The Darwinism of Design

The Darwinism of Design can be seen as the survival of the fittest for businesses that continue to evolve based on the current market emerging towards well-designed communication and technological trends.

By Merrilee Hale, Creative Director

Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate; an engine fueled by demand, cost management, advancing processes, and efficiency.

The current market trends towards large corporations continuing to flourish while smaller business struggle for solvency. Many owners wonder why this occurs; offering lower, value-added pricing and quality production should be sufficient to survive, and even thrive, but miss out on opportunities that could place them ahead of the competition.

If your business has existed for half a decade or more, consider the various parts of the whole regarding your operation: iterations of software programs, process management and efficiency protocols, equipment and material upgrades – the changes made have surely helped you compete, but have they really resolved the scope of the issue at hand?

In an age of evolving markets and digital communication, word of mouth referrals and postcard mailings alone are not an effective form of lead generation. Without an effective web presence, you’re losing potential clients faster than you may think. Combining a dynamic, responsive website with social media marketing and a refreshed branding approach can do wonders for your image and your reach.

According to a Pitney Bowes survey, 76% of small businesses say their ideal marketing strategy encompasses a combination of both print and digital communication, while more than half of respondents to a Nielsen survey said they used a social media advertising campaign in conjunction with print media.

Performing a quick search on the web for “local printing companies”, I found 112,000,000 results with over ten paginations. At the top of the list were three advertisements for online only printers, along with four franchises listed below. Without a website containing SEO (search engine optimization), your business will likely be far down the list. Hubspot reports that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results, which doesn’t bode well for many companies. In fact, take a look at some interesting statistics regarding online presence, polished design, and functionality:

  • 48% of users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring. (Source: MarginMedia)
  • 40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load. (Source: Econsultancy)
  • $1.1 trillion of all retail sales in 2011 were “web-influenced.” (Source: Forrester Research)
  • 66% of small businesses are maintaining or increasing spend on digital marketing. (AT&T Small Business Technology Poll
  • 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from real people. (Search Engine Land)
  • 82% of small business owners have said their main source of new business is referrals. (Constant Contact)
  • 69% of consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has information available on a social media site. (comScore Networks and TMP Directional Marketing)
  • 49% of sites fail to comply with basic usability principles, and 50% of online sales are lost because visitors can’t find content. (Forrester)
  • 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours. (Google Mobile Movement Study)

The statistics above are engaging and call for action; they all demonstrate that businesses require a dynamic, responsive website that works on different platforms and devices, provides relevant, current information on services and products, and the capacity to offer value-added services specific to the industry – think file uploads and accurate quote generation.

The internet has been around for far longer than we can recall it in its current form, websites gained greater popularity in the early 1990’s. (For example, Apple first launched their website in 1987, while Google launched in 1994 – just for some reference.) All of the searchable content from this era can’t be completely erased, but search engines like Google are making it more difficult to come across information that hasn’t been updated in, say, 20 years with their newest ranking signal that launched in April.

Even if you created your website 2, 5 or 10 years ago, and have just made minor updates to it, Google will dock your ranking based on the following factors:

  • Mobile-friendly (dynamic, responsive) vs. static:  If loading your website on a smart phone forces you to zoom in to see content, or images and other content are broken or improperly shifted, your website is not “mobile friendly” and Google will send traffic to competitors who do maintain a mobile-friendly presence.
  • Static vs Dynamic Content:  If your website hasn’t been updated in months or years, Google thinks your content is outdated and and will drive traffic to similar industry sites with newer postings.
  • Outdated media content:  As of September 1, Flash has being blocked by default in the Google Chrome browser because of persistent security issues in Adobe’s flagship media streaming technology.  Other browsers are bound to follow Google’s lead, supporting newer formats available in HTML 5.
  • Slow loading pages:  If your website is slow, ensure proper compression of images and files, upgrade to a better hosting plan, or move your website to its own virtual private server (or VPS).
  • Unloadable content:  Broken links, unplayable content, faulty redirects, app download interstitials, and irrelevant cross-links are ultimately bad for business.

You can fix several of these issues above by resizing photographs or digital images and updating broken links. If you have an unresponsive site or it loads slowly, you may want to think about how you or your developer built the site – if you heavily relied on flash, now may be the time to rethink your strategy: development has ceased and the same techniques can be integrated using different methods that are far more appropriate and cause less bandwidth usage – performing at fast speeds even on 4G networked mobile devices.

The Darwinism of Design can be seen as the survival of the fittest for businesses that continue to evolve based on the current market emerging towards well-designed communication and technological trends; those who do do not follow suit will be left behind, creating favorable conditions for companies that understand the importance of web presence factors.

Originally published in

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