Prevent Web Design Disasters
Way too often people focus on the actual “design” steps of web design — the look and feel, colors and so on — and completely miss the mark when it comes to creating an effective design that evokes the proper actions.
Here are a couple of key points to keep in mind the next time you’re planning to create or re-make a website.
First, you need to get clear on what you want the site visitor to do when they visit.
What are the main types of visitors that you want to attract and what information do they need? So often, designers focus on the company or the products and they forget the main point of the site… to communicate something, to get the visitors to take some sort of action, like fill out a form, buy something, interact, read through a series of pages, download something, etc.
My point is that, as a designer, you should get clear on the OUTCOME and PURPOSE of the site and make sure you design the site with that in mind.
Second, before you even design, you should mind map the site either with software like mindjet.com or use 3 x 5 cards, using one card for each page and lay them out on a table or wall so you can determine the best flow and organization for the site. This helps you understand how many sections you’ll need, what type of forms, the navigation scheme and what major graphical elements are needed.
Third, help the client compile the “page titles” and “top keywords – keyword phrases” that you’re going to use when designing the site. That way, you can make sure that each page has the proper page titles to help the search engines properly catalog each page. Sure, there are tons of other SEO stuff that you can do, and as a designer, you need to incorporate that in the process if you’re really going to help your client or for your own website.
Now some designers will tell you that it’s not their responsibility to do the marketing and SEO type stuff and if so, then just make sure that someone is in-charge of the marketing messages on your site, because without the benefits, keywords and action steps, the site won’t produce results. Oh, and if you think that this only applies to sites that sell something… you’re mistaken… because every site has a purpose and if not, why make it?
Keep in mind that colors, photos, graphics and other design elements are there to help you get the visitor to READ the “text” or “copy” (the words) on your site. Text is what sells… Graphics and Photos attract attention. You need to use both of them in balance to make a great site. A great-looking site with the wrong copy is worthless and even the best copy in the world on a poorly designed site won’t be good either.
Of course, as a marketer, I’d tell you to do your research on what your target audience wants and expects to make it congruent with your industry or profession. Then test, test, test and modify elements that aren’t performing, continually tweaking things until you get the best results.
Got any other ideas or suggestions? Post your comments below.