The area of online consumer behaviour and online marketing has been well research over the past ten years as a result of the popularity of the internet from both businesses and consumers. Every year, the number of businesses and organisations who utilise the internet and website design for business and marketing purposes is increasing. Correspondingly, the number of people utilising the internet for the purposes of searching for information and purchasing online is also increasing at exponential rates. The website is the businesses online storefront; the firs impression that many potential customers will have of the business and judgments made according to the website design itself, in terms of appearance, functionality, usability and suitability. Effective website design has become a vital ingredient in the marketing mediums and initiatives for businesses throughout the world.
The use of the internet to gain competitive advantage has been successfully achieved for those early adopters, who invested the monetary and time requirements to develop a professional website design and online appearance. However, with the advent of cheap hosting and a near endless supply of website design companies, the barriers to entry in terms of website design has reduced considerably. Nowadays, any business that wants an online presence can have one, But the question still remains; will this be effective in driving the achievement of the company goals and drive profitability results.
Designing an effective website is much more than creating a ‘pretty face’ for the business. So the question arises as to what makes an effective website design. We are not talking about best practice principles of modern website design, such as colour, text, images, video, interactive content and social sharing functionality. Although essential, they are not the key considerations, but tools to develop the key considerations. The antecedents of an effectible website must be analysed and incorporated into the design; antecedent factors relate to how the consumer behaves. Questions must be asked concerning how current and potential customers find websites, what information they require to make an informed decision, does the target market have an information or emotive decision-making process; when, where and how to we provide information to prompt the consumer into making a positive decision. For a website design to be truly effective in driving the objective and profitability of the business, the website must attract high levels of traffic; and then through design principles that are centred around the needs of your target market, guide them through specific pathways that lead them to purchase or contact.