Web design is of the utmost important, but is often treated as an afterthought.
/ Image courtesy Muhammad Rafizeldi
Most startups understand that a strategic plan is an absolute necessity, but often this plan involves doing everything at once. Unfortunately, this means that cutting-edge web design may get assigned equal importance with everything else, when it can be the most important aspect of your business. Fortunately, a digital agency can make your startup's web design its top priority.
Your startup is like a living organism—it needs to receive fuel as well as expend energy in order to grow. And like organisms, startups have life-cycles. There are distinct stages in which growth happens, and these points require additional energy. If a startup wants to be part of the 25% of startups that succeed, it needs to devote resources where they’re needed at appropriate stages of growth. Optimal web design is not something ancillary, but a distinct stage of growth that requires time and resources.
Most startups aren’t web design firms, though they might make do with a few Photoshop-savvy staff members. Startups are endlessly told to stay lean, which many interpret to mean “do all your design in-house.” The desire to keep expenses low is admirable, but when applied to a startup’s website, it can be fatal.
Why Design Matters
Your company’s website is the first place of interaction with prospective customers, and there are high bars to clear for successful conversion. When a first-time visitor is on a new website, the adage “you only have one chance to make a first impression” is pumped-up on steroids.
The numbers are scary: 40% of visitors will leave a page that takes more than three seconds to load, and half will form a negative impression of a company after a single negative experience on their website. These figures are from 2009, before the mobile revolution and new developments in responsive web design, so if anything, the numbers have only increased. A study estimated that website issues accounted for US $1 billion in lost business in 2012. A lean startup is good, but if there’s one place a startup needs a digital agency, it’s for web design.
In-House vs. Digital Agency
Certain aspects of operating a startup can’t be contracted out. If it's your startup, you have to do your own networking in the funding environment you chose. When you interview prospective hires, you spare no means to find people with the best match of ability and personality. If you have to, you can solicit a recruiter or a talent agency—in fact, tech is currently experiencing a boom in industry-specific talent agencies. A startup doesn’t need to be told twice about the importance of hiring qualified people.
However, when it comes to optimal web design, a startup may fail to see the importance of this stage. In the startup life cycle, there is a beginning stage of discovery that provides the foundation for success. During this period, a startup is figuring out basic questions, selecting its team, and looking for financing. In the next stages, a startup is finding and retaining customers. At this point, there isn’t much room for error—customers expect lightning-fast loading times, responsive web design, and visual appeal whether they’re visiting the web page of a startup or a world-class retailer. Every startup is conscious of ROI, and customers cite "web-influences" as responsible for over a trillion dollars in business.
The Benefits of Hiring a Digital Agency
Even if the importance of web design seems obvious, there may still be reservations about why your startup needs a digital agency for web design. After all, if a startup has a working website, and it’s functioned well enough till the present, bringing in a digital agency might seem like a waste of resources.
1. Always Be on the Cutting Edge
However, web design is always changing, subject to new trends and technological innovation like everything else. Your site may have incorporated the latest features when it was first designed, but is it keeping up with the trends? A company whose website looked cutting-edge yesterday may find their pages relatively unresponsive today.
2. Look Great on Mobile
This scenario sounds extreme, but with the explosion in mobile usage, many companies have found themselves in this very situation. Mobile usage is going to match desktop usage in 2014, and this percentage will only increase. Companies who were not on top of the latest trends in web design lost that business, while those who anticipated industry shifts reaped the rewards.
Companies have to stay on top of the latest trends. Those who anticipate responsive design have reaped the rewards.
3. Grab Trends by the Horns
Beyond the mobile revolution, there are numerous innovations and trends in web design that your startup has to keep in mind. It’s a lot to keep track of to attract, captivate, and convert prospective customers. Fortunately, an outside digital agency is focused on staying atop the latest trends in web design. While your startup has to balance its web presence with all the other aspects of its operation, this is the sole focus of a digital agency. In fact, there are dozens of jobs which a startup can hire from outside, and a good digital agency can fulfill many of these.
A startup has a lot to keep track of, so it's often hard to know what to prioritize. Consequently, web design often becomes merely one more aspect of operations that can fall by the wayside. A startup’s webpage, though, is its most important public face. A startup needs a digital agency for web design because a good digital agency is solely focused on creating the kind of design and compatibility that creates leads and conversions. We know how to get your site looking as good as it could. Ask yourself if your website is on top of the latest design trends, and make the best web design a priority for your startup.