As a business owner, you might be confused, you keep hearing about websites and web design. Both buzzwords that might make your headache.

No worries, we’re here to guide you on everything website and web design. We have provided as much information as possible to make it easier for you when looking for a web designer and when thinking about a website for your business.

What is a website?

A website can simply be defined as a domain that consists of a number of web pages. The site can have a single page, two pages or even more. For a business, the website is your door to potential online users. It represents your business online. 

You should always include a website as part of your marketing strategy. Having a site gives your customers an opportunity to know the product/services you offer without having to physically be at your store/office. It could be considered a free form of advertising.

In today’s digital world, you’re taking a big risk if you’re running a business without a website. It’s damaging your overall brand and even at times your credibility.

Why your business needs a new website?

It’s Expected By Your Customers

Today’s customers are digitally savvy and impatient. In a world with smartphones, Instant gratification has become the norm, they want something and they want it now! Your business not being online means missing out on customers who end up looking elsewhere for what they need.

A survey showed that 6 out of 10 users expected brands to provide some sort of information about their business online.

This just underlines the importance of having a website in today’s world. The case is the same in Tanzania where digital users have been growing in large numbers. Many of them being smartphone users. 

You get to have Visible Social Proof

Humans are just as much pack oriented as other animals. We need justifications for what we do, thus the reason why mouth to mouth is still the most effective form of marketing.

Many users will purchase a product if it’s recommended to them by someone they trust. In fact, a number of consumers have stated that online reviews influenced their buying decisions.

One way to get reviews is via review sites like Yelp, Google Business reviews, and FourSquare to name a few.

Another method is through your website by adding a customer reviews section. You get to kill two birds with one stone. Customers visiting your site get to know what you offer and get to see what others have said about your business.

Other Benefits

Having a website also provides a host of other tangible benefits that we covered on why you need a good website and web design service in Tanzania. But let’s touch on them briefly.

You’re accessible at all times. Anyone looking for information about your business can get it at any time of the day. In addition to that, having a website is cost effective. A good web design service can help you build your website at an affordable cost. Plus, there are no overhead costs. All you need to do is pay for the hosting service and that’s about it.

What you should do before getting a website

Building a website is not easy, it might look so, but it’s not. It can be daunting once you realize what is involved in the process of making a website.  Here’s what we advise most clients to do before building a website.

1. Examine the Purpose of the Website

You should have a clear focus on why you’re building the website in the first place. What is it that you’re looking to do.

  • Do you want to sell a product/service?
  • Provide information to your customers?
  • or even showcase your work?

Knowing all this will help guide you to know the optimal design for your website.

2. Understand Your Customers

A website is a door to your business online. Before building a website, you need to know your customer.

  • Who are they?
  • What do they want?
  • What would they like to do on the site?

Market research is essential, you should do it before the web design and after its done. You need to understand that the habits of your target customer today will not be the same 5-10 years down the line.

3. Seek Professional Help 

Specialization is a thing, we can’t all be good at everything. Wix and Squarespace might promise to make you a web designer, but there is a lot more to it than putting elements together.

You need to consider the design, aligning the content with it and having it communicate and meet the needs of your audience. User experience is key nowadays. The easier is for a user to understand and navigate through your site the better results you will get. 

Don’t be ashamed to ask for professional help from a web designer/agency. The best web designers can take over this part of the business for you and provide excellent work in the end.

4. Your Domain Name

You only have one shot at this, so you best make it count. It’s not easy to change the domain name, especially after people get used to the original one. There are some principles that you can follow when choosing a domain name, make it:

  • Short
  • Easy to remember
  • Related to your business

If you aren’t that creative with domain names, then leverage the tools available online that can help set you on the path to finding the best name.

5. Sitemap, Design, and Content

A house isn’t built without having an illustration of how it’ll look like. The same can be said about a website. The structure of a website is known as a Sitemap. You always need to consider the design of the website. Some few questions you can ask yourself are:

  • How many pages should my site have?
  • How should the homepage look?
  • Will I have a blog on my website?
  • What do I want my visitors to do once they get to my site?
  • What features do I want on my website?

