Running a website requires some difficult decisions. In a virtual world where choice is abundant, the obstacles and challenges are also increased dramatically. In this case, we will be looking at a very common scenario webmasters face in addition to the hard choices that need to be made. This article will address the comparison between a pretty website and a workable website graphic design. Which one is more important and how does it affect the possibilities of evolving?
According to Wikipedia, graphic design is a manner of visual communication in addition to being a problem solving tool through tactical use of space, images and everything else that goes with it. A graphical designer is usually responsible for creating an atmosphere and establishes a unique brand, but depending on the purpose of the website, a designer can also keep things simple. Despite the fact that there are many more possibilities within graphical design when compared to traditional printing media, website graphic design also faces its share of limitations.
Keep in mind that a website doesn’t require paper and ink, but it does require several other elements. For example, Google goes through every bit of information from a site before displaying it on a search result page. The length of time people spend on the pages, the content, images and several other elements all play a part in where the site is going to end up in terms of ranking. But this is also where the limits of graphical design are reached. Once is a site is overwhelmed with graphical design aspects it is obviously going to slow down the loading speed, which ultimately leads to a very high bounce rate. For those who aren’t aware of how a bounce rate really works, just imagine a million people visiting a page or site, but they don’t even wait for the page to load completely before they return to the search engine. In other words, visitors don’t stay along enough. The loading time for a website has to be quick, otherwise it’s going to result in a high bounce rate scenario.
Now consider sites like Craigslist and Wikipedia. There is absolutely nothing fancy about the design and some people might even regard it as ugly website graphic design. However, these “ugly” sites are among the most popular in the world. Why? Because they utilize a workable web design that takes only seconds to load and makes the overall user experience very easy. You can even take a look at www.dmoz.org if you want, the same principles apply there. For sites like these it’s much more important to provide users with enriching content while using minimal graphical design tricks. Less is definitely more in cases like this. They enjoy high rankings and a lot of time spent by visitors.
When I talk about creating a website I like to refer to it as building with Lego blocks. If done correctly from the start then the only limitations you are going to encounter will be a lack of imagination. The correct platform is a crucial step towards building a solid website and I discuss this in more detail with my article entitled: Affordable Web Design and Best Web Platform. The platform has to be able to sustain every future step that is taken or changes that are made.
One of the most important places to start building is through content. Posting 10 articles on your website today might not attract the attention you are looking for, but making regular posts over time will slowly build into a solid traffic source. You need to regard the process as long-term, because this is exactly what is happening. Given enough time and work there is no question that it will turn into a front-line sales tool that will never let you down.
I’m not saying that you should avoid a creatively designed website, but I do recommend taking into consideration the purpose of the site. If it’s business orientated and you want people to subscribe, buy products or stay for long periods of time then it will only be in your best interest to keep it simple. This is a proven tactic, as can be seen by the above mentioned examples, that really speaks to making a choice between a pretty website with no visitors or a workable website graphic design that receives thousands of views.
Deciding on which web platform is best for your website graphic design comes down to a very simple element, it’s the platform that works the best according to your needs. Not that long ago I set out on finding the “perfect” platform so to speak, which led me to digging quite extensively into the world of web development. I tested several platforms on various levels, but mostly focused on their personal and business applications. The aim was to find one that would cover every necessary aspect, or at least most of them. I also took into consideration the price that came with the platform, because I’ve had the liberty of working with the most expensive graphic design software the world has to offer, but in the end it’s about making it affordable to the client.
What I Discovered
I spent a great deal of time doing various tests before making any concrete decisions. In other other words, after some very long nights, extensive experiments and research I’ve managed to settle on a web platform that did everything I consider necessary. Also known as content management systems (CMS), the three top contenders are respectively WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. From all the testing and research I have to say that WordPress is the best choice. I take nothing away from Drupal and Joomla, but WordPress has a great reputation for good reason.
To put this into perspective, let’s look at some statistics. Currently WordPress is the most popular CMS around with a market share of 60%. Keep in mind that there are more than 30 platforms available, so this is a relatively big number. Since 2007 WordPress users have increased with more than 4 billion and it’s the same platform used by giants such as CNN, GigaOM and TechCrunch. With more than 38,227 plugins and lightening quick installations, competing platforms have a long way to go before they can claim the same kind of success.
