What is web design? 3 ways your website can help grow your business
By Guy Anderson
Most business owners know that you need a website. But what is web design and the world wide web? More importantly, how can your website help you grow your business?
Running a modern business today
Running a modern business requires some real skills.
Of course, there’s the actual discipline you’re trained to deliver, such as yoga, mindfulness, therapy, coaching, etc. But you also need to wrap your head around other essential business skills, like time management, computer skills, finances and bookkeeping as well as learn a whole range of different software programs, such as Zoom, Calendly, GDocs, spreadsheets, bookkeeping apps and more. You need to become proficient in all these areas just to manage your business.
And then there’s marketing. Marketing is an umbrella term for several related but distinct disciplines, including brand strategy, logo design, web design, SEO, copywriting, graphic design, blogging, video, audio, email marketing and social media.
That’s a long list of skills and there are experts that specialise in each area. For the purposes of this post we’re going to take a quick look at web design, and share 3 ways good web design can help you grow your business. But before we do that, let’s explore how web design came about.
Introducing the World Wide Web
The World Wide Web (www) was invented in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist working at CERN. The www is basically what you see when you “browse the internet” using a web browser like Google Chrome or Safari. In the old days, web addresses used to start with www as in www.wildheartmedia.com. These days you can skip writing the www, so wildheartmedia.com works just fine too.
The birth of websites
What’s so groundbreaking about the World Wide Web is that it makes it easy to create documents (web pages) containing text and images. But even better still, it's possible to link to any pages on the www using hyperlinks!
These documents are kept on computers that are all connected together by a network and anyone can see them using free software (web browsers) almost instantly from anywhere in the world!
The internet is truly revolutionary and can be compared to the invention of Gutenberg's printing press, which shook the world!
How do people find web pages?
In the same way that the postman needs to know your physical address in order to deliver your letters, website visitors need to know your web address to find your web pages. So your domain name is your virtual address on the internet.
If you run a business, your domain name should be the same or very similar to your company name so that it’s easy for people to find you. Our web address is wildheartmedia.com and our business name is Wildheart AB. The AB is the Swedish version of Ltd.
So, to summarise: a website is a collection of web pages all accessible via a domain name.
What is web design?
Web design has emerged over the last quarter of a century, thanks to the invention of the World Wide Web. In the 90s when we started designing and building websites, us designers used the term “pages” and applied the principles of graphic design to the screen instead of printed paper. It was a good effort but it wasn’t perfect. For starters, a printed page is a fixed size, whereas a screen can scroll on forever.
Web design is often used as an umbrella term that includes both the designing and building of websites. So, web designers are supposed to be skilled at making sure a website looks good, is easy to use and navigate and loads without any problems in your web browser on your mobile phone, tablet and laptop.
Making sure a website loads without any problems across all these devices takes a lot of time and work and web designers tend to focus on this part of the work, often at the expense of the content of the actual web pages themselves. Remember: web designers are not copywriters, or experts in branding, SEO, email marketing or social media.
If you’ve made it this far, you’ll have a good high-level understanding of what a website is and what you can realistically expect from most web designers. Now it’s time to dive into the good stuff.
3 ways your website can help you grow your business
1. A good website is more than an online business card
At the very least, your website should clearly display your contact details. But a good website can do so much more than this. It should take your visitors on a journey that helps them understand why you do what you do and how you make their lives better.
There are two ways you take people on a journey on your website. They either use the top navigation – working from left to right (or top down on a mobile). Or they scroll down the page. At the bottom of the page they should find a call-to-action which is either a link to another page (usually in the form of a button) or a contact form to fill in.
This helps you grow your business because your website is intentionally designed to lead your visitors to specific pages where they make a decision and take action, either by making a purchase or by contacting you via a web form.
2. A good website is alive
Once you’ve launched or relaunched your website to the world it’s time to start adding fresh content. Your website should never be “finished”. As you add more content to your website you’re giving both visitors and search engines a reason to keep coming back. New updates also means you’ll have ready-made content to share on social media and to your email list.
If people see that your content is changing regularly, this will also give them a reason to sign up to your email list – so they don’t miss out on any new content. This helps you grow your audience, raises brand awareness and generates more sales.
Writing regular blog posts on your area of expertise is a great way to both grow your audience and clarify your position on a variety of topics.
Increasing your audience helps you grow your business because over time your website visitors will subscribe to your email list and buy your products and services.
3. A good website keeps you independent
The World Wide Web is based on an open model. Much of the software that runs the internet like Apache, PHP, Java and WordPress is all created and maintained by a huge community of developers for free. This model is known as open-source and it means that the World Wide Web is not owned by one company or run for profit.
Social media services like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest, however, are all privately owned and run on a for-profit model, making money from the sales of advertising. In fact, advertising is what made Google one of the biggest companies in the world.
Having your own website and owning your own content ensures that you’re independent from companies with other interests and priorities (e.g. selling you advertising).
This independence is very valuable, as we wrote about in our blog post Is Instagram down? 3 ways you can still reach people. Besides websites going offline, companies like Meta (which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) have made changes to their algorithm that prioritises content promoted by paid ads over “organic” non-paid content.
Google also prioritises paid content over organic content by displaying paid ads before organic search results. But it’s not the only search engine in the world! So, if Google goes down, you can switch to another search engine like Yahoo or Ecosia (and help to plant trees in the process).
Having your own domain and website means that people can find you using a web browser, even if big sites like Google, Facebook or Instagram go down or they change how they deliver their content in the future.
In this post we gave you a little background and context to the World Wide Web and web design. We also shared 3 ways your website can help you grow your business.
If your website doesn't feel professional enough then do reach out. We’d love to help you start using your website to grow your business.