they need? For example, perhaps they are looking for a particular product that doesn’t feature on the home page.
How will they find it on your website? This is a hugely important part of the web design and development process. Websites are no longer just static pages. There are a number of interactive features and pages.
But the key is to make sure that your content doesn’t get lost.
Ultimately, this is crucial for e-Commerce sites in particular. Make sure to tag all your content so that the search engine can crawl your site to retrieve results.
4. What do You Want Users To Do?
So from the initial call to get a new website, you must have thought about what you want your website users to do. Do you want them to visit your shop? To purchase online? Or to read your content?
What is the purpose of your website? For example, by ensuring that your website is optimised for the search engines, it can be seen and promoted more easily.
Furthermore, you want the site to be seamless and intuitive for your users to engage in the services on your site.
You can test the website from the point of view of a consumer, does it achieve what you want?
5. A Responsive and Accessible website
The increasing demand for mobile solutions means it’s essential that your website is built for screens of all sizes.
Responsive design is not just a phase, it’s here to stay. You want your website to be accessible from any location and from any device.
Why You Need A Professional Website for Your Business
With this in mind, you can hopefully see why it’s important to get a professional website developer to build your website. It can be an incredibly complex structure.
Perhaps your business has reached this far without a website and is successful.
You might be wondering if you need a website at all. In short, if you want to grow your sales and business further, then it’s essential to have a website.
Furthermore, it offers a wide variety of benefits and most of these benefits increase each year.
Here are a few quick facts;
- 84% of consumers think a website makes your business more credible than companies who only have social media profiles.
- Your website can attract new customers through google
- You can clearly showcase your products and services
- You can display your best reviews and testimonials
- A website encourages a relationship with your customers
- It can establish your place in the industry
Hence the benefits of having a website in the digital age far outweigh a decision to go without one.
Getting a website for your business is one of the best investments you can make.
It helps you to look professional, to engage with your customers and to grow your company.
How To Choose A Web Development Agency
So now you are sure you want a professional website for your business, but how to do you choose who you work with? What agency is right for you?
Very obviously, not all websites are the same. Moreover, there are different costs involved. It may help to choose 3 or 4 different agencies and chat through your initial thoughts.
You can get an overall quote from each one and compare them.
Generally speaking, it’s not just the cost that matters.
You will be working with the web development company on a build. Therefore, you are hiring a technology partner. It’s essential that you get along with the people you are working with.
After that initial call, what do you think? Would you be able to work with this team for a period of time?
Make sure you have in mind the level of support you will need.
For example, are you just looking for a new website build. Or, would you like IT support with the website after that? And for how long? These are all factors to consider when you decide who you want to work with.
Additionally, you can check out reviews from other people who have used the web development company.
Look at their website and social media sites. What do you think of their previous work? You should start to get a feel of which company will suit your project.
5 Top Tips For Ecommerce Website Design & Development
Generally speaking, if you’re selling anything via your website, it’s likely that you will need e-commerce as part of the overall design.
This is where good, responsive website design is critical because you want to attract customers to your website.
Ultimately, you want them to buy your products and this should be an incredibly easy thing to do.
So here are 5 top tips for a great e-commerce website:
1. Keep it as simple as possible
You’ve seen advertising where it’s so overcrowded with images or words shouting at you, that you can’t even see what the product is.
It just puts you off. Hence, the same counts with websites.
Clean, simple and easy to follow are the key points to a really good website.
Keep the focus on the sale. Too many distractions will drive the customer away or in a different direction.
2. Make Your Brand Visible
It makes sense, but you’ll be surprised at how some websites carry branding that’s difficult to see.
For example, perhaps your logo is a nice amalgamation of letters, but if a customer can’t decipher who you are or what you are selling, they will go elsewhere.
Take time to define your brand. Can you describe it in 3 words? Compare it to your competitors and see how you can stand out.
Then work that branding through your website.
3. Think Like Your Audience
Think about your favourite online shop. What do you like about their website and how easy is it to use?
When creating your own website along with an agency, it’s essential to think like a customer.
- How easy is it to find a product and then put it in a basket?
- Can you check out quickly and safely and is there a thank you email to follow up?
This exercise will also help to raise any issues with your user journey so you can iron those out as the build progresses.
4. Always Use High Quality Images
With an e-commerce website, getting professional images is essential. Ultimately, you are selling your products and putting your business out into the market. It needs to look good.
Additionally, if customers are confident with what they are seeing, they are more likely to make a purchase.
A single low quality image is more likely to make a customer hesitate, or put them off completely.
5. Make It Look Professional
Along with point 4, your website needs to look professional. Everything should be consistent from page to page.
No spelling mistakes, no dodgy low quality images and no sudden colour or font changes.
Keep it all consistent and professional and potential customers will have far more confidence in buying from your website.
If you want people to take you seriously, you need to take your website design and development seriously.
With these 5 tips for your e-commerce website, you can start to see how much effort goes on behind the website build. This e-commerce checklist will help to ensure that you achieve a highly responsive and attractive website.
Firstly, your website needs an excellent user experience or UX. This involves all aspects of the consumer’s interaction with the company, its services and products.
