A well maintained site is never finished, there is always a plan in place which is why it is good practice to start off your website design with a plan, though many free website creators offer their own plan. Web design is more about usability than good presentation, the two go hand in hand however without usability most sites are useless. By having a check list of what your site is going to achieve your overall vision becomes a lot clearer making it easier for you to see opportunities where you can improve usability for your users. Another great reason for having a checklist is that it allows you to analyze your competitions site and include what they left out. By adding useful pieces of design that competition have to your checklist you will be sure not to lose out on potential conversion opportunities. Most importantly about having a website design check list is that it becomes very easy to communicate your message and allows you to focus on what is important.
There are a hundred million reasons under the sun why you might want to design a website but the most successful ones know what they want to achieve from day one. Really think about what it is that you want your site to achieve? Do you want to collect e-mail addresses and use them for future prospecting? Are you expecting someone to buy products from your site or are you expecting them to pick up the phone and give you a call. This will determine some key layout components of your site and get you thinking about the funnel a user will use before completing a goal.
Define your Audience
Defining your audience sounds easy but to get it right you really have to put in a lot of research. Depending on who your potential users are will determine what size buttons you use, What size text and font is most appropriate or should your include video. It will also help you determine how users will complete a goal. For instance some older users don’t like entering credit card details so it might be more appropriate for them to be able to call you. These are all very important things to help you when designing a website.
To help you decide what content to use you should take a look at Google’s Keyword Tool which will allow you to see traffic volumes for keywords. This will allow you to create relevant content for your users and give you some ideas.
The first two steps are something you should take your time with, get them right, review your ideas and be confident that your ideas will work. Once you are feeling confident you should sit down and open a word document. Begin to write out the pages you will need to create and use bullet points to distinguish between main and sub headings. Focus the content around the funnel and for every page try to think of a way the page leads the user into the funnel. Make a side not of how each page directs the user to the funnel.
Choose a Colour Theme
Having a simple colour theme will help your users visually locate CTA’s as wellas navigate their way around the site. For some industries there is set colour theme’s such as the eco-friendly industry which is generally green, or engineering which is often blue. Don’t be afraid to go outside the box and choose a colour that will grab the users attention. Bright colours such as orange are very eye grabbing and memorable so I would recommend these. As a designer red is rarely a good colour to use as it is associated with danger. Pantone and Dulux predict digital colour trends and often have some great inspirational colours.
Excuse me for being clichéd but content is king. As a rule of thumb I would recommend that each page has at least 200+ words. The “Contact Us” page and similar pages like “Galleries” are okay,thin content is acceptable. Make the content engaging and above all don’t be afraid to splash out on some nice images. I have used Dollar Photo Club in the past which sells stock images at a reasonable price. If you are selling a product or you are a local business don’t forget pages such as “location” , “returns”, “terms and conditions” and a “privacy page”.
It all boils down to this page, the page where your user enters their e-mail address, credit card details or picks up the phone. There are some sciences too designing this page but after you’ve research your audience, competition and your own gut feeling it should come naturally as to what is best to place on this page. You may need call too actions or it might be best to leave it minimal so your users can clearly see what they are meant to do. Have images ready if you are going to use them and know the content you are going to place on the page. You can A/B test different pages once your site goes live on this platform .
Depending on what your needs are will determine what sort of platform you use. A lot of SME’s and personal sites are usually built on CMS’s (content management systems) which allows the companies to easily create new content. CMS’s tend to have a slow load time and can quickly get out of hand when inexperienced people try to create multiple new pages. Sometimes it’s best to leave the professionals do their job and more often than not the result pays off.
From my experience working with many different hosting companies, I have a few tips for you! Make sure there is 24/7 support with 100% up time. There are many reasons why you really don’t want your hosting company to fail on you. The obvious being lost revenue and disappointed visitors. The maybe not so obvious is the Google bot visit. If a Google bot visits your site and the server is down there can be serious implications including a loss in rankings. Shared hosting is also a lot more vulnerable to viruses and hacks as well as being a lot slower so depending on your needs again you may want to invest in your own. Blacknight solutions are one of the hosting companies I use on a regular basis.