All the Bells and Whistles, Do You Need Them?
All the latest bells and whistles
Are they really all they are cracked up to be? Do you even need them?
With our clients, we often discuss particular aspects of website design, or are asked to review the client’s existing website.
Web design and marketing are highly specialized fields, and the building of an effective website is usually something of a collaboration — aesthetic and practical — between our client and our designers and developers.
For most companies, a website serves the purpose of presenting their services or products — either for offline sales or to conduct business transactions online at the website (e-commerce). When it comes down to heart of it, the website is an advertisement for your business.
However, there are a lot of neat effects out there on the Web. Flash animation or popping pictures, text that scrolls along the status bar, drop-down boxes containing links to other pages, and other effects can all potentially contribute to your website’s effect upon your visitors.
There is also the matter of what is current in web design. Websites, more than many other marketing platforms, quickly can become outdated in a very short period of time. Web styles come and go within single months and keeping up with those styles is almost near impossible. In the early days of the internet, websites were entirely text-based. However, once websites gained the ability to use pictures and graphics, a whole new world for websites was opened up. Websites suddenly could support beautiful graphic backgrounds and images with numerous effects. These effects can be beautifully and tastefully done, and can be put to good use in graphics design and other art-related websites. However, they can also be a bit too much as well. Purple satin-sheet background might not create the effect you are looking to create for your accountancy firm’s website.Similarly, blinking or animated pictures and text may be a little too eye-catching, making it difficult for your viewers to concentrate on your text.
The existence of different brands of browsers — Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer as well as the older versions of these browsers — creates another problem. Not all effects can be seen in every browser.This browser compatibility problem — the problem of designing your website to look the same in all current or fairly-current browsers — can usually be handled, but having complex images, graphics and animations makes this tricky.
So, What Does Your Website Need?
Determining what your small business website needs is where marketing comes into play. The real questions are:
- what products/services do you offer?
- what are your customers looking for on your website?
- where do you want your customers to go on your website?
What are you offering? Your potential customers will want to know about your services and products and about you. Pictures help tremendously to balance out the text and lend an aesthetic quality to the overall website design. Do you own a restaurant? Show off your location and the surrounding area! Lets see some pictures!
What do your customers need? Customers online want the information they are looking for, and they want it fast. Your website design should compliment the needs of your consumer. While flashy designs and animations might look kind of cool, before putting them on your website, be sure that they are actually needed on the website.
What do you want them to do at your website?
The question “what do your customers need” is tempered only by what you are trying to achieve with your website.
Of course, you want to give your customers what they need … pictures and prices of your products? Directions to your store? Online ordering? Make it simple and easy for them.
However, this is where sales comes into the picture. If you are using the website to gain sales leads, you want potential customers to call you. This is a different proposition than offering goods for sale online.
Certainly a website should look professional, with quality graphics to both decorate the pages and illustrate your point. Attention should be paid to download time, depending on who your customers are.
But never forget one thing. The “neat” effects of a website — how your message is delivered — must contribute to rather than distract from your marketing message and what your customers need. What bells and whistles might be needed should be dependent on this alone.