Here are some elements of a successful website: a short domain name, easy navigation, appropriate SEO on each page, great content, blog articles, social media integration, video-messages, forms, e-commerce functions, instant communication with visitors, website stats tools, inclusion of phone number and street address. There are many other elements but in my opinion, content is king, social media marketing is queen and functional website design is the prince of a successful website. Make sure you always have enough information on your website to show the world your unique value proposition, your mission or your vision.
Does web design make a difference? Yes design definitely does make a difference, especially functional graphics. But web design is costlier and more time consuming. Furthermore, designs have expiration dates, at some point you will have to redesign your website all over again since the fixed corporate design may already be a thing of the past. However, and if you do not want to use the free design templates and tools available to you, Sibername offers a “middle path” professional design service for about $500 and the work is done with 3-5 days. Similar service may cost more than double this price. A safe plan is for you to start off with the design templates until your business grows enough that you can pay for a customized professional design.
-sylvain (link to the full article)