These questions can help guide you through the design process. If all this sounds daunting and stressful to you, then simply visit a good web designer. You’ll most likely get a free consultation and they’ll answer your questions and guide you in the right direction.

On the matter of content, you are going to need a good agency to handle that for you. A good copywriter can also help populate your site with relevant content.

6. SEO, Social Media and Email Marketing

Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that visitors will come once the website is online. You should not make the same mistake.

You need to get your website visible to your potential customers. It’s no good just waiting for people to find you. You need to make some noise. Which usually means a combination on of social media & email marketing, Online Advertising and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

You need to get savvy with the above-mentioned concepts or you can hire what you consider the best digital marketing agency to handle it for you.

What to look for in a website design company

You shouldn’t just choose the first website design company you come across. There are some few factors that you need to consider. Let’s have a look at some of them:

1. The Portfolio

What you need to look at first is the portfolio of the company you plan to work with. The portfolio will consist of the previous websites that they designed and developed for previous clients.

You should make sure that there is a link to the actual website and not just screenshots of the homepage. Looking at the different designs will let you know whether they’re a good fit for your business or not.

2.  The Knowledge They Possess

A good web design company will possess knowledge on different aspects such as conversion and market trends.

Web design is not simply about putting a website online. There is more to it if you want sales or your visitors to take a certain action while on the site.

The layout, wording (call to actions) and navigation have to be considered during the design process. You also need a company that keeps in touch with the latest trends.

The habits of consumers change rapidly, so you need a company that can keep up with the changing times. Your customers will most likely visit and trust your website if it looks “modern” to them.

3.  Price Point

This is a touchy subject for many business owners. We have had our fair share of customers who’d want “cheaper” deals. Cheap web designers would use a template that they just alter a bit to include your content and requirements. This leads to your site looking like every other blog/personal site online.

We don’t need to tell you that this isn’t good from a marketing perspective. It diminishes the value of your business to customers who visit your site. You are going to need to invest in your website if you want it to look unique online.

4.  Value Addition

Like in any other professional relationship, you need to have some “chemistry” with the team that you’ll work with. You should work with a company that’s going to add value to your business. You could ask yourself

  • Are they willing to listen and implement my ideas?
  • Do they have any of their own ideas that they can add on to mine?
  • Are they willing to give their time to make sure that the final product is as I want it?

A good company will give you their time, ideas and most importantly listen to you to make sure the final product is as you desire.

5.  Customer Service

How does the company treat their customers? The way they treat them is a telling sign on how they develop products and run their business. You need a company that takes your calls when you need clarification and updates you promptly when queries are raised. A good web design company will always treat their customers well.

6.  Testimonials and references

Another good and quick method of assessing a company’s credibility is via the customer reviews. What do previous customers have to say about the company and the final product they received. There are many ways that you can get these reviews. You can visit:

  • The company website

Not the best method as the company has the opportunity to pick and choose the reviews to display

  • Google Business Reviews

In today’s day and age, a company should have reviews on Google. In fact, we also have some reviews from our previous customers that you can check. This is much better as you can get to see all reviews, positive and negative.

Best Website Design Trends to adopt on your website

As we said earlier, customers will trust companies with websites that are “modern”. Keeping up with that mantra, here are some of the best web design trends to adopt in 2018:

1. Web App Functionality

Web app functionality has started gaining speed in recent times. More so, progressive web apps. We can simply define them as native applications that run on the web. A good example is Whatsapp. You can use it on either mobile operating system or on your PC as a web app.

These apps are meant to make it easier for users to use their favorite apps on PC. Progressive web apps are gaining momentum, there aren’t many of them, but their numbers will definitely grow in 2018. Businesses that plan to have native apps should definitely consider this option.

2. High-Quality Photography

As a business, you need to have the trust of your customers at all times. More trust might mean more business. A recent study has shown that many internet users don’t like stock photos and lose trust with websites that use these photos.

