Thursday, 1 June 2017

7 Factors to Consider When Designing Websites

Web design is not only creative, but includes much more – from copywriting and typography to layout and graphics, coming together to create an interface that not only looks good but, one that communicates to its audience and delivers a good user experience.

A successful website project is a big task. Everyone wants their project to be successful, but this doesn’t happen magically and needs a strong plan.

1. What are your goals?

First port of call before starting work on your web design is to have a clear understanding of your business goals, or your client’s goals. What are you trying to achieve with the new website or redesign? What is the main reason or purpose of the website? Speak to your client, your manager or ask yourself what they are.

What is the function of your website? Are you selling products or services, creating entertainment or delivering information? Ask why you want the redesign: are you looking to grow the number of registrations, decrease the bounce rate or maybe increase user participation like downloads? The function will predetermine your website design and platform. Goals are equally important if you are considering redesign. 

2. Identify your audience

Knowing your audience is fundamental in how your website will look, feel and function. There are several demographics to consider that will have some effect in the design of your website, e.g. age, gender and occupation. A gaming website for a younger audience requires a different design than that of an entrepreneur. Usability is extremely important for senior and less technical audiences where small detail factors like font size and navigation should be considered.

3. What is your brand image?

Many website designers get excited about using the latest trends without considering the image they should be conveying. Glossy buttons, gradients and reflective floors may work for some websites, but they may not be right for your brand.

A few basic things to consider are colour and how you want visitors to feel when they land on the website and what emotions you want to evoke. Your design should bring to life the personality and character of your brand. Your website will have a feel that makes an impression on your visitors. Think about what that impression should be.

4. Do you have the right team in place?

If your strategy and direction is clear and you have the right team on board for the project, then trust that they will deliver. Communication throughout the website design is important so check in regularly and give feedback, ask questions, but at the same time micromanaging them isn’t necessary if you have the trust. The team will take ownership in pride of the website too and will want it to be a success.

5. Don’t expect a lot for a little

Website budgets are like a seesaw with factors like function, technicalities and design needing careful balance along with the work effort to build a successful website. The application of a budget should be common sense, but all too commonly not. Best practice is to base the budget for the website design on the value you expect to create and budget accordingly.

6. Quality takes time

Give your team sufficient time in regards to budget and timeline of your website project so they are able to complete the job the way you want it. Rushing generally means important and small steps are skipped and the website may not be the best it can be. Rushing means things will be overlooked.

7. Measure

Once your website has been designed, created and deployed, it’s time to measure your success. This is very important because until you test how well your design performs, you won’t know how effective it is in fulfilling your goals e.g. if your aim is to increase the registration numbers to your service, keep tally and measure it and see if your changes are making the impact you wanted. If your goal is to increase subscribers to your blog, check your RSS stats. If it is better user participation take note of comments or forum posts, etc.

Another way to measure the success of your new website is to ask people for their feedback. They will delight in telling you what they think and it's a great way to check you are on the right path, however, be mindful of every suggestion made – they may not be practical or relevant. Look out for regular patterns and common issues – deal with those.

Measuring website analytics is a science unto itself and beyond the scope of this article, but the important thing is you have some method of measuring in place keeping you on track of your key objectives.

Successful website projects aren’t an accident and are a result of a strong process, clear direction, a great team and much grafting and hard work.