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Internet Users are Placing More Weight on Web Design

By Rick Sloboda |

The demand for good web design is increasing, revealed a recent Webcopyplus online poll. Almost 25% of web users indicated "poor visual presentation" as the number one element that drives them away from websites.

Only 6.6% of web users who participated in a similar 2007 online poll indicated 'poor visual presentation" as the main reason to abandon a website. That equates to a 267% increase during the two-year period.

Our web content specialists believe the increased desire for quality design comes from the fact that Internet users have become increasingly sophisticated. Consequently, more of today's Internet users understand that a well designed website makes it possible to achieve more, with less time and effort.

A total of 318 web users were asked what's most likely to drive them away from a website.

  • 50.9% indicated "slow load times"
  • 24.8% noted "weak web copy"
  • 24.2% specified "poor visual presentation"

In the 2007 poll, 51.2% of 258 participants indicated "slow load times" and 42.2% noted "weak web copy" as their biggest turn-offs.

True Beauty Comes From Within

Informed web designers and business owners alike know that design is vital to a successful website, and its beauty must go far beyond looks. While design needs to support a company's brand positioning, it must also effectively inform, communicate and provide positive experiences.

A winning website is one that delivers useful, relevant content that allows people to accomplish their goals quickly and easily. In today's hectic society, that's what makes a great and lasting impression on the Web.

Good design achieves simplicity through a range of elements - from a single point of focus to intuitive information flow to plain, familiar menu names. And as more people flock to the Web for everything from casual encounters to green homes, more businesses will likely lean on web specialists who can contribute to effective design.

Web professionals who specialize in select services, technologies and industries will increasingly thrive with higher tier clients and get paid accordingly. In contrast, jack-of-all-trade web types can't keep up with every emerging tactic and tool, and they'll eventually only appeal to and serve clients who are purely price-driven. These clients generally don't value expertise, nor are they willing to pay for it.

Additionally, web professionals will benefit from the fact that businesses are pushing more of their marketing dollars online - even those businesses that have been hesitant to shift from traditional media such as TV, radio and newsprint.

Moving marketing online makes more sense than ever. Something's off when typical consumers might spend 25% of their media time on the Web and a company is investing only 5% or so of its marketing budgets on websites and other online promotions.

With almost 75% of global consumers using the Web frequently (Internet World Stats), a $10,000 investment in a website will get almost any business a better return on investment than an ad in a newspaper, magazine or print telephone directory. A website can provide greater reach and superior exposure, and it works for a business 24/7 for multiple years.

Web Copy Carries Punch

With 24.8% of web poll participants indicating weak web copy would most likely prompt them to abandon a website, businesses should continue to take their web writing seriously.

While there appears to be increasing awareness surrounding web writing in general, many businesses continue to fail to recognize what a professional web writer can bring to a website and a business's bottom line.

Web writers, website content writers, SEO copy writers - call them what you will - these web copy specialists are often not even being considered a part of the equation when it comes to building or overhauling a website.

A well-versed web writer can help a business with everything from attaining traffic via search engines, to differentiating a business from competitors and conveying key benefits effectively, to achieving higher conversion rates.

Fortunately, as of late, there are more web-related organizations and schools introducing copywriting courses specifically for the Web, which promises to increase the supply and qualifications of web writers, particularly in the United States and Canada.

An increase in writers who specialize in the Web will help decrease the ineffective, error-laden, self-centered copy that is so common on the Web.

Need for Speed

More than 50% of poll participants noted that getting their information promptly on the Web is a top concern. Make them wait, and they are likely to hit a competitor's site.

Good web designers and developers respond by optimizing images, streamlining HTML and avoiding dated gimmicks like Flash intros. But some designers and business owners alike continue to fall into such traps.

A designer recently told me about an architecture company that just spent tens of thousands of dollars on a Flash intro. Unfortunately, web designers and business owners sometimes let their egos get in the way. They fail to acknowledge that when a prospect visits a website looking for information or to complete a task, that Flash intro will only get in the way, and potentially frustrate visitors.

Flash intros were tolerated in the '90s when the Web was a novelty. People were excited about this new thing called the World Wide Web, and we spent countless hours surfing it. Today, however, most people want to get information and complete tasks in as little time and with as few clicks as possible, so they can get on with their busy lives.

Give Users What They Want

Internet professionals would better serve Internet users by collaborating and delivering simple, fast, useful and convenient websites.

Give Internet users what they want and everyone wins: web users benefit from ease of use and efficiency; businesses enjoy increased leads and sales; and the web professionals maximize income and fill their portfolios with winning websites.

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