The first few seconds
A lot happens in the first moments after someone arrives at your website; they take note of the most prominent colours, shapes, words and visual relationships they see and round them all up into one big initial impression - possibly without having got as far as reading anything.
That relatively basic set of influences is being used to form an opinion about your site that will last beyond those first few seconds; about its quality, its usefulness and even how successful your business appears to be. First impressions almost never tell the whole story, but a positive initial reaction can go a long way towards establishing a sense of professionalism, authority and trust... and convince people it's worth digging deeper.
Good first impressions through good design
Design plays a big role in those first impressions. Your website's design is what gives it a visual identity and impact, as well as defining how the different parts of the page will work together to get your message across. Basically it's the structure and style that your content – text, images or other information – will fit into.
I provide a bespoke service for clients looking to enhance their online presence with a modern, unique and engaging website design.
- A more exclusive look than 'off the shelf' designs offer
- A distinctive branded website, using your own logo, images or colour scheme
- A responsive design that looks great on desktops, phones and tablets
Visit these live websites to see some examples of what's possible:
Hayley Marshall, www.hayleymarshallcounselling.co.uk
While first impressions are about creating a strong visual impact that will attract and engage, there has to be more to your website if you want people to keep reading. A well thought-out design can go hand-in-hand with changes to the text and images on the individual pages of a site, helping create a sophisticated combination of design and content that ensures your business really stands out against the competition.
Website content to engage & entertain
If the design is the attractive menu board hanging outside the restaurant, then the content is the meal at the table; it's about thought, structure and presentation, what you want to say and how you say it, and how you bring people to a deeper understanding of what you offer. Now that you've got them to come in and sit down, what are you going to serve up?
The content of a website is the part that fits into the design and changes from page to page - the text and images that describe who you are, where you are and what you do. Usually these are the things that can be easily altered through the Administration area of a 'content management' site.
Justin Smith, www.otscentre.co.uk
Well-planned, attractive content and features like contact forms, maps and videos can help make your website look professional and easy to read, and keep potential clients engaged while you develop your message. Work on the content of a website could involve any of the following:
- Styling web pages using colours, fonts and signature graphics
- Sourcing and preparing images, or optimising them for faster download times
- Online forms, embedded maps or video and shopping cart facilities
- Updating existing content to make it 'mobile-friendly'
Careful and considered design work can integrate the content and overall look of a website to the advantage of both, providing visitors with a coherent, impressive and engaging experience. With a bit of creativity and planning you can make sure that every aspect of your site looks as good as possible and works to best effect, as part of a sophisticated whole.
Working to a budget
While almost all aspects of how a website looks and functions can be personalised using bespoke design, some clients don't need - or have the budget - to fully explore this option. It's not always necessary to rework a website from the ground up to make it distinctive; changes to the colours, fonts or styling of an existing design can make a big difference to the impression a website makes, especially if there are also outside elements like a logo or colour scheme ready to be incorporated into a new look.
Here are examples of websites using this cost-effective option, making some bespoke changes without altering the basic structure of the page:
For clients with sites hosted by PHD Interactive I also offer Value websites, a prepared layout that comes with extra one-to-one customisation, available at a fixed cost. Find out more here.
Charlotte Huggins, www.silvertreesyoga.co.uk
If you are interested in bespoke design for your website or help with work on its content, or if you would like to find out more about what's possible within a limited budget, please get in touch.