For example, does your website stand out among your competitors.
Once a user has found it, is it easy to navigate? Can a consumer find what they want immediately or will it take several clicks and searches to get to a product? Does your content add value and is it easy to understand?
Furthermore, the user experience includes how your website looks on different devices, this is part of the responsive design.
Converting to sales
Converting leads to sales comes back to whether people consider you as a credible business. Once again, a professional website will help here. High quality images and well written content all contribute to your credibility.
Furthermore, by giving visitors a clear call to action, such as ‘add to basket’ you are prompting them to focus on the sale.
Product descriptions should also be on your checklist. You may be surprised at how much it helps towards a sale to have a great product description.
For example, the keywords you use to describe products can get your website higher in the search engine rankings.
Therefore, more leads will find your website, and hopefully convert to sales.
E-commerce SEO relies on specific relevant keywords to be weaved into descriptions and content throughout your website. Remember, that you are writing for the customer, and not for the search engines.
The keywords and phrases should be easily placed within a product description.
The key to writing good content for an e-commerce website is to focus on your audience first. Think about who you are writing for.
Then, Google comes second. You may find yourself getting caught up with keywords, links and other SEO ideas to make your website stand out more.
However, it’s crucial that you focus on writing to your target audience, then weave the rest into it.
Additionally, you can include customer testimonials.
If your customers are happy, tell people! This will help to increase your credibility as a business too. Another tip is to avoid content that repeats itself.
For example, don’t copy product descriptions from other websites.
Create your own unique content. If you copy over previously published content, google will index the original content instead of yours and you will lose out on website visits and potential leads.
E-Commerce Website Examples
When thinking about your website, consider why certain websites are incredibly popular and why they are easy to use.
In other words, look at them as a customer and reflect on what makes the ‘user journey’ easy.
A few examples in the list of top e-commerce websites are Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Wayfair.
Amazon started as an online bookstore and then diversified into all the products that we see now.
How To Plan A Website Development Project
If you have chosen a website development team, they will guide you through the whole process from start to finish.
Here are 8 steps they will take to help you plan your website project.
1. Define The Goal and Purpose of Your Website
Why do you want a website in the first place? Earlier in the article, we talked about the fact that if you own a business, then having a website in the digital age is pretty essential.
Furthermore, it needs to look professional as it is your online shop window. Your website represents your business. So, what do you want to achieve from it?
It could be that you sell products. For example, you have an interior design business and you want to sell sofas and chairs. Your main goal is probably to sell your products.
Therefore, you will need a quality e-commerce website that stands out from your competitors.
Perhaps you are an events company and you want to advertise your events and sell as many tickets as possible.
Or you might be a charitable organisation and you want to raise global awareness of certain issues.
For all of these, especially if you are a new business, you want to look professional and grow your credibility within your industry.
2. Plan the Overall Organisation or Wireframe
Next, you will start to put together the structure of your website. How many pages do you need without it being too complicated for a consumer.
- What titles and headings are you going to use?
- What is the main focus of your website and where should that go?
- How do you want your home page to look?
A wireframe will include where the images go and the short descriptions and content.
At this stage it looks a bit like a template or sketch of your website.
3. Organise and Prioritise Your Content
Then, you and your team will organise where you want the content to be.
It may not all be written yet, but you can get a good idea of what you will need. For example, if you are selling biscuits and cakes, you might want to focus more on the images than the words.
The valuable content could be the list of ingredients, or whether you organise deliveries.
You may not need that content on the home page, but it still needs to be available and easy to access.
Maybe your customer testimonials should be on the home page, “lovely cakes, I’ve never tasted anything so yummy.”
This is the stage where you can talk it through with your web developer and designer. They are the experts, and may give you some more ideas.
A timeline is extremely important for both the designer and the client.
Potentially, you could build a website in a variety of different ways. Furthermore, as your business grows, you may need adaptions to your website in the future.
However, assuming you don’t have an endless supply of money to pay your developer, there needs to be a cut off point. You also need an end result. Generally speaking, by following each stage of the process, agreeing on a timeline will be easy.
Additionally, it will help to establish a budget at the outset. Again, get some advice on this. Obviously, a complex e-commerce website will cost more than a simple site with a few pages.
Also, the more functionality it needs, the more money it will cost.
Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anything between £200 up to £10,000 for a large, complex website.
Once all the planning is complete, it’s time to create your website. With all the knowledge and ideas you have given your team to work with, they can now create the perfect look.
This will include the branding, the images and content. The web developer will do all the coding which puts each item in the right place according to your structure and wireframe.
7. User Testing & Functionality
Then, you can go through the functionality of your website. View it as a customer. This is the point where you can make any minor changes to ensure your website is how you want it.
Finally, you are ready to launch. Get marketing your website if you haven’t already started to.
Getting the Most From Your New Website
To get the most from your new website, you can use other tools to increase traffic to it. Social media marketing can be very important here.
Ultimately, the traffic sent to your website can turn into leads, which can then convert to sales. The more traffic you get, the more potential to sell your products or services.
However, you do need to invest time in your marketing efforts.
