Designing and developing a website today is not as easy as it was let’s say four years ago. There are so many elements to take into consideration and various media strategies to contend with.
Color, technology, screen resolutions and cross browser compatibility are but only a few of them. Lately you also have to contend with and create instinctive navigation, search engine optimize your site effectively and ensure that all action pages are merely three clicks away from any given landing page to ensure effective conversion.
With all these considerations, where does one start?
Starting Out Right
I have always been one to believe that if you spend enough time planning your site upfront, you will definitely reap rewards upon its launch.
Prior to jumping straight into development of website, you would have 1.Established demand for a specific product or service in a given industry. 2.Researched and documented strategies of nearest competitors. 3.Estimated intended traffic and market audience site would receive
Only once you have established these points you turn to design.
Designing an effective yet attractive site is most time consuming part within production process.
It is very important that initiator work closely with designer(s), copywriter(s) and developer(s) ensuring that they have access to all information regarding project, including: 1.Target audience 2.Competitors 3.Technology to be used (XHTML, Flash, Java etc.) 4.Site Map, or basic structure of site including pages and on page requirements
Once an initial design has been produced it is advisable that a web analytics or user behavior expert be brought into discussion to ensure that proposed design will convert as expected.
Visitors do not like to think when they are on a website. Present them with content that they are looking for and make it easy for them to find related information or make desired action such as purchasing, downloading or signing up to whatever it is that you wish them to do.
There are a few generic details to look out for to ensure that design is on right track, including: 1.Name of Site: The name of site (and logo) should be clearly visible and legible within header of site. This instills brand awareness and if a catchy name and logo are chosen, you will mostly likely find that your return visitor rate increases. 2.Instinctive navigation: Is it always clear exactly where you are within a site when you are on any given page within site? 3.Underlining of Links: Ensure that all links are underlined. This way outgoing page path and related information is immediately determined and visible to visitor on page load. 4.Actions: It almost seems redundant to say, but ensure actions you would like your visitors to take are always clear. During a page heat map research project, it was proven that most attention lies on right hand side of page. The top right corner being most effective area for actions to take place.
The design is one of first, but none least most important area of site production that needs to be taken into consideration. Equal parts of design, development and content are needed to effectively prepare your site for visitors.