Web Design Norwich – A Complete Guide

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You probably just typed in something like web designers Norwich into a search engine right? Well, you came to the right place. Getting the right website for your Norwich or Norfolk based business can be tough. Where do you even start? Do you try to build your own website, or do you use the services of a web designer? How will your website match your brand, and how bespoke should it be?

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg. You also have to consider things like SEO, digital marketing, how your website looks, what content it should have and the development process. Which is why I’ve written this website design Norwich guide, to help simplify the process for local businesses. This guide is designed to help you achieve the best result for you and your team, in the form of a fantastic website that everyone is happy with.

Norwich web design guide

What is a website?

Let’s begin by defining what a website actually is. A website is, essentially, a collection of files stored on a server. Just as you store files locally on your computer, you store your website on a server that ‘serves’ your website to people visiting your domain name.

Your domain name can be thought of as your virtual address on the internet. Visitors type in your domain name, then their browser downloads the files from your server and renders them, displaying your website.

What does a website consist of?

Here’s a quick anatomy of a website for you:

  • HTML, or hypertext markup language, is used to structure your website and can be viewed as the foundation of the website. T tells the browser how to structure your content and where to display it.
  • CSS, which stands for cascading style sheets, is used to style your website. Like you might use bold text in a Word document to highlight something, CSS works the same way, except you can do a ton more with it. CSS is what allows us to develop modern, clean and sleek looking websites.
  • JS, or Javascript, is used to make your website interactive. Javascript is used for things like hover effects or dynamic effects on your website.

These three languages are used to build almost every website on the web. Your website will also utilize other server side languages like PHP and SQL.

web design using PHP

How do websites work in 2019?

The majority of websites in 2019 are built using content management systems. A content management system allows you to manage your website without touching any code.

As far as content management systems go, WordPress is the market leader by far. WordPress powers 30% of all websites on the web and 60% of all websites using a CMS. Data from w3Tech

If you are trying to decide which CMS to use for your business website, I would recommend you read Why WordPress Is The BEST Option For Your Small Business Or Startup Website.

How does the website design process work?

The process for building a website for yourself, or your clients can be simplified into four parts.

  1. Choosing a web design style to match your brand
  2. Agreeing on functionality
  3. Picking a theme
  4. Wireframing

1. Choosing a web design style

Websites comes in all different shapes and sizes. There are lots of different styles and approaches you can take to website design in Norwich.

Choosing a design style should be a collaborative process and agreed at the outset of the project with your web designer in Norwich, or the company who’s services you have contracted.

This typically involves completing a questionnaire or consultation. The more input given, the more likely your website will accurately reflect your brand. There are several key areas to address when choosing a design style.

  • Colour scheme
  • Typography
  • Imagery
  • Whitespace

Colour scheme

The colour scheme your company website uses will play a large part in first impressions and how your business is perceived. It is also a key part of your digital marketing strategy and branding. Your colour scheme needs to match your logo and brand colours. If you have a logo that is red and grey, those should be the colours that are used on your website to ensure you achieve brand consistency.

If you don’t have a logo, or your logo uses neutral colours like black or dark grey, you could use Paletton to generate a colour scheme for your website, or ask your website designer to do this. When it comes to colours, less is more. Stick to 2-3 colours maximum, unless you’re dealing with a large website. 

Typography

You wouldn’t think it if you weren’t a web designer, but fonts and typography can make or break a website. Picking the right font is a very important decision and can make your website look professional, creative, luxury or neutral. Typography plays a huge role in your marketing and how you are perceived, whether you are a services business or sell a product.

If you are a professional services, like an accountant or law firm for example, you will likely want to opt for a traditional typeface, or a neutral one, like Lato or Open Sans. The font you use should be consistent across your website, including the menu and footer.

These fonts are not too ‘stiff’, but are clean, neutral and a good mix of professional and aesthetically pleasing, making them popular choices across the web. If you’re unsure what sort of typography you’d like to use, check out Google Fonts.

Imagery

Deciding whether to use imagery, icons or a combination of the two across your website is another important consideration. You will also want to consider what sort of imagery and icons you use. If you’re in a creative industry, or a competitive one, you may want to use striking well designed icons from somewhere like Flaticon.

