Have you ever been asked about your website design preferences and used words like “clean”, “subdued”, “corporate”, “blue”? Most of us think about web site design in terms of our aesthetic preferences, but good design incorporates some fundamental elements that will make your website work for your business and your customers.
This series will explore six simple tips that can help you use your site’s design to your advantage. This tip should be the first step you take on your way to a well-designed website.
Tip #1: Plan It Out
Before the conversation about “corporate” and “blue” happens, think about how your website will work. Always map out the pages of your site, figure out where key information will be placed and find the most logical, most direct way to link your pages to one another.
Think like your customers – if you were visiting your site, how would you want to find information?
Good website design practices start with good planning. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money on a terrific, high-end design, only to find out after the fact that your product categories don’t quite fit into the graphical scheme, or the home page layout doesn’t leave room for important announcements, new products or event invitations.
Don’t develop a single graphic until you’ve built a sitemap and designed a wireframe, and then make the design work around your business – not the other way around.
If your site is ecommerce or extensively informational, you should set aside the time and budget to create a skeleton site and do some real-world testing to see if the structure makes sense to the people who will be using it. Sit your employees or customers down and see if they can navigate your site easily and locate information quickly. Part of good design is ease-of-use, and the only way to achieve that is through planning before you design.
The best looking site in the world won’t convert visitors to customers if they can’t find what they’re looking for.
Have you faced a significant design challenge? What was it, and do you think it could have been prevented with better planning?