Building a successful website involves a whole group of different skills from copy-writing and typography to layout and design all merged together to create an interface that not only features a pleasant visual but that communicates function and facilitates easy access to its content.
But in order to combine all these elements of Web design together and achieve effective results you must have a clear direction, a direction that will guide each and every aspect of your design towards common goals you want to achieve.
We are all aware of the virtues of SEO and social media and how a successful Twitter account or Facebook page can boost sales, create contacts and drive in traffic. However, if those carefully created tweets and statuses lead customers to an unclear and badly designed website then all the efforts put into promotion will be ineffective.
If you’re doing business on the Internet, one of the most important aspects of your success is your web site. If your web site doesn’t look professional, no matter what product you’re offering your chances of success are minimal. A great website is essential to a successful business.
Here are a few tips to start getting more from your website.
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Establish your goals
Before you begin building your website you should have a clear idea of precisely what you want achieve form your website. What is the website’s main goal? Ask your clients or yourself what those are. If they or you don’t know yet, then they should be discussed and agreed upon beforehand. A clear direction is essential if you want your design to have a purpose.
Remember that a website isn’t a piece of art; it’s an interface that serves a function. That function may be to sell products, to deliver informational content, to entertain, to inform or to provide access to a service. Whatever that function is, your design must focus on fulfilling it. Goals are also important, especially if you’re doing a redesign. Ask why you are doing the redesign: are you looking to grow the number of sign-ups, decrease the bounce rate or maybe increase user participation?
Identify your target audience
Who your audience is will play a big role in how your website should look and function. There are many demographics here that can influence your design, ones like age, gender, profession and technical competency.
Who your audience is will not only influence the general aesthetic of the website but will also determine a lot of smaller details, like font sizes, colour and themes, so make sure you’re clear about who will be using your website.
Have a Unique Selling Proposition
You’ve established the purpose of your website, set some goals you want to achieve. You can now proceed to implement it.
People never visit just one site to buy a product. They compare prices and features. Also being the cheapest option isn’t necessarily the best solution, people also want ’service’ or a sense of cool or just greater usability.
There are many ways you can lead your design towards accomplishing your main goal, but the strategy is the same: shape and focus all the design elements towards meeting your goals.
Also same strategy applies to your brand and audience: design the aesthetic that best suits it. If your website’s focus is entertainment, then create an “experience.” You are free to use a lot of color and imagery to shape that experience. On the other hand, if you’re designing a website that is focused on information consumption, for example, a blog or a magazine, then focus on usability and readability. Create an interface that fades away and doesn’t distract the user from accessing the content.
“Your design should focus around your user’s needs, if a website isn’t aesthetically pleasing or intuitive your website can become redundant and users will bounce from your web page.
Determine your brand image
A lot of designers tend to get a little too inspired by the latest trends and then implement them without thinking first about what sort of image they really should be conveying. Glossy buttons, gradients and reflective floors may work for some websites, but they may not be right for your brand.
Think about color. Think about the feel you want to achieve and emotions you wish to elicit. Your design should embody the personality and character of your brand. Everything has a brand; even if you don’t sell a product or service — for example, if you run a blog — your website still has a certain feel that makes an impression on your visitors. Decide what that impression should be.
Measure your results
Once you’ve designed and deployed your website, it’s time to measure your success. This is just as important as the first two steps because until you test how well your design performs, you won’t know whether or not it is effective in fulfilling your goals.
If your goal is to increase the number of sign-ups to your service, measure it and see if your changes are making a positive impact. If you want to increase the number of subscribers to your blog, check your list stats. If you want to increase user involvement, see if you get more comments or more forum posts or whatever else is relevant in your context.
You can, of course, also ask people for their feedback, and this is a very good way to check if you’re on the right track. If you do collect feedback, look for arrangements; see if there are common issues that crop up and deal with those.
Every website should have some ways of measuring business objectives. Which can be used to see if they’re moving in the right direction with their design and with any future changes that they or their clients may want.
Using the results of your measurements, you can identify problem areas. Perhaps your visitors cannot find the RSS feed link, or your bounce rate is too high or an important page on your website isn’t getting enough visits. Whatever the problem is, there will always be a way to improve things.
Continuously update and improve your website
When you work on your website, you should be always be updating, improving and redesigning because the version you’ve just published is not the final version. There’s never a final version in of your website or web app. You can always make improvements, and the very nature of a website will allow you to introduce these at any time. This is because a website isn’t a magazine that you print and sell: once a magazine copy is out of your hands, you cannot make any changes or fix any spelling mistakes or errors. A website, however, sits on your server: if you find a mistake, you can fix it right away. In the same manner, you can introduce gradual improvements and updates to make your website more effective in serving its function.
A bad and a failed website consists of irrelevant content, which doesn’t represent the product or business you are doing. A website that isn’t intuitive or doesn’t answer a user’s questions when they are on your website shows that your website isn’t useful and a user won’t stick around. SEO should also be ensured in order to drive traffic to your site and have high rankings in search engines, Make your site load fast as much as possible. This is important from two aspects: user experience and a SEO factor.