Flaticon for web design

If you are in a traditional services industry that requires a conservative approach, like wealth management for example, you may wish to opt for neutral stock imagery from somewhere like Pexels, or Shutterstock.  Using consistent imagery across your website and digital marketing campaigns is key for maintaining a professional image.

Whitespace

The expression ‘less is more’ has never been more true than when it comes to website design Norwich. Whitespace is the web’s answer to less is more. Whitespace is the art of using the empty areas of a web page to accentuate the content on the page and make it easy for visitors to navigate. 

Cluttered web design is a sure way of turning people off your web design and losing potential leads. It can result in a high bounce rate and in people leaving your website before they find the info they need and submitting a contact form.

This is Neil Patel’s website, which uses white space effectively. The end result is lots of leads for Neil’s marketing services business.

Responsive web design

You’ve probably heard the term responsive web design by now in Norwich. It simply means a website that responds to different screen sizes.

Specifically this is talking about mobile and tablet devices, because we’ve all been using laptops and desktop for years, right? It’s been standard practice to design for different screen sizes for a good 6 or 7 years now and is absolutely essential for a successful website in 2019.

Your prospective customers are busy people and may discover your website via email or one of your marketing campaigns on their phone or tablet during a break, or at home in the evening. This is equally important whether you are a services businesses or not.

The chances of them dropping everything during their busy day and loading your website up on their computer get lower by the day. To check if your website is optimised for mobile devices, you can use this free tool.

Google mobile friendly test

2. Functionality scoping

This means agreeing what functionality requirements the has. You should agree with your developer  and team what features the website should have at the outset to ensure you don’t go over budget, or exceed your desired timeline.

3. Picking a theme

Most websites are now built using responsive, multipurpose WordPress themes. These themes contain all the building blocks you need to design and develop your website, any way that you like.

4. Wireframing

Web design used to be a long and expensive process. A designer would create designs in Photoshop that a developer would then bring to life. This makes it difficult to alter designs or implement revisions, as everything has to go back to the design stage.

Wireframing makes this process simpler and more cost effective. It’s now possible to quickly build prototypes of how your website will look and work. Using these prototypes it’s easy to quickly revise your design until you are happy with the result. Check out this video demonstrating how the Divi Builder makes this easy.

E-commerce

WooCommerce is an e-commerce plugin for WordPress that allows you to build a professional online store. It’s affordable, customisable and extendable. It is the perfect platform to build your store on that is sophisticated enough to be effective but not too expensive to be unaffordable.

Why WooCommerce?

Here are some of the key reasons why you should use WooCommerce if you plan to sell through your website.

  1. Open source. This means it is highly customisable and your team can control every aspect of how your store looks, feels and functions.
  2. Affordable. Unlike legacy platforms like Magento, WooCommerce is easy to work with and the barriers to entry for building, growing or customising a store are not unreasonably high.
  3. Effective. WooCommerce comes with a one page checkout which is designed to generate the highest rate of conversions for your store. It also has a huge extensions library that you can use to grow and optimise your store.

Not only that, but it’s is capable of building some seriously sophisticated ecommerce websites, far beyond just simple online stores. Here are just a few things it can do with extensions:

  1. Membership Website
  2. Marketplace
  3. Hotel Bookings
  4. Create Your Own Product 
  5. Property Portal
  6. Digital Downloads

Hosting

Remember earlier in the guide I talked briefly about hosting being where you store your website?

Well, there’s a little bit more to it than that. Hosting can be broken down into 3 areas:

  1. Types of hosting
  2. Quality of the hosting provider
  3. Technical specifications of hosting platform

Types of hosting

There are three types of hosting available to you.

  • Dedicated servers
  • Virtual hosting
  • Shared hosting

For your small business website, shared hosting is the best option.

Siteground hosting

Quality of the hosting provider

Do not just go with the cheapest provider unless you want to deal with non stop headaches.

The hosting provider you choose is super important and is one of the main reasons we recommend Siteground. 

