9 web design elements you can’t do without in 2020

“Fast, cheap, and good…pick two.”

Have you ever heard that quote? It goes on to say,

“If it’s fast and cheap it won’t be good. If it’s cheap and good, it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and good, it won’t be cheap.”

A fast, cheap, and good website is a unicorn; a mythical creature that exists only in fantasies.

Our agency has been operating for 15 years and several of our employees have been around for far longer than that. We’ve seen and created it all, from the most rudimentary, earliest websites to today’s most complex solutions. So we say with certainty that a fast, cheap, and good website is a unicorn; a mythical creature that exists only in fantasies.

We’ve seen time and again that an effective website design can be an incredibly positive investment in the growth of your business. We have also seen how a poorly designed website will do more to drive people away than pull them in, costing your business in the short-term and adding additional investment to try to fix the problematic design.

The cheap and fast route almost never turns out to be cheap nor fast.

How much does it cost to build a good website?

The difference between a $5k website and a $50k website is not $45k.

There is a significant difference between building a website for $5,000 and a website design that you invest $50,000 in. Many inexpensive website designs may look beautiful on the outside, but they’ll have a poorly written code and defective functionality followed by a long list of symptoms. You will be excited when the site is first completed but quickly realize that you are operating with your hands tied behind your back as your site fails to provide the desired results and becomes increasingly difficult to manage.

How do you make sure that your new website is designed to be an asset for your business instead of a liability? 

  • How can you know what to look for when searching for the right kind of web designer
  • What do you really need to make your website solid?
  • What can you afford to skip and where should you be cautious about cutting corners?

We want to use our expertise to help you build a solid list of criteria so you can ensure your end result is a website that you can be proud of. A website that is not only pleasing to the eye but a fantastic overall experience for your users as well.

Things commonly skipped when building an inexpensive website

If you want to be assured that your website design is worth the investment, then make sure not to neglect these nine critical qualities of an effective website:

Don't Over-Engineer Your Website Design

Don’t Over-Engineer Your Website Design

A well designed website will help you achieve an elegant solution for your current needs while also providing you the infrastructure to support your future goals, all without adding a bunch of unnecessary bloat.  To quote our founder, “Over-engineering is a form of technical debt.  It’s just as bad as writing bad code. It gets in the way of delivering the thing that our client asked for.” 

Over-engineering is a form of technical debt. It’s just as bad as writing bad code. It gets in the way of delivering the thing that our client asked for.

You don’t want a site that is anemic either, lacking the necessary features and functions to operate at its peak. Experienced web designers will have the ability to whittle down your website’s design to only what you want and nothing more. Typically this requires a greater level of communication between designers and developers during the planning phases of your project.

Why Right-Sized Project Scope is Important

  • Inaccurate considerations for your current and future needs will result in a site that is unable to perform at the appropriate level and can stunt your growth
  • Too many extra things will cause your project budget and timelines to be bloated and result in a site that performs poorly
Optimized Site Structure

Optimized Site Structure

One of the most critical and also most commonly missed things, even amongst some of the top web designers, is an optimized site structure.

Site structure is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) concept that addresses how the website content is structured within your site, how your URLs are structured, etc…. A well-designed site structure will confirm that your site is readable by both your target audience as well as search engines.

Most web designers and developers have not been trained in SEO. Although over the past decade there has been an increasing awareness amongst web designers of the importance of SEO, there is still a large gap in knowledge as to how their work can have an impact on SEO.

Why Site Structure is Important

  • Optimized site structure is the foundation to a technically sound website.
  • It makes sure your website is readable by humans and search engines.
  • Your website’s structure has a massive impact on its overall performance, including paying a major role in the site’s ability to rank in search results.
  • An improper site structure can severely limit the effectiveness of other optimizations you make to your site, such as your content, design aesthetic, on-page SEO, digital advertising placement, etc…
High Quality, Relevant Content

High Quality, Relevant Content

A website, or any application for that matter, should not be designed around pretty shapes and colors, personal style preference, or the opinions of your internal team. Your website’s design should be driven by the content it needs to hold.  What purpose will a beautiful website serve if it lacks important information your users are looking for?

Researched, written, reviewed and edited – your content should be written by subject matter experts, structured in verticles that compliment your buyer’s journey, and presented to the user through workflows you can monitor and track.

