The utter importance of good design is difficult to overstate. Such tools are great for encouraging more people to use the Internet and develop new skills, however, if you are looking to establish a 'serious' presence for you or your organization you will be best served by finding someone with the education, tools, and talent that go into good design.
When people come to your website, they also formulate an opinion about your business. They determine whether you are a professional company that cares about your appearance. They determine if you pay attention to detail. If your website design looks like it was created by a 12 year old as a part time project for his computer science class, or if it is littered with mistakes, then the visitor is far less likely to want to become your customer.
There is a vast amount of literature on the web regarding what constitutes good design, and why good design is so important. An excellent place to go, however, for views and information on good online design is to other professional website designers themselves. Online forums are not good for everything, but web designers use them a lot, and much of what follows on good design is based upon forum posts from web designers on just this topic.
One web designer pointed out that it takes around 50 milliseconds for a visitor to decide whether or not they like a website. This seems like a rather short amount of time, and it is. However, it does not seem so far fetched when we consider our own viewing and browsing habits. Generally, we know the information, service, or product we seek; the more obviously, reliably, and aesthetically these can be delivered the more likely we are to use the website accessed instead of searching for another, 'better' one.
In other words, good design means good first impressions. Good design is important because it not only gives your website a better chance of success, but also because it makes life so much easier and pleasant for those of us who spend any amount of time on the web.
It should also be said that good design is not simply a functional characteristic toward which one should strive. The design says something about your organizations attitude and image. Regardless of the quality of your product or service, it is the design which first must communicate the value of the product or service in question to the consumer.
While good design is important, it is also important to remember that what constitutes 'good design' is relative. In general, good web design is able to do this in original and functional ways that translate a website's image into a company's success.
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