Things you need to look out for:

  • Are their support team highly trained developers, or sales people following scripts
  • Is there a 24/7 customer support team
  • Are there multiple support options available like live chat and support tickets

Technical specifications of the hosting platform

This is another important consideration that will directly impact the performance of your website, so the bigger your website and the more traffic it receives, the more important this consideration becomes.

Some things you need to consider:

  • What PHP version does the hosting provider support? Make sure they offer the latest version 7.3 and aren’t stuck on 5.6, which will make your website very slow.
  • Do they offer CPANEL? This is the industry standard hosting platform and will make your website a lot easier to manage
  • Are their servers PCI compliant for ecommerce?
  • Within CPANEL can you use tools like caching and version control?

Recommended host

We highly recommend you use Siteground, who are our hosting partner. You can host your website with Siteground for only £70 per year for the first year. Siteground tick all of the boxes discussed above and will leave your team happy, rather than with headaches.

Web Hosting

Page speed

How quickly your website loads is becoming an important part of any digital marketing plan. Google have released updates prioritizing faster websites and websites that meet a certain speed threshold.

There’s also the question of bounce rate, which I mentioned briefly above. If your website is super slow, new customers are likely to leave it rather than hang around and wait. Here’s a free tool you can use to test the speed of your website.

Web design in NorwichYour website doesn’t have to be lightning fast to be successful, but it has to be fast enough and this means considering a few things:

  • Hosting (server performance and speed)
  • Number of scripts your website uses and loads
  • Size of images and website content
  • Performance of your code
  • The plugins you use

These are all things to discuss with your web developer, who can suggest the best course of action based on the size of your website, your budget and the industry you are in.

Social media

Social media now plays a key role in many businesses marketing strategies. For example, using tools like the Facebook Pixel, small businesses can re-market to people who visit their business or specific website pages and posts.

When it comes to your website, it’s important to consider integrating your social media profileswith your website, this might mean including links to your platforms in the footer or header of your website, and the ability to share your blog posts easily.

HTTPS and SSL

There are two ways you can access a website. Using HTTP or HTTPS. HTTPS is a secure, encrypted protocol for visiting a website. To use this your website needs an SSL certificate which easily be installed by most major hosts.

This is also an important digital marketing consideration, as Google now consider it in their ranking algorithm. Not only this, but your website could be marked as unsecure and display a red security warning costing you leads, if you don’t have an SSL certificate.

Here’s another one of those free tools you love that allows you to check if your website is using HTTPS. If you still aren’t using HTTPS, I would highly recommendthat you make the switch now.

SSL test

Budget

If your expectations are high and your budget is low, you may end up with a bad website that does everything you’ve asked for, but not very well.

Professionally built small business websites can range from £500 to £10,000, depending on the size and requirements of the website. The average cost of a a simple small business website is between £1,000-2,000, with ecommerce stores typically costing £2000-5,000.

Factors that can increase, or decrease, the price of you or your clients project are:

  • Quality of design
  • Size of the website
  • How complex the site is
  • Moving between different CMS platforms
  • Custom coding and development requirements

SEO

Search engine optimisation is an important consideration as far as website design is concerned. If you plan on being found on, and generating leads from Google, it’s incredibly important.

There are two parts to search engine optimisation, on page optimisation and off page optimisation (link building). It’s important to pick an SEO friendly CMS platform, which allows you to gain full control of your site structure and metadata.

There are numerous powerful SEO plugins like The SEO Framework that allow you to SEO optimise your website without any coding knowledge. Appearing for that elusive ‘Norwich SEO’ keyword may be only a plugin away!

Live chat

Tools like Drift have made live chat so effective that it deserves its own section in this guide.Live chat allows you to talk to your customers in real time via your website, without having to pick up a phone or send an email.

This is ideal for customer service and lead generation. Many visitors are not ready to purchase or contact you when they land on your website. Live chat is proven to significantly increase the amount of leads generated via a website by bridging the gap between ready to talk and just looking in a no friction manner. Drift, the best live chat application on the market, can be setup quite easily with a script embedded on your site.

Web design Norwich

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