The Importance of a Well Designed Website

In today’s modern world, any information can be found by looking it up on the internet. Due to its accessibility and vast usage, the online market has grown dramatically. Companies have caught on to its potential and practically almost every business has their own website. Whether it’s to sell a product or provide information the main purpose for a website is to serve the visitor. This is where design plays a crucial roll in creating intuitive and attractive websites to fulfill that purpose. We’ve all seen well designed websites like Facebook, Amazon and Reddit which receive vast amounts of traffic, (for good reason!) but before we can talk about good design, we first need to delve into what bad design looks like.

Bad Design

Consider a webpage, at a basic level it is a page that stores information. If this information is disorganized, structured poorly or flat out does not look good, then this can have various effects on the visitor’s impression. For this example I want to point out a case I read about. The owner of an electronics repair company called Rossmann Repair Group hired a developer company to redesign his old website because he believed his current site had looked outdated. Two months into development, the developer sent these webpages for review.
The edits on these photos are from the client. You can tell he’s quite unsatisfied and for reasons that you probably noticed at first glance. The website looks terrible. Margins are not consistent, there is no theme or structure, and worst of all “Main it in” should say “Mail it in”. There is even a section at the bottom of one page where there is an empty broken form. Arriving at a website like this, what are your first thoughts? You probably would be unimpressed or lost which would be followed by a complete loss in trust for the company this page is representing. You would think the company is unprofessional, leave the site within a minute and move on with your life. Most popular websites are well designed and are eye-pleasing to visitors but websites like these do still exist and there’s a reason why they don’t rank high on google.
The circumstances of this story are not important to this post but if you would like to read more about it here’s the link to the original post.
Now that we understand what bad UI looks like, let’s understand the basics of good UI.

Arrangement of Information

Referring back to my earlier statement, a webpage simply stores information for the viewer to see. It is important that information is arranged neatly, has correct grammar and is organized by importance. This means the most important info should be prioritized at the top or where the visitor can see it clearly. This is why you see sales promotions and events as soon as you visit sites like bestbuy.ca and walmart.ca. They also make these sections eye catching, stylized and full of images to get you to check out their products and deals. Information that is complimentary are typically placed further down the page for users who have already been hooked to the website at first glance.

Navigation

Have you ever googled a restaurant to search for the menu, or check working hours only to end up scanning the whole website for the small bit of info you are looking for? This can leave potential customers frustrated, which is why intuitive navigation is crucial for satisfying your visitors. Any bit of info that a visitor may need to know should be easily accessible and intuitive. By intuitive I mean they should be able to effortlessly navigate to the right webpage or section without being instructed. Make sure the navigation bar is simple and labelled appropriately. Your website shouldn’t be a chore to use because people won’t offer you their time so easily.

Theme and Look

The theme is the look and feel of the website which plays a big roll in attracting visitors. It represents your website and gives it branding. The first example I showed lacked consistency in look through the bizarre spacing and inconsistent margins. You also want to make sure everything is working on your website; this means no broken sections. Adding images, keeping blocks of text separated and restricting your site to a short palette of colors are great for achieving a consistent and informative look to your webpage. Even adding fancy animations can make your website attractive.

What I mentioned above are very broad elements of a well designed website and each can be elaborated at a much deeper level. There are definitely more elements to go over but I just wanted to present what I consider are most important.

Benefits of a Well Designed Website

There are many benefits when you focus on great design. One of the most obvious benefits is a decrease in bounce rate. This means customers won’t leave your website and will actually navigate it, giving you an opportunity to sell your product, service or to simply present information. There is no point in getting more people to visit your website if they don’t stay and explore what you have to offer.
Another is trust. Having a well organized, easy-to-use website will gain the visitor’s trust in your company or branding because they will understand that you care and know what you’re doing. What’s not so obvious that contributes to trust is the look and theme of the website. Small color accents, animations or creative pictures may seem small or redundant, but they add up and give personality, making your site interesting. People are more likely to trust something that interests them.
The reason why trust is important is because it builds a sense of credibility in your company or brand. All these factors contribute to giving your visitor a great experience and allows you to better communicate your ideas to them. I said earlier that the purpose of a website is to serve the visitor. If the visitor is served well, then they can become potential customers, clients, followers, users or whatever your goal you initially felt a website was necessary for.
 