Why High Quality, Relevant Content is important:

  • Great content builds your SEO. Quality content and SEO are inseparable in today’s digital landscape. Without good SEO, no one will know about your business and what you do.
  • Strong content inspires confidence in your users that you possess a deep understanding of the subject at hand and are therefore worth paying attention to.
  • Your content, when written with clear, concise and cohesive messaging, provides users with details to help them make an informed purchasing decision.
  • Quality, relevant content, smoothly guides users through their buyer’s journey while instilling loyalty and trust in your brand.
Mobile Responsiveness

Mobile Responsiveness or Mobile Friendly accommodations (for B2C and B2B)

With more than half of all web traffic and organic searches coming from mobile phones today, your website needs to work on multiple screen sizes – even if you don’t think users are looking at it from all of those screens.

Don’t skip the mobile mockups, and certainly don’t skip the development time to implement mobile-friendly best practices.  You might even consider a mobile app as well. Could your specific use case benefit from the native functionality phones and tablets can offer?

Mobile Responsive Website Design is Important for B2B and B2C

You may be thinking that this point only applies to B2C companies, that no doubt draw in large amounts of mobile traffic, but is mobile responsiveness really that important for B2B companies?

It’s true that on average, B2B companies are likely to receive between 20% and 40% of their traffic from mobile users and that mobile traffic for B2B companies tends to result in fewer conversions than desktop traffic.

Don’t be too quick to write off the importance of mobile responsive web design for a B2B company.  One critical note to make, though, is that many times, B2B buyers will have a mixed-device buyer’s journey, beginning their research on a mobile device and completing on a desktop.

This means that the 20-40% of traffic coming to your site from a mobile device could actually be an opportunity to make a positive first impression and to inspire first-time visitors to return to complete their research by visiting your site again from their desktop.

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Not optimizing your site for mobile could mean that you are losing opportunities and driving potential customers to your competitor’s mobile-friendly site.

729 Infographic Mobile Traffic

According to the latest data, in 2019, 52.2 percent of all web traffic came from mobile phones (this does not include tablets or other mobile traffic) and 59 percent of organic search traffic came from mobile devices. Source: Mobile Vs. Desktop Usage (Latest 2020 Data), broadbandsearch.net

Mobile Responsive Website Design is Important for SEO

Secondary to your users’ experiences with your site, but still greatly important, is that Google rewards sites that are mobile friendly. Google’s mission is to help users find the answers to their queries as quickly as possible, which means providing search results that are relevant to the intended search and that help the user easily find what they are looking for.

Due to the fact that the majority of Google’s traffic has been coming from mobile devices in steadily increasing volumes over the past several years, they recently introduced a mobile-first indexing initiative to reward websites that make mobile their priority by giving them priority in search engine rankings over those that do not.

Why Mobile Optimization is important:

  • Mobile optimization means higher search rankings, which means greater traffic potential.
  • Not optimizing your website for mobile means leaving money on the table.
  • Not optimizing your website for mobile also means you are potentially driving potential customers to your competitors.

Want to know even more about responsive websites? You’ll want to check out our recently updated article all about responsive web design.

Images, Graphics and Visuals

Relevant, High Resolution Images, Graphics and Videos

You don’t have to include all of these things, but when you do, make them striking! Crisp, high resolution assets that are optimized for the web can make an enormous difference on the overall look and feel of your site, not to mention its performance.

We recommend having a professional photographer who knows how to shoot for the web take customized photos, or at the very least, spend the money on nice stock photos.  Then, don’t forget to have your designer compress the images so you preserve clarity and avoid pixelation.

If you really want to make sure your site operates at optimal levels, you’ll get your SEO professional involved in the preparation of your photos BEFORE uploading them to your site. This actually takes us back to our first point about site structure, which can even impact how images are displayed and behave throughout your website.

There are loads of commonly missed opportunities along with detrimental effects that are difficult to correct post launch when it comes to your site’s creative assets.

Why images are important:

  • No one wants to read wall after wall of text.
  • Some users are more visual and will grasp concepts better with a graphic or image to go along with the text.
  • Visual assets help confirm the users understanding of the text as well.
  • Images, graphics and videos are often the biggest culprits in poor site health, which has a domino effect on your site’s overall performance, starting with killing the user experience and ending with a loss in your online presence.
Ease of Use

Ease of Use for your users, and for you!

