What goes into designing and developing quality websites in 2018

The internet has been in existence for a relatively short period of time, many of us being able to remember that strange world pre internet! - how did we ever get stuff done without google at our fingertips?!

Born 45 years ago was the workings of the internet, but it was only 25 years ago in 1990 when it took on the form we all know today in the shape of the World Wide Web, a.k.a - the net, the internet, online, the tinterweb, and it always make me chuckle to have an acronym that's longer than the words itself! WWW... sorry we digress!

Getting back on topic - considering the web is only 25 years old, there is an astonishing amount of content flying around with an estimate of over 1 billion websites as of 2014. With that number in mind it's inevitable that there is going to be sites out there that don’t come up to scratch for today's user - mainly because the user of today has taken on a completely different form to the surfer of 10, 15 or even 20 years ago. Design, layout and functionality has all changed due to user interactions and not to mention the devices that are now available along with a shift in today’s user needs. Saying that, there is the other element to contend with which is today - the web is a place that is opened to any Tom, Dick and Harry to create a website, regardless of its content, form, structure or purpose. All of which are adding to the noise of bad websites across the web.

So going back to why we started writing this blog - how do we design and develop good quality websites today?

As boring and as far removed from being creative as we can possibly get we are going to touch on Process - yes I said the word and I know I have already lost some of you but stick with me….. I am going somewhere with this…

Before we can get into the fun part of looking at the aesthetics of a site, we have to focus on the foundations to building a site as they have become more important than ever before. I am sure you have heard some terms being thrown around like Content is King, SEO and UX Design - ‘A goal with no plan is a wish’… Getting the groundwork's for your website set-up correctly really is the key to your website being successful or not. We know it’s not glamorous but it is essential! They all support one another with the content dictating to your SEO which allows your site to be searchable and highly ranked in google, to your UX design keeping your visitors engaged and interested. Persona development, user research and content audits all assess what you have and what you are missing - seems boring and mundane but take my word for it, doing the leg work at the beginning will deliver the results in the end, and remember Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Focusing on the design...

I picked up on it lightly above but the attention on how sites are designed and built has changed massively in the past decade and continues to do so. Focus has shifted from design and aesthetics to form and function. It’s about tapping into the conscious of your user, building empathy for their problems and creating a site with targeted UX that aligns the goals of both User and Business. That is the real test for any modern day site to align the goals so the business benefits when the user reaches their goals. Get that right and you are on your way to building a winning site.

This way of thinking has been around for a while now and while it isn’t particularly groundbreaking - it’s common sense thinking - but you might be amazed at how many digital agencies are building online eye candy without any substance.

Devices and choice of, have all become a larger part of the building online presence than ever before. The sheer amount of devices that have become available even in the past 10 years as ways to access the internet is astounding. As mobile adoption rates continue to rise we have always made it a priority to think ‘Mobile First’ many of our clients now see mobile usage of over 65% of their audiences, some sectors peaking at 80%. Mobile limitations are pretty scarce these days from online banking, house hunting, shopping to even dating and booking holidays, mobile adoption has become the norm. This just proves how fast the user is evolving, thankfully non-responsive websites are now in the minority, but the next consideration for your site is, are they working and converting at a rate that will help you build your business? No matter what sector you are in your website should be working for you and developing that relationship with your potential customers, capturing data (GDPR is for another day), and feeding them down your sales funnel.

You have the data tracking from Google Analytics and tools like HotJar to track individual user journeys, so if you’re not constantly tweaking and improving your site based on this data, why not? To stay relevant your site needs constant review and improvement to make sure it’s holding its own in today’s digital world that is constantly evolving. Consider your website as a living breathing thing that needs care, attention, tweaking and changing on a regular basis and you will give yourself the best chance at winning online!