Social media marketing requires you to post regularly and engage with your customers. Additionally, by creating engaging content, you can keep your customers interested in your business.
You can choose to grow on social media in an organic way, or there is the option to grow faster with the help of paid advertisements. The paid ads can really help with creating brand awareness and generating traffic to your website.
Another way to drive traffic to your website is to use email marketing effectively. Email marketing can include newsletters, blog posts or promotional offers and discounts.
Keep the headings and topics simple but appealing enough so that the audience opens the email out of curiosity.
What suits you best will depend on your website and the purpose that you want to achieve from it. You can try a variety of different tools and tips. Use organic ways to create leads, but also use paid advertisements.
Ultimately, you will start to learn how to attract customers to your website.
Moreover, by using an analytical tool, you can trace what works and what doesn’t.
For example, google analytics will give you an important overview of who is viewing your website, when and for how long. You can then adjust your marketing to adapt to the information from the analytics.
Best Web Design and Development Techniques
What makes a website visually attractive to you? In terms of competitors, why do you prefer one website over the other? Perhaps you are intuitively drawn to one in particular.
Think about why this is. The visual design of your website is incredibly important. Here are some of the best web design techniques.
- Remember, it should be simple, clear and easy to navigate.
- Your branding should also be clear and easily visible. Visitors to your website don’t have time to work out who you are or what you offer. Maybe they’ve found you online because they are looking for something in particular. This is where you need to stand out among your competitors, so that when it comes to making a decision, the customer chooses you.
- Content is just as important as the overall look. Your website is an online resource for people. For example, you may be selling houses as an estate agency. It’s one thing to advertise all the houses for sale in your local area. It’s another to add information about buying a house. Perhaps in the form of a blog with headings such as ‘when is the best time to buy?’ Or ‘how to find a local solicitor’. Or ‘a guide to moving house’. Extra content which is relevant to the consumer can help your business to stand out from others. Thus your content marketing is an essential part of the overall web design and web development.
- It should be web friendly and responsive. Basically, you can have a website with all the bells and whistles, but if a customer can’t access it or it loads very slowly, they will go elsewhere. Thus everything on your website needs to be as straightforward as possible.
- High quality images with excellent product descriptions will highlight the quality and the credibility of your website. Therefore, along with quality content, your business will become known as a serious competitor in its field.
The Benefits Of A Business Website
Nowadays social media has opened a whole new world of advertising opportunities, some free, some paid and businesses can make the most of this.
However, an excellent website is still an essential part of your business if you want it to grow and to stay as an online presence in front of your customers.
Here are the main reasons why web development continues to be important and why you should definitely get a website for your business;
A business website will help you to protect your brand identity by owning your own web address, website and domain. Thus you are not giving up control of your brand to a third party website and their advertisements.
You can control your content. With your own website, you get to create original, specific content which engages with the customers you want to reach. You can control the user experience and help steer leads to the sale.
An excellent blog will provide a focus point for all your content.
From here, you will be able to send visitors to different parts of your website. Again, the control is yours. You get to decide what you want your customers to see and how to get them there.
Additionally, a business website works well with social media channels. By promoting your website across social media, you can drive traffic to it.
Then, thanks to your excellent responsive website, the customers will learn more about your business and your products or services.
Ultimately, the more traffic you get, the more leads you will convert into sales. Thus, your business and profits will grow.
Effective web development allows you to analyse statistics.
So, you can then tweak and improve aspects of your website to perfect it even more.
Perhaps your goals have changed or you want to introduce another level of engagement or content.
Generally speaking, your business website is your most valuable online asset, so it’s worth taking web development seriously.
To sum up, your website is the digital window to your business. All your products, services, information and contact details are in one place, your online shop. Your aim is to drive traffic to your website and turn potential leads into customers and sales.
Furthermore, by using a tool such as google analytics, you can also track what’s happening when people visit your website. Thus, you can gather extremely useful data about your website visitors.
Hopefully you can see how important it is to have a good website for your business. One that is visually appealing, but also useful as a resource and a way of engaging with customers.
If it sounds like a lot of work to you, it doesn’t have to be.
Web design and development includes a wide skill set and techniques are changing and updating all the time. That’s why, if you want a professional and credible website, it’s much better to get in the experts.
At Lead Genera, the team harness the latest technologies and strategies in web development and digital marketing to help brands achieve their aims.
As a business itself, Lead Genera is constantly reinvesting in technology and its people, to keep ahead in the industry. Hence each client ends up with a long lasting product of extremely high quality.
You can see previous work by Lead Genera, including client websites at www.leadgenera.com
The team at Lead Genera specialise in lead generation services, marketing consultancy search engine optimisation, and website design and development. They pride themselves on building websites with enhanced visibility to maximise a company’s potential.
Projects are specified and simplified and if you work with Lead Genera, you can keep track of the project build at all times. Any communication happens directly with the people working on your website.
Website development with Lead Genera starts from £1,999, so get in touch with us today at www.leadgenera.com where you can chat in real time via a messaging system.
If you would like further examples of their work or business, you can also follow them on Facebook, twitter, Linkedin or Instagram. Start growing your business today with a responsive website by Lead Genera.