Our Three Core Principles

harpLabs is built on three core principles:
  • Our customer's vision: We aim to understand our customer's business, mission, and rationale so the products we create perfectly suit their vision.
  • The latest technology: We strive to employ the latest available technology so that your products are as advanced as can be.
  • Rapid production: Our goal is to launch products fast to the market so our customers can be the early birds of their industry.

An app for your business? Here’s why you need one.


Five years ago a small insurance broker in Calgary, Alberta called Sharp Insurance contacted us to build an app for their clients. It was at a time when most, if not all, insurance brokers relied solely on phone support and postage. President Sherif Gemayel was forward thinking enough to recognize the value an app would be to his customers and, in turn, to his business. Fast forward a few years and Sharp Insurance gets recognized as one of the fastest growing brokerages in Canada.

Nowadays, more and more businesses have started to develop apps for their clients. This is because people have started to understand that effective mobile strategy is not only about having a mobile-friendly website.

Today, you will find various small businesses you interact with regularly that have their own mobile apps.

If you don’t have a mobile app for your business yet or don’t fully understand the importance of having one, listed below are a few reasons which can help you realize why your brand might be in need of one!


1) An app helps you improve customer engagement

Regardless of the products you are selling or the services you are providing, customers need to have a platform through which they can reach out to you. By integrating a help desk or messaging feature within the app, you can make communication easier.

People prefer to get in touch via text instead of via call, even when dealing with businesses, which is why having an app is important.


2) You get a direct channel for marketing

An app for your business has numerous functions. It can provide the customer with general information, help with booking forms, prices, search features, and a lot more. But perhaps, the greatest advantage of having an app is that you can provide the customers with all relevant information, including promotions and special sales, easily and conveniently.  You have a consistent medium of advertising your business right to your clients.

Additionally, with the push notification feature, you are one step closer to having a direct interaction with your target audience.


3) Providing value becomes easier

With a mobile app, you can digitalize the loyalty program you have, if any. You can move forward from the old point collection card program and make it possible for customers to redeem their rewards through the mobile application. As a result, you can get more return customers and more downloads due to overall convenience.


4) You can build your brand and get recognition

Having a mobile application can work wonders for your brand awareness. A mobile application is more like a blank canvas, and you have the freedom of doing whatever you want with it. For example, you can make the app hip and stylish, or you can also make it informative and functional depending on your target audience

However, your aim should be to create an app that is filled with features the customers love. Meanwhile, the app also needs to be beautifully designed and easy to navigate. The more involved the customers are with the said application, the quicker they will turn to your services and products.


5) It can help cultivate customer loyalty

This is the most crucial benefit of all. Having a mobile app encourages exceptional customer loyalty. Advertising has taken a lot of forms, and it is constantly present around us in the shape of emails, Facebook ads, website banners, websites, coupons, flyers, newspaper ads, flashing signs, billboards, and roadside banners, etc.

For a lot of businesses, spending a lot of cash on advertisements isn’t a viable option. Instead, a useful strategy is to focus more on creating a strong connection with customers through an app and making them loyal to your services or products.


6) Your customers constantly glance at your business

According to statistics, an average American spends at least two hours daily on a smartphone. Of course, in the two hours, a person uses only a few applications; however, the user still has to unlock the mobile, scroll through the device, and scan the screen to locate the app they want to use. This ‘time-to-search-for-an-app-to-use’ is what businesses want to make use of.

When your app is also present on their device’s screen, it’ll still be subconsciously stored in a person’s mind. Having a well-designed app icon is more than enough to make people remember your business if they’re in need of something you can offer.

Furthermore, they might even decide to open the app to see if there’s any new development concerning your business they should know about.


7) You can make yourself stand out amongst the competitors

With a well-designed app you can easily stand out from your competitors and create a stronger bond with your target audience.


Developing the Best App for Your Business

If you want an innovative and interactive app for your business across all platforms, harpLabs has a professional team that can deliver. From the layout, features and User Interface, harpLabs has a team you can count on to create an app that can help you connect with your target audience.  Get a free estimate now by filling in this form.

 

Our Three Core Principles

harpLabs is built on three core principles:
  • Our customer's vision: We aim to understand our customer's business, mission, and rationale so the products we create perfectly suit their vision.
  • The latest technology: We strive to employ the latest available technology so that your products are as advanced as can be.
  • Rapid production: Our goal is to launch products fast to the market so our customers can be the early birds of their industry.