What’s the point of having a website if no one is able to use it!  First and foremost, we want your users to be able to navigate your site, find what they need, and accomplish tasks without roadblocks.  Secondly – we want the website to be easy for you to maintain – if you so choose.  A good web consultant will spend time planning for these things.

Why UX and ease of use is important:

  • If users have a poor experience using your site, they’ll likely abandon ship and seek out your competitors instead.
  • If your website is difficult for you to update and maintain, then you won’t do it! An up to date website is key for staying relevant and competitive in your industry.
Intentional UI Design

An intentional UI Design

People often skip the creation of mockups for their website and go straight to the build.  You could do this mildly successfully, but who wants their website to look like the competitor?  Not you!

Why mockups and good UI Design is important:

  • Starting with mockups (or even low-fidelity wireframes) helps to ensure everyone is on the same page as to what the site should look like, and that it honors the constraints of your brand – visually and otherwise.
  • Mockups help to eliminate overbuilding in the development stage -which can save you money.
  • Good UI ensures a smooth and intuitive user experience.
Page Speed

Page Speed

Page speed is such a critical step to address in your website build but is often overlooked because it’s nearly ‘invisible’ to some of us.  If you have a newer laptop and a solid internet connection, chances are, your website will load those large images and minified scripts with no problem.  But if you’re one of the XXX people out there with hindered hardware and internet connection, PageSpeed could be the reason they abandon their shopping cart and visit your competitor.

  • 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

Want more stats?

So as you work to make your site stand out with extra content and unique functionality, make sure you’re not sacrificing your page load time. If the page won’t load fast enough, nearly half of users won’t stick around long enough to ever see it.

Why it’s important that your website is fast!

  • Not all users have the hardware and internet bandwidth to support slow load times.
  • Most users are impatient.
  • Google drops your ranking if your pagespeed is dragging your SEO down.

Want more stats?

So as you work to make your site stand out with extra content and unique functionality, make sure you’re not sacrificing your page load time. If the page won’t load fast enough, nearly half of users won’t stick around long enough to ever see it.

Why it’s important that your website is fast!

  • Not all users have the hardware and internet bandwidth to support slow load times.
  • Most users are impatient.
  • Google drops your ranking if your pagespeed is dragging your SEO down.
The “s” in “HTTPS” and other Security Protocol

The “s” in “HTTPS” and other Security Protocol

Something we see clients undervalue the importance of is security on their website.  This step is last in our list, but probably the most important!  Outside of gaining an SSL certificate, there are several regulations out there like CCPA and GDPR that you need to ensure you’re following.

Beyond the credibility your site will gain, the primary reason why SSL is used is to protect sensitive data transmitted from and to your website, such as login details, signups, addresses and payment or personal information. Additionally, having an SSL certificate installed can provide a boost in SEO rankings as it brings your site in alignment with Google’s HTTPS Everywhere initiative.


Why website security is important:

  • Users want to know you’re not selling their information to third parties
  • Your SEO is hindered if your website is insecure
  • You want to ensure your company is following regulations

In Conclusion

So, can you have a quick website spun up for $5k? Sure! But your web designer won’t be providing you the due diligence as a trusted consultant to do so and you’re going to miss one or likely several, if not all, of the elements in this list.  A cheap, fast website isn’t going to have the research and thought put into it that it needs in order to be an asset to your business.

A high-quality website will work for you – helping users to find you without any extra effort, and to guide your users through their buyer’s journey in a natural way.  In addition, a high-quality website is going to provide an elegant design with an intuitive user experience that’s catered to your specific user persona’s needs.

UI/UX consultants will take the time to get to know you, your business, your clients, and understand how they think.  But all of this requires a bit of research, some critical thinking, and time – which as you know, translates to money.

As with most any investment in your business, we know that it’s natural to seek out the least expensive and most efficient approach, without sacrificing quality. This is a difficult balance to strike, especially when you still have to convince your leadership of what you believe to be the best option after all of your research. And remember:

“Fast, cheap and good … pick just two words to live by.”

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About 729 Solutions

729 is a team of hard-working designers, developers, project managers, and solutions architects. We are problem solvers who come up with new ways to make technology faster, safer, and easier. We are builders who create experiences and products that people love. We integrate complex systems in the simplest ways possible. We help fast-growing companies and their customers do more.

We’ve been engineering amazing technology for 15 years and we want to do it for you.

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