“So, how do you design an effective website?”
There isn't one easy answer to that question. Every client needs the type of site that works best for them – we steer clear of 'one size fits all' formulas. That said, we do have in-house processes and a method that's always produced great results. It looks a bit like this.
1. Pin down your purpose
What do you want your new website to achieve?
- More online sales?
- More signups for your e-newsletter?
- More readers for each blog post?
- More followers on social media?
An e-commerce site will look very different to one that's for games or to show off a portfolio.
Having points of reference is good: existing sites you like the look of, web pages that work well etc. Obviously you don't want a carbon copy of someone else's website – think of them as a mood board instead. We use these thoughts as inspiration to create a website that's individual.
2. Move your brand's image online
Sometimes, all we start from is a company logo. And at other times, clients give us a massive list of brand guidelines to stick to. The important thing to have, in any case, is a clear idea of the marketing tools and materials you're going to use.
There's also a difference between what your website will do, which social platforms suit your aims, and what your online presence will achieve. What works as a marketing tactic on LinkedIn may not be as effective on Twitter, and vice versa.
Things to think about:
- Does your brand need a visual overhaul?
- Do you already use any specific typefaces?
- Will a different colour scheme change your brand's image?
If there's anything you already use that needs to be part of the new website, let us know. We can easily work existing blogs and social media channels into the design.
Our clients come to us with great, ambitious brand ideas and heaps of content. These can't always be effectively translated into a website. It might be that a second look at the typeface makes it less appealing, or that the images you have ready aren't relevant any more.
As an aside, we strongly advise you not to use stock photography. They tend to 'age' quickly, and are often too generic to create the tailored website look you're after.
3. Use good web design to meet your goals
Every aspect of your website will be designed to suit the objectives you decided on at the start. The site map and page layouts should push visitors towards the end point, be that your contact form or the 'buy it now' button.
User experience is critical to your website's design, and taking the time to pin that down early will make finishing the site easier. Wireframes will show you the blueprints for your site before the content goes in. That's when it's best to tweak layouts and the user journey.
4. Make sure it's working
We mean this in both the functional way and in terms of your original goals. Once the new site's up and running, give it a little time to 'bed in' and be found by search engines. Our suggestion is to wait at least 3 months. We can then use analytics to see how effective it's all been.
In the first days and weeks, why not ask friends and family to visit the website and give you their thoughts? Take a look at Google Analytics if you have access to it. In particular, pay attention to the 'bounce rate' – the number of people arriving on your site and almost immediately clicking away. Find what's causing them to backtrack and get any issues fixed.
5. Do it all over again!
Some people say that you need a new TV/phone/laptop almost as soon as you've bought one. Websites aren't like that. They're more flexible. Uploading your new site isn't the end of the process by a long shot.
This time, you have something more concrete to start from. Comparing your objectives to what the new website actually delivered will show where adjustments could be made. Do you need to explore other avenues to get the results you want?
When you're ready to create or overhaul your online presence, come to us