Search engines don't care about web design. People do. While search engines will not index a website for its great layout, but for the content, people will forget the website that has nothing distinctive about it. No visual impact, no interest! Now, if you are a serious online entrepreneur and want to have a website that sends the right message to the visitors, you must know that there are some web design techniques simply inappropriate for a business website.
Many web design companies promise websites that respect the web standards, are usable and search engine friendly. Yes, that's how any website should be. But these are simple tools. A professional company will mention them, but it will also let you know how a website will increase revenue, reduce expenses, bring more customers and so on. A professional web design firm will not fashion a website "out of the blue", but conceive a design after understanding your corporate values, after analyzing the target market and respecting your brand image. That's what you should care about when you choose a web design company.
There are many elements of web design that screw up a business website. Many are simple bad practices, other purely ugly and useless. For an unknown reason business websites with really bad web design are still fashioned every day.
One of the worst web design techniques is to use Flash instead of text. Web designers have fallen in love with Flash, but that will do a website no good: it increases the size of the page and it is not search engine friendly. Flash is great for music bands, movie sites and other sites that need to make a "cool" impression. Business websites need to send other messages: reliability, customer support, experience and so on. There are some astonishing Flash creations on the web, but the most are simply annoying, useless and visitors just hate them. Flash is exceptionally bad when the designer forgets to put a "Skip Intro" button. On a second thought, a "Skip Intro" button will suggest that the content on that page is insignificant. So far is clear: Flash pages send out mixed messages. However, if you are really in love with flash and simply must have it on your website, create a non-Flash version.
Small text could also be really annoying. If people can't see your message, they'll just go away, eventually to your competitors. Another bad web design practice is using too many images and animated buttons. There's nothing worse than a website that twinkles and gets you dizzy while you try to find your way to the information through a bunch of flashy banners, buttons and useless pictures. Many web designers still use background images.
Seriously, have you ever see a global business website that has employed such a web design technique? Most of them have a standard, classic design, with simple navigation and plain text on a white background. The graphics are in perfect harmony with the content, they are not misleading and do have proper ALT attributes. There is a reason for simplicity in web design: creating websites that are simple, logical and easy to use, creating websites that sell.
It takes a real web designer to develop simple web pages that are both appealing and simple. Simplicity in web design should not by synonym with ugliness. Simple websites could be well-designed, elegant and bring other important benefits: they load faster, they are easier to scan and easier to navigate, they are quicker to design, build, redesign, maintain and they require less server space and bandwidth. Best of all: a simple web design will cost less and bring more!