design choices that can make or break your siteDeciding to hire a professional designer for your website project is a big step, and a tough one to take. It will double your initial outlay. And you will lose some creative freedom you had when going it alone.

But those negatives are easily overcome by the designing a website from scratch is really hard and really time-consuming. There is real code to deal with. Some of your choices will affect security and search engine compliance. It is not just a matter of choosing fonts, colors, and images. There are real consequences for getting it wrong. So mind these things to make sure you get it right:

A Website the Truly Reflects Your Business

One South Carolina website design company makes it a point to highlight the importance of designing for the business as opposed to designing generic templates. Designing for the business includes:

  • Reviewing business goals and needs
  • Reviewing past ad accounts and analytics to understand key wins and losses
  • Designing a website representative of your brand and website KPIs
  • A/B Test new opportunities on a daily basis

Do you even know what your website KPIs are? Do you have a plan for frequent A/B testing? These are not minor considerations. Even if you have the coding skills for designing your website, you may not have the necessary time it takes to stay on top of it. Web design is not a one and done affair.

This is why in most cases, it is best to bring in a professional. Not only can they take the time to get it right initially, but they can keep it up-to-date on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, you will be able to hold them accountable for problems that arise.

The Right Design for Your Industry Needs

Not every design is conducive to ecommerce. Some are a better match for fashion and entertainment. When you are hiring an expert, be sure to hire one who is knowledgeable about your particular industry.

A site where business is conducted should look like it means business. Many consumers are already skittish about doing business online. They are not wrong to judge your site by its cover. They need to clearly see your business name and logo. At no point should they wonder if they clicked on the wrong site.

They need to be clear about where and how to log in. They need to be made secure before being asked to do anything else on the site. Once logged in, there needs to be a clear path for them to follow. A cluttered front page full of text and options is visually confusing, and mentally overwhelming. Make sure there are plenty of visual cues that make it clear what the visitor should do next.

Payment pages should be reassuring and familiar. The customer wants to see Visa and MC logos. Apple Pay and PayPal are also acceptable. These are comforting brands that make people feel confident they are conducting a safe transaction just like any other transaction they are used to.

Every industry is different. And if your are going to do business online, you need a site that reflects the distinctives of your industry. Cookie-cutter designs simply won’t do.

Secure by Design

Good website security is never by accident. It is always by design. Here is an example of an SQL injection attack:

"SELECT FROM table WHERE column = '" + parameter + "';"

If an attacker changed the URL parameter to pass in ‘ or ‘1’=’1 this will cause the query to look like this:

"SELECT FROM table WHERE column = '' OR '1'='1';"

Here is how to fix it:

$stmt = $pdo->prepare('SELECT FROM table WHERE column = :value');

$stmt->execute(array('value' => $parameter))

The key to avoiding this problem in the first place is using parameterised queries. Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks are even nastier. The point is that when designing your site, these technical details must be a part of the consideration. Design is more than skin deep.

If you choose to go it on your own, be sure you customize your design for your particular business. Choose designs appropriate for your industry. And bake security into the design process.