Do You Know What to Look for in an SEO Web Design Company?
This article provides helpful tips to those individuals and teams tasked with finding a web design agency to develop their next website. Too often, we see people making poor decisions when it comes to one of their most important company assets; their website. Webolutions has been among Denver’s top web design companies for almost 25 years and shares tips and insights to help avoid costly website design and development mistakes.
What is SEO Web Design?
SEO web design is a best-in-class approach to designing and developing websites that rank well and have a high conversion rate. When a web design company designs and develops a website with search engine optimization a primary focus throughout the entire website build process, these websites perform better. SEO designed websites rank higher in the search engines and, subsequently, generate more website traffic and potential customers. Furthermore, because the SEO web design process also factors in a good user experience, visitors stay on the site longer, visit more pages and complete more actions like form completions or picking up the phone to call. Websites that are optimized for rankings, traffic and conversions provide a higher return on investment.
Table of Contents:
Tips for Selecting an SEO Web Design and Development Company
The first consideration when designing and building a website is to have a clear understanding of who your website is for, that is, who is your ideal client/customer? Another important consideration is what do you want your website to do? Is it to generate leads or sales? Understanding your target customer persona impacts how the website should look and function. Skipping this step often results in poor website conversion rates and reinvestment in another website sooner than otherwise needed.
As eluded to above, skipping steps in the website design and development process often results in spending more money than is otherwise necessary. We often see prospective clients making the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons. While budget is certainly a factor, a greater wholistic understanding of what a website costs is needed to make better informed decisions. Is saving $5,000 today for a custom website, worth losing tens-of-thousands of dollars in potential revenue each year? High converting websites require more planning, more functionality, more rich media and more customization than a standard template-based website, therefore, they cost more.
Attention to detail takes more time. It is truly unfortunate when one chooses a website design company based solely on a glitzy presentation with beautiful images and design. While design and layout are critically important, it is not the most important aspect of a website. Too often people choose a web design company because of visual appeal, rather than well thought out functionality and optimization for superior website rankings and conversions. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
This section of the article gets to the heart of the matter. We provide the top 3 elements that should be included in a well optimized website design that will rank well and result in greater conversions. If any of these tips are not discussed by your short-list of web design companies, you may want to keep looking.
The goal of this article is to prepare those who do not know what to look for and what questions to ask when hiring a web design agency. We provide you the top questions to ask when vetting web design firms. The answers to these 5 questions will provide you necessary information to make a well-informed decision that you will not regret later.
1. Website Goals & Objectives: Who is Your Website for & Why?
The primary consideration when selecting a web design company is whether they’re interested in understanding your target market and purpose of your website. If a prospective web development company does not ask these questions, this is note worthy for your decision making and could be a red flag.
Many web design firms have their roots in graphic design. Agencies that have a heritage of visual appeal produce exceptional looking websites. A great looking website, however, is only one factor when selecting a design and development company for your website. Presuming the goal of your website is to generate leads and/or revenue, much more needs to be considered than simply visual appeal.
To maximize the return on your website investment, it is critically important to understand who you wish to attract to your website and what you want them to do. Having a clear conversion or sales funnel is really the main purpose of many corporate websites. You are investing money to make money. The primary goal, therefore, should be a website that is both visually appealing and maximizes the website conversion rate.
Perhaps a moment to clarify what we mean by “conversion” is necessary. Typically, a corporate website is used to acquire something. It may be acquiring leads by obtaining name, email address and phone number. Or, another common website goal is to develop brand awareness by providing valuable information to visitors. In this case, a conversion might be having visitors download a case study or other information that promotes a favorable impression of your brand. Perhaps the best-known type of conversion is the purchase of a product or service.
Considering that you are investing thousands of dollars on a new website, you better make sure both you and your website development company understand who you wish to attract and take action on your website. After all, how can a website be well-optimized for rankings and conversions if you don’t know the proper “voice” (content/copy/words to use), visual elements and user experience to deliver to a visitor. Chose the wrong language, use the wrong visuals or provide a difficult to use website for your visitors, and they’ll likely go elsewhere, which defeats the purpose of your website.
Ensure your web development company is interested in who you are attempting to attract to your website and the action you wish for them to take once on the site.
2. Incorrect Focus on What is Important: Budget Should not be the Primary Consideration.
We often see prospective clients making the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons. Skipping steps in the website design and development process to save money often results in costing the company more in the long run.
While budget is certainly a factor, a greater wholistic understanding of what a website costs is needed to make better informed decisions. Is saving $5,000 today for a custom website, worth losing tens-of-thousands of dollars in potential revenue each year? High converting websites require more planning, more functionality, more rich media and more customization than a standard template-based website, therefore, they cost more.
You are investing time and money into a new website for it to accomplish something. Ensure the proper planning and research is performed to maximize the return on your investment.
Top 5 Considerations when Building a New Website
1. Purpose of the Website – What are the goals for a new website?
2. Functionality Needed – Is a shopping cart, CRM or other back-end integration needed?
3. Geographic Focus – Who are we marketing to local, national or international visitors?
4. Target Visitor – What are the demographics of our ideal visitor?
5. Conversion optimization – Is the site optimized for rankings, user experience & conversion?
3. Don’t Choose Glitz & Glamour over Substance.
Addressing the top 5 considerations when building a new website takes time and attention to detail. This part of the website design and development process is essential and is not as fun as seeing the actual design, layout and graphics. It is truly unfortunate when one chooses a website design company based solely on a glitzy presentation with beautiful images and design.