Mobile App vs. Website


Short Answer

Build a mobile application if you expect each user to make frequent use of your service, if you require offline usage, if you’re providing more than just information, and/or if your budget is high.

Table of Contents

  1. Mobile Features
  2. Offline Use
  3. Updates
  4. Expense
  5. Conclusion

Mobile Features

If your idea relies heavily on the use of features with better support on mobile devices than on desktop, a mobile app might be the right choice. The following are just some of the features with better support on mobile apps:

  • location-based features and GPS
  • fingerprint recognition
  • camera
  • accelerometer
  • notifications

Too add, if your intent is to provide people with basic information such as articles, contact forms, and galleries, developing a mobile app may be overkill.

Offline Use

Mobile applications can be utilised while you aren’t connected to the Internet. For instance, some applications allow users to upload content while offline. The upload will be cached and queued locally on the device until a connection is made to the Internet. Such offline utility is only provided by some websites — progressive web applications.

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps are modern websites that attempt to imitate the behaviour of mobile apps. They allow for functionality and features such as offline usage, and “Add to Homescreen” (adding a shortcut icon to your phone’s home screen). The downside to progressive web applications is that they are a new concept, and most users aren’t aware of them.

Visit vs. Install

Installing mobile applications can be a hassle for user, whereas, the web alternative of visiting a URL is trivial. Of course, once an app has been downloaded, it’s only a tap away. A good criteria to examine is the expected usage pattern of your idea; that is, will each user be using your service multiple times throughout the day, weekly, a few times in a lifetime, etc.? The higher the frequency, the less costly the install will appear to the user.

Updates

Changing (or updating) content on a website is much easier to do than on a mobile application. This is due to the fact that mobile applications are cached on the mobile device; while websites tend to push the most up-to-date content per visit.

Expense

Mobile apps tend to be more expensive than websites for a few reasons. First, web development is older than app development; hence, there are better and more tools and resources for web development than for mobile development. Although developers could use development tools such as React Native and Cordova to write a single code base that works on all mobile OSes, you might not achieve the best speed and usability. Also, there are more web developers than there are mobile developers.

Conclusion

In an ideal world, you’d have the budget to develop both a mobile application and a website. But when choosing between the two, consider mobile applications’ expense, update complications, installation, and offline utility. Mobile application, website, or both? You’ll have to start somewhere.

 

Our Three Core Principles

harpLabs is built on three core principles:
  • Our customer's vision: We aim to understand our customer's business, mission, and rationale so the products we create perfectly suit their vision.
  • The latest technology: We strive to employ the latest available technology so that your products are as advanced as can be.
  • Rapid production: Our goal is to launch products fast to the market so our customers can be the early birds of their industry.

Carassauga App by harpLabs


Summary

We, harpLabs Inc., built the app for one of the largest multicultural festivals in the world, Carassauga. The app was used by attendees in 2016 and 2017.

What is Carassauga?

Carassauga is a festival that takes place annually in Mississauga. Carassauga boasts to be the largest multicultural Festival in Ontario and is now recognized as the 2nd largest cultural Festival in Canada. Attendees hop from pavilion to pavilion located around the city within the course of 3 days. In 2017, there were 31 pavilions. Each pavilion represents one or more nation, and hosts performances, sells souvenirs, samples foods, and engages in other cultural activities.

Figuratively put, Carassauga is a tour around the world. Flirting with this metaphor, tickets to the event are referred to as “passports”.

Screenshot of the Carassauga App

We Built Their App

Carassauga contacted us to build their app in 2016. We were tasked to support both iOS and Android devices. Complementing Carassauga’s metaphor of being your ”tour around the world”, the app serves as your compass. The app provides pavilion listings, schedules, reviews, related social media posts, shuttle bus info, directions, and more. The main goals of the app was to guide attendees, and spark social media engagement during the festival.

harpLabs President, Mina Michail, and Mayor of Mississauga, Bonnie Crombie, launching Carassauga app

Carassauga employed the app in 2016 and in 2017. It was a big success. In case you’d like to read more about Carassauga and the app, Mississauga News wrote an article.


