7 Ways Web Design Impacts Functionality, SEO & Perceptions

Here at DesignCoral, the value of efficient and high-quality web design for any online brand is well understood. While the mission, products, services and/or goals of a company or organization should be front and center, audiences undoubtedly evaluate brands based on their appearance. Just as it is true for individuals in the professional world, so is it for brands online.

Because online first impressions quite literally lack a human touch, how your website appears to visitors can have a huge impact. Not only is your website’s look and feel influential in forming perceptions among people, but it has a profound impact on elements such as marketing, search engine optimization, and broader functionality.

To ensure your website is optimized for algorithms and audiences alike, there are many pieces of advice that need to be followed. With such a huge impact on your brand’s online fortunes, you literally cannot afford to neglect this aspect of web development and management.

Today, we will examine 8 ways in which websites are profoundly impacted by web design, ranging from search engine visibility and marketing to user experience and conversions.

Design Impacts Bounce Rates

One immediate effect that web design can have on your traffic and SEO relates to the first impression users develop. Whenever somebody visits a page for the first time and immediately leaves, this generates a metric known as “bounce rate”. Bounce rates refer to what percentage of people land on one of your pages and immediately leave.

There are many things that can cause this to occur: in the case of poorly-designed sites, a natural revulsion from the visitor is a common reason. Page relevance also plays a big role and is perhaps the biggest reason why bounce rates can be so harmful.

Search engines in particular analyze bounce rates to determine page relevance (and therefore, rankings). As such, if visitors are leaving your site immediately in droves, that sends signals to search engines that your page isn’t “relevant” or “desirable”. This can lead to reduced visibility in search – and therefore, less traffic over time.

People Are Judgemental

It is human nature to develop opinions about people, places and things in a moment’s notice. We don’t usually consciously do this, but there is a reason why first impressions count. From disappointing your soon-to-be in-laws to stumbling at a job interview, this can create permanent impressions.

First-time visitors to your website are judging it in a similar fashion. If they arrive for the first time and see a website that is poorly-designed, unfriendly in terms of navigating or finding content, or just doesn’t sit right with them, then their chances of leaving – and never returning – is quite high.

Because of this, building a website that conforms to aesthetically-pleasing and highly-functional tenets of web design is essential.

Mobile Experience Is Everything

Did you know that most people now use mobile devices on a more regular basis than traditional desktop and laptop computers? Especially true for those on-the-go, people searching for information and solutions often turn to their mobile devices first and foremost.

This is a big reason why Google implemented its mobile-first indexing policy a couple of years ago. Simply put, Google now prioritizes websites that provide suitable mobile designs and experiences over websites that do not. Particularly true for older websites, a stellar design can still harm your visibility if it is not mobile responsive.

For those unfamiliar with how mobile responsive design works, many tutorials exist online. In short, this process ensures that your website design and layout is optimized for each specific visitor based on their device or computer.

Page Speed Affects Everything

The speed at which your pages load can have an influence on SEO and user experience – for better or worse. There are many elements that can affect how quickly pages load on your website, from the hosting provider and files included on each page to website plug-ins and frivolous code.

Every website design should have a page speed goal of two seconds or less in mind; in other words, all of your pages should load in two seconds or less. The reason for this is simple: analysis of Google rankings suggests that pages that take longer than two seconds to load begin to drop rapidly in rankings.

Furthermore, user experience can be impacted as well. Particularly true for those on mobile devices, people do not like to wait around forever for big, unoptimized pages to load. This will compound any issues with your bounce rate as frustrated, impatient visitors leave and look for solutions elsewhere.

User Experience Determines Clicks & Conversions

Whether your website represents a non-profit charity or serves as an online store, user experience matters. As such, it is vital that your pages be constructed with the experience of users in mind.

Besides all the factors we’ve mentioned above (bounce rates, page speed, user impressions, etc.), a good or bad experience impacts how often visitors perform desired actions. For example, businesses who deploy an online store but who do not embrace key tenets of web design and optimization will see fewer sales than those that do. Likewise, a non-profit or volunteer organization will sign up fewer people and generate fewer shares if their website is unconvincing or difficult to use.

Fortunately, there are solutions that can improve overall performance in specific areas. For example, format.com offers online store design solutions that ensure user experience is top-notch, products are properly marketed, and that the tenets of SEO are followed.

Marketing Efforts Are Impacted

Most brands understand the power of effective marketing and utilize it in a number of ways. From paid efforts via search engines and social media to organic marketing campaigns, this is one of the cornerstones of successful brand management and growth.

However, all too many fail to connect their web design with marketing efforts. Because of the impressions mentioned earlier that users can develop, marketing campaigns can be augmented – or harmed – by good or bad web design.

For example, consistent branding, logo usage, and ideal colour schemes all affect the potency of marketing. Without a web design that truly highlights your brand positively and conveys a subtle message of its own, marketing campaigns are bound to be less effective. This means that all the money and/or effort spent in reaching out to people could be weakened.

With more competition than ever, marketing strategies need to operate at peak efficiency to break through the competition’s noise. Without a solid web design and optimized website, this becomes increasingly difficult.

CMS Selection Affects All of the Above

Content management systems such as WordPress are the dominant platform through which websites are created. These platforms provide a range of possibilities and functions, depending on which one you select.

While WordPress is the most common CMS, it may not be the best solution for your website. Nevertheless, content management systems do not automatically come optimized. Through the use of tweaks and additional plug-ins, you can improve both the design and functionality of your brand’s website, ensuring it performs well in terms of marketing, SEO and user experience.

Be careful and deliberate when choosing a CMS: it isn’t easy to change platforms after you’ve already built your website.

These factors – and potentially many more – can all impact the functionality, perception and effectiveness of your website. Web design, while considered superficial in nature, has an influence over every key element of a brand’s online presence. Those who take care to ensure their websites are optimized in this arena will enjoy more long-term success.