While design and layout are critically important, it is not the most important aspect of a website. Too often people choose a web design company because of visual appeal, rather than well thought out functionality and optimization for superior website rankings and conversions. Choosing a web design company primarily based upon “wow” visuals is a common mistake and often hurts a company’s performance in the long run.
By understanding the purpose, functionality, geographic focus, target audience and optimization requirements, we can make better decisions on what is truly most important for a successful website redesign. The most important thing for a website is traffic, which requires being found on the search engines. We must first get the potential customer to our website, then we can impress them with visual appeal. Don’t make the mistake of putting the cart in front of the horse.
4. Top 3 SEO Website Design and Development Tips
We provide the top 3 elements that should be included in a well optimized website design that will rank well and result in greater conversions. If any of these elements are not discussed by your short-list of web design companies, you may want to keep looking.
1. Ensure the website is developed with search engine optimization the primary focus. To accomplish common website goals such as brand awareness, lead generation or making sales, your site needs to be found by potential customers. Trying to rank well without building in the most important search optimization elements places your website at a tremendous disadvantage.
If you’re taking the time and money to build a new better performing website, please ensure these important technical SEO elements are included:
- Mobile friendly Responsive Website Design
- Fast Load Time
- SSL Encryption (https:// rather than http://)
- Customizable content areas for headers (H1, H2, H3), meta title & description
- URL Structure
2. Equally important as the technical website optimization elements above is on-page SEO. The most important considerations for well optimized page content, include:
- Keyword Research – for what terms do we wish rank well and attract traffic?
- Content – is our page content optimized for desired keywords?
- Page Flow – is the order of the content presented logically for users?
- Internal Links – are internal links used wisely to help find more information?
3. Ensure visitors have a good user experience. A well optimized website must also take into account ease of use and finding desired information. How often have you visited a website and made an immediate decision to leave the site because it appeared too cluttered or was confusing to use?
Important Web Design and Development Considerations for a Better Customer Experience
- Simple navigation – do not over-whelm your visitor with too many options
- Well thought out journey to desired conversion points
- Interactive – allow visitor to choose what they see or wish to skip
- Clean layout – use negative space wisely, do not clutter pages
5. Top 5 Questions to Ask Prospective Web Design Companies
The goal of this article is to prepare those who do not know what to look for and what questions to ask when hiring a web design company. We provide you the top questions to ask when vetting web design firms. The answers to these 5 questions will provide you necessary information to make a well-informed decision that you will not regret later.
1. Do you build custom websites or use templates?
It is important to know what you are getting for your investment. Template based websites are much quicker to design and develop, therefore, they typically cost much less than a custom designed website. Because custom websites are designed for specific needs and goals, they tend to perform better than template-based sites that do not have as much flexibility in design, user experience and functionality.
2. What involvement and information will you need from me?
Achieve an understanding of the needs of the web design company. Are they asking for very little? Perhaps they simply want to know your favorite colors and other websites you like. Or, does your web designer and developer want to know important things like your goals and objectives for the website? Do they want to know your target customer and, if you don’t know, do they walk you through the process of creating customer personas to ensure the site is designed to attract your ideal visitor?
You’ll want to know how much time you or your team will need to invest in the process. Will you be available to answer important questions or take care of necessary tasks? If you are not, then one can anticipate a longer web design process because of delays.
3. Who will populate content?
A common area that is either not discussed or not made adequately clear is who will populate the website content? Some web design companies may enter all content for you. Others may require you to do it. Knowing who will populate the website content is important because it impacts how much the project will cost, how much time you or your team will be involved and how long the project will take to complete.
Companies often over-look content population and how much time or money it will take. For larger websites with thousands of pages, it is a very important consideration because it will either require many hours of your company’s time or cost more than perhaps expected to have your web developer move the content for you. It is not as simple as an export from the old website and import to the new site, especially with a custom website that is more dynamic with greater functionality.
4. What content management system (CMS) will you use to build my website?
Knowing the platform on which your website will be built is important because it will impact the ease with which you can edit or modify the website. The WordPress CMS, for example, tends to be more intuitive than others and, therefore, a custom WordPress website is often easier to learn and use.
An easy to use website CMS saves time and money because the client is able to perform some of the inevitable site modifications themselves. If the web developer must make every change, this will require coordination with the developer and likely result in taking more time. It certainly will cost more money.
5. How long will the web design and development process take?
If you have a date by when your website needs to be up and running, you’d better know whether your web developer can complete the project by that date. Associated with this question is the need to know how often the prospective web design company misses their deadlines. Also, ask them what areas in the process tend to cause the most delays. Are these areas under your control or theirs? Nothing is more disappointing than to have what was supposed to be a 3-month process take 6 months.
We often see prospective clients making decisions about their website design and development project without achieving a proper understanding of the pros and cons of the various methods web design companies may use. Some methods are fast and cheap but may not offer as much customization. A custom website typically takes longer and costs more money. Choosing a web developer based primarily on beautiful graphics is not enough. Important questions need to be asked to address important factors like the purpose and goals of the website, target customer, functionality, ease with which the website can be modified, user experience and time frame for completion. Designing and building a well-performing website takes research, time and proper execution to ensure the website can be found on the search engines and can convert visitors to take the desired action(s) once on your website. Investing in a website that looks beautiful but provides a poor user experience and does not rank well is a mistake. If you are going to invest in a new website, take the necessary time and research to choose the right web design company.