By Derek Robinson, founder & CEO of Top Notch Dezigns.

We live in a time when the internet has the power to provide solutions to most everyday problems, be it seeking medical advice, making travel arrangements, looking for directions or even buying fresh produce. As someone who has been associated with the field of online marketing and web design for over two decades, I feel it is safe to say that both aspects play way bigger roles than they did when I started out.

Why All the Hue and Cry About Web Design?

Recently, one problem some websites have faced is how they appear across multiple devices, mainly because some still remain optimized for desktops alone. Consider these statistics from comScore. There was a 30 percent increase in internet access through tablets from December 2013 to December 2015, and internet access using smartphones increased by almost 80 percent during the same period. Incidentally, there was a 1 percent drop in desktop internet consumption.

Design components, in my experience, play a more important role than content when it comes to building trust. First impressions matter when it comes to how much time visitors spend on websites, so design elements should make your website look credible and trustworthy. Some of the obstacles that come to mind include complex layouts, pop-up ads, slow load times, lack of color and hard-to-read print. Fortunately, turning to effective web design gives you the means to address these with relative ease.

Digital Marketing Has Come a Long Way

Long gone are the days when having a website and bombarding the internet with keyword-rich articles did the trick. I now view a website as a customer service representative functioning as the digital face of a business, where making that all-important first impression counts. Only, how does one even get to your website?

Without the right kind of digital marketing, your business does not stand a very good chance in the highly competitive online marketplace. Data from a CTR study by Advanced Web Ranking shows a direct correlation between click-through rate (CTR) and exact position on a search engine result page. The first three results account for around 50 percent of traffic, and it is all organic. In my experience, simply using the main keyword in the display URL helps increase CTR, as does including a special offer in the headline.

Given the evolution of digital marketing methodologies and mediums, staying abreast of changes is crucial. The use of videos, for instance, has seen significant growth in the last two years, and there appears to be no slowing down. Why else would our company turn to marketing its services and providing information to its customer base via videos through platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo? Animation, surprisingly, seems to find an increasing number of takers, with a Taco Bell ad on YouTube getting more than 1.1 million views serving as a great example. Businesses looking at getting on the videos bandwagon can benefit by determining what stories they want to tell and dedicating resources accordingly.

Going forward, digital marketing is set to make use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Around 80 percent of marketers who partook in a Demandbase study feel that AI will revolutionize this field in the coming years, and around a quarter of all marketers saw chatbots as the most exciting opportunity. I think that neither trend should be ignored because both go hand-in-hand. The fact that Cyber Monday 2017 generated $6.59 billion in the U.S. alone, making it the largest online sale in the country's history, goes to show that the online marketplace continues to grow. To get a share of the pie, it's really all about effective web design and digital marketing. Overrated? Not by a long shot!

Derek Robinson is founder & CEO of Top Notch Dezigns a web design & digital marketing agency located in New York.

Published on: Feb 15, 2018