The Reasons Behind My Decision
Apart from the overwhelming reputation WordPress has created over the years, it’s overall interface is what makes it a real winner. Let’s start with the user friendly execution shall we? Once the basics of the website is in place then posting content becomes the easiest thing in the world. Even the plugin installation is easy, because it installs with just a few clicks. Whether you are accustomed to websites or whether you are just starting out, WordPress will meet your demands. You don’t need any knowledge of writing code or how to embed videos and images. In fact, it can be compared to administrating a Facebook page, because it’s that easy.
The second biggest reason is the regular updates. When a new version of WordPress is available it will notify you, along with everything else. For plugins and themes you will also receive notifications, but more importantly, WordPress stays up to date with the search engine trends. Many, if not all, the themes that are available come with mobile-friendliness, so you don’t need to worry about getting penalized.
Last but not least, WordPress is an open source. Yes, it’s absolutely free to use and there are no monthly payments that need to be made. Now taking into consideration that it makes the whole process very simple for clients, it doesn’t lack anything in terms of applications or power, it’s regularly updated and it doesn’t cost you anything, then it’s no wonder why most people prefer to use it. There are so many benefits to using WordPress that it would be difficult to list them all in this article. But to give you an idea of how easy WordPress works just check out this sweet video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsyO2JY4l_s
Is it Worth Looking at Other Platforms?
The great thing about CMS is that there are many different options, but they usually don’t come free. Even if you are willing to spend money on a web platform, it probably won’t live up to WordPress. With all the support and information that comes with the package it would be fruitless to search for anything else. Unless you are a master of coding and you are looking for something very specific, then I have no doubt that WordPress can handle everything you need it to. Whether it’s a basic blog or a high quality eCommerce site, WordPress can run it.
Much like everything else in the world, a website has many different components. However, for people who only go online to find something, study or to do some shopping, the work that goes into a website isn’t exactly general knowledge. A lot of things happen behind the scenes and there is some amount of maintenance that is required. For everyone who don’t know the internet lingo, but dearly want to understand web site components more clearly, just keep reading.
The Platform (Structure)
You’ve probably heard about the term, “building a website”, and it pretty much sums up what happens. There needs to be a platform on which the website can be built and it comes in the form of CMS (Content Management Systems). According to statistics, and my personal opinion, WordPress is the best. There are several good platforms out there, although my experience with WP remains consistently good. To put this into perspective, think about the platforms computers run on, for example Windows and Linux. Without them you won’t be able to do anything on the computer.
The Server (Host)
Now you need your website to “launch” so-to-speak, in other words, make it visible to other internet users. Unfortunately the platform only helps you to build the site, which means you have to use a host or server to actually get it online. You can think of it as one big computer that stays on 24 hours a day and its only purpose is to connect websites to the internet. Depending on the type of server you use, you get different benefits. But what is important is that your website has a server to run through, otherwise you won’t be getting any visitors. To run this site, I use HostGator.
Content is King (Articles, Photos, Videos)
It’s a crucial component to have content on your site that draws attention. You must remember that there are many website out there and they are all competing for a high page rank. Content is one of the keys to getting there. There used to be a time when only articles mattered, but search engines are giving more rope to sites that mostly feature videos or images. YouTube is a good example of this, but written content with keywords is still the best tool.
The owner of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has millions of people that literally write for free on his website and look where he is now. But apart from the necessity to get a good page ranking position, visitors need a reason to come to your site and this is where your product or content comes in. The more quality content you have the better your chances of reaching a bigger audience.
Web Design (Interface, Theme, Style)
Last but definitely not least, there is the web design component. It’s the first thing visitors notice when they visit the site and it greatly influences the possibilities for a webmaster. For starters, it has to be mobile friendly. Secondly, it has to be user friendly. In the online world there is no such thing as patience, because if a user is struggling to get to the next page or the design is just irritating then they are going to search for something else.
The design also says a lot about the quality of the site. Take note that there is a big difference between a dated or “cheesy” design and a design that might not look fantastic, but works perfectly. The reason I say this is because there are sites that simply try too hard. The loading time alone is frustrating and it usually ticks off the visitors. In many cases it’s better to keep the design basic, but functioning at a very high and effective speed. If you want more information on this then you are welcome to read my other article entitled, “Pretty Vs. Workable Website Design”.
So in conclusion, there is much more to a website than users think. These 4 components only lay the foundation for things to follow and without them the website is useless. I suggest paying close attention to all of them, but add a little more attention to the design. Given that it will be the deciding factor for most of the visitors that come to your site, make sure it works for the majority.