 

Our Three Core Principles

harpLabs is built on three core principles:
  • Our customer's vision: We aim to understand our customer's business, mission, and rationale so the products we create perfectly suit their vision.
  • The latest technology: We strive to employ the latest available technology so that your products are as advanced as can be.
  • Rapid production: Our goal is to launch products fast to the market so our customers can be the early birds of their industry.

Should I Use WordPress?


Short Answer

Use WordPress if you don’t plan on making a site as complex as Facebook or Reddit, and if you plan to only support a handful of WordPress’s easy-to-implement features.

Table of Contents

  1. What is WordPress?
  2. Easy-to-add Features
  3. WordPress Pros
  4. WordPress Cons
  5. Conclusion

What is WordPress?

Before you can understand what exactly WordPress is, you’ll need to understand how websites work.

How Websites Work

When you visit www.example.com, your computer starts a conversation with www.example.com’s server (which is also a computer). The server is a computer running a program that sits and waits for webpage requests (HTTP requests). When a request is made, the server assembles and spits out a file based on the request (URL and other parameters).

Laptop having conversation with server.

WordPress

WordPress is just a bunch of code that sits on the server, and assembles and spits out the webpages (and other files on your website) based on what visitors request. To add, WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System) which means that some of the webpages will allow you to manage the content and features of the entire website.

Easy-to-implement Features

The following list of features are either built-in to WordPress or are easy to add:

  • Blogs/Articles
  • Image/Video Gallery
  • Forms (e.g., “Contact Us” forms)
  • Small Online Store (e-commerce)
  • Social Media Feeds

If your site mostly consists of a combination of the above features, WordPress is a good bet.

WordPress Pros

  • Good SEO Support
  • Free
  • Quick Deployment
  • Wide Feature Support

Good SEO Support

WordPress is very SEO-friendly, because it adheres to good SEO practices, provides a good selections of SEO plugins, and utilizes server-side rendering.

Free

WordPress’s source code is free. But note: this does not mean that running a WordPress website will be free. There’s still the cost of running a web-server, labour, and domain name registration. Additionally, if you want to optimize security, aesthetics, and ease-of-use, you may have to spend some money on WordPress themes and plugins.

Quick Deployment

There are a ton of online services and tutorials that enable you to deploy a WordPress website in very little time.

Wide Feature Support

Since WordPress has been around and open-source for a very long time (more than a decade), solutions can be found for all sorts of problems. These solutions exist in the form of plugins, themes, and other WordPress tweaks. Want to support multiple languages? There’s a plugin for that. Want to add a “share on social media” button to various pages? There’s a plugin for that. Want to duplicate the contents of your site? There’s a plugin for that.

WordPress Cons

  • Insecure
  • Can Become Slow
  • Not developer-friendly

Insecure

WordPress is open-source meaning anyone can view the source code. Exposed code means exposed vulnerabilities. It’s also extremely popular. Almost a third of all websites employ WordPress. This also means it’s a popular target for hackers.

Can Become Slow

If you wish to support a truck load of features, you’ll very likely end up using a truck load of WordPress plugins. The use of a lot of WordPress plugins could drastically slow down your website. Additionally, WordPress is written in PHP. PHP is old. WordPress is old. And old, unfortunately, is slow.

Not developer-friendly

During my 16-month internship at harpLabs Inc., I implemented about a dozen custom WordPress plugins. One thing I learned is that WordPress is easy on users, but hard on developers. It’s easy to deploy and maintain a WordPress website, but it is difficult to develop WordPress plugins and themes. This is mainly due to the fact that WordPress is old (initially released in 2003); hence, it doesn’t employ the best and most up-to-date coding practices. Newer technologies tend to have friendly, prettier code design and structure.

Conclusion

You can (relatively) easily and quickly deploy a WordPress website that supports a good number of different features like e-commerce and surveys; but, note that WordPress is quite old (thus, can be slow) and isn’t the most developer-friendly technology. Good luck with your adventures.

 

Our Three Core Principles

harpLabs is built on three core principles:
  • Our customer's vision: We aim to understand our customer's business, mission, and rationale so the products we create perfectly suit their vision.
  • The latest technology: We strive to employ the latest available technology so that your products are as advanced as can be.
  • Rapid production: Our goal is to launch products fast to the market so our customers can be the early birds of their industry.