Stock photos are free and so can be used many times on so many different sites. If you can, don’t use them.You need to have your own high-quality photographs on your web pages. 

3. Messenger Chat Bots

Today’s internet users want instant gratification. They expect to get feedback from your business almost immediately. This is why AI bots have become such a big thing online especially on Facebook Messenger.

With more than 900 million users on the platform, it’s the place to be as a business. You’ll be surprised to learn that there are plenty of tools that you can integrate into your messenger for chatbot functionality. The best part is not much coding knowledge is required. These bots will then respond to general queries that your customers might have. chatbots are definitely going to change how businesses operate online in 2018. 

4. Push Notifications

These notifications were very popular on mobile apps and now they are moving to websites. It can be used to keep your customers updated and alerted to changes quickly. For instance, for e-commerce, they can be used to alert customers that have abandoned their carts about discounts/sales. They can also get notified when you post new content online. Push notifications are user-friendly and simple to set up.

example of a beautiful web design

Web Design principles for beautiful websites

There are some principles that need to be followed when designing websites. Consider them the basics of web design. A good eye for design is still needed, but you also need the site to:

Be Mobile Friendly

There are many internet users, especially in Tanzania, that are smartphone users. A good website should be adopted for different screens like mobile phones, tablets, and PCs. In short, the website should have a responsive design. 

Have a Quick Load time

Your website should load fast. It shouldn’t take more than 10 seconds for your website to load fully. It’s a well-known fact that users hate websites that take too long to load.

There are some few things that you can do to make your site load fast. For instance, you can use cache plugins, reduce the number of plugins you use (if there are too many), Use a CDN or even alter the design of the website. 

Be easy to navigate

Navigation is key in the structure of a website. A site that is hard to navigate can upset users and lower the number of visitors in the long run.

This is why it’s important to have an image/layout of the site before the design begins. You can divide the site into menus and pages with keywords to make it easier for the user to get the information they need.

Have Good Quality Images

High-quality images are important for your business website to look good. You can combine these with videos, images, and infographics to make your site stand out. Tanzanian internet users are quite visual, so images and videos can get your messages to them better than text.

Have Good Typography

In design, text is one of the most common elements, so a lot of thought has to be put into it. You need to consider the font that you’ll use and the size as well. You also need to make sure that you space the text. Spacing between lines and other objects makes the content more readable.

Types of Content Management Systems (CMS) You Need to Know

Before we begin, telling you the different CMS that you can use, we need to examine what they are in the first place.

What is a Content Management System(CMS)?

 It’s a web application that helps present and store HTML content in a manageable format. It uses a database (normally MySQL) to make this possible.

The system has a back end, the area where creation and editing of content are done and a front end, where the content is displayed to you, the final user.

There are many reasons as to why you should use a CMS, but the main one is to make managing and editing content simple and easy. There are so many Content Management Systems on the market today, but we shall focus on the most popular ones.

1. WordPress

You have probably heard of this one. It’s by far the most popular CMS on the market. It’s favored by many developers and normal users alike.

The interface is user-friendly and easy to understand. It has a large and active community, so it’s easy to get solutions if you encounter problems. On top of that, it has quite a lot of plugins and extensions that can add to its functionality.

This is the CMS that we recommend to all our clients. It’s much easier for them to manage the site once it’s handed over as not much technical expertise is needed.

2. Drupal

It’s not the most user-friendly, but it’s right up there with WordPress. You do need a bit more technical knowledge to manage a site that uses Drupal.

It’s a pure CMS with a large and active community. It also has plenty of optional modules that you can add for extra features on your site.

3. Joomla

This CMS is one of the most advanced of all 3. It has more similarities to Drupal than WordPress. It’s best for larger websites that need a bit more functionality than a simple web page and blog. On that note, you need to be comfortable with code in order to manage a Joomla site.

This is all you need to know about Web Design. InStudio is committed to providing you with a professional design that fits your business. Contact us for a free consultation and quote for our web design service.