Plenty of folks think that web design is all about slapping some words and pictures together and posting them online. You can do that and get a site, but it will not be an asset to your business if it looks amateurish and doesn’t have the functionality it needs.
Good web design involves a lot of work – much of it taking place before even one line of code is written! You must:
- Work out navigational issues. You want to make sure that your customers and clients can easily find what they are looking for. You have to figure out what customers and clients are looking for on your web site – and then make sure that they can find what they need easily. This helps ensure that clients are perfectly happy with your web site.
- Work out usability issues. You want your web site to be easily accessible to everyone, which is why you have to make sure that it works for vision impaired and hearing impaired users as well. Consider all the possibilities – that someone is viewing your site on a tiny cell phone, on a slow Internet connection, or on an obscure computer system.
- Study the marketplace. It’s important to know how your customers and clients tick. That’s why people do market research to find out what their customers are thinking. They study the market, so that they know what sells (and doesn’t) in that particular field.
- Construct a competitive analysis. Find out what others in your industry are doing so that you can use the same success strategies – and avoid the same pitfalls. That way, your customers never have to learn by trial-and-error.
- Consider your existing brand, logo, collateral, and primary audience. Take into account your budget, who your customers are, and what your business is all about.
- When designing, use all the tools necessary. HTML, CSS, PHP, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver (and lots of caffeine!) – do use all the latest and most established technology to create a web site that is visually appealing and yet fully functional.
- Test and re-test. Once the site is designed, test it under all sorts of conditions – on old computers, strange operating systems, at weird hours. Try to do everything possible to ensure that the site is free of bugs, and that it works perfectly under the weirdest conditions. After all, some folks are still using old computers and browsers, it would be a shame to lose an order from a customer using a 1990 laptop somewhere in cottage country.
- Make sure that the site works for the business. Make sure that your web site is easy to promote. Can the site be updated with minimal fuss? Does the SEO work to keep a steady stream of customers coming? Add the site address to business cards and brochures, add it to the company letterhead – make sure people know about it!