Hi, I'm Tyler Willis and I've been helping businesses optimize their digital marketing and web development efforts for over 10 years. I excel at teaching and helping companies understand complex digital solutions, and applying them to their businesses.
Yeah, I said it. I think that the design of a website is overrated.
At ZeroToDigital, we spend a lot of time crawling and browsing the websites for businesses located and headquartered in New Hampshire for our Business Ranking tool. During this process, we quickly review the site and capture information such as visitor statistics.
One thing that we've identified to be true time-and-time again, is that a modern, professionally-designed website often does NOT receive more traffic than a site that obviously hasn't been redesigned for 10+ years.
You could compare 2 sites - one that looks outdated with one that was redesigned by a large design agency last year - and not know which one actually performs better in terms of traffic just by looking at them.
So, what does that tell you about the design of a website?
Does it matter? Sure.
Is it overrated? Absolutely.
Website design takes up too much valuable time
Based on both personal experience and conversations with clients, I know how much time can be sucked into modifying and tweaking the design of a website.
- "Can we make that text blue?"
- "That button just doesn't look right to me."
- "What if we made these images a little taller?"
- "If we add this particular outline then the component will really pop!"
If these questions were considered as part of a well-defined A/B testing plan, then it would 100% be worthwhile to ask them, tweak and analyze.
But 99% of the time, that's not the case. And I'm as guilty as anyone. I like to make tweaks here and there until everything is nearly perfect.
Each of those (and some that I missed) are arguably more important than design, but they're not typically given a fraction of the same time and attention as design.
Website design is not as important as content
The design of a website doesn't carry the same potential for user acquisition, lead generation and search engine optimization as content does.
Sure, an absolutely terrible design could make it extremely difficult or impossible to read and digest webpage content, but there aren't many websites in existence that would fit that bill.
Users are looking for information. Sure, a pretty website might improve the experience, but if the information isn't there (or lacking), then the user will leave the pretty website and not return.
But if the content is there, then the user will stay, keep reading and maybe take the next step to becoming your customer.
Search engine crawlers don't recognize design - at all. They're incapable! They're simply interested in content that they can crawl, index in their databases and return to users submitting queries on their search engines.
So, spending more time on design than content negatively impacts leads, sales and SEO.
Website design is not as important as page organization
The design isn't even as important as how your website (and pages) are structured - like sales funnels.
How does the user sign up, or complete a purchase? And what steps are required to get to that point or page?
Does the navigation make sense? Are internal links present on the page, easy to identify and pointing to the next logical page to move the user to the next step of the conversion process?
Where website design IS important
I don't hate website design. In fact, we at ZeroToDigital offer it to our clients (along with a website development-type project). There are certainly times when design needs to be considered and is important. For example:
- Branding: it's important to be consistent with the colors and imagery that you use for your business, online and off.
- Simplicity: your website should be easy to browse and navigate, and the design should optimize that, not get in the way.
- Modern: an out-of-date design can rub some visitors the wrong way - causing them to wonder what level of quality you put into your products or services or even if you're still in business.
- Mobile-friendly: like simplicity above, your design should work well with devices of all sizes for the benefit of your users.
Yes, website design IS important, just not important enough to take your time away from other valuable exercises important to the growth of your business.