When it comes to designing a website, one can easily get carried away with the looks: the right shade of green, the best typography, the right size of photos in the gallery (this is not really a question, photos should be XL)… But there are more important things to worry about.
But there are more important things to worry about. Here are 5 lessons that we’ve learned from designing and developing websites for big business, recently for one Croatian telecom company (the list could go on and on, of course… these are just highlights that can help you be more efficient and avoid problems…):
Be organized and make a plan
In big organizations we get to talk and listen to different people (head of marketing, IT specialist, legal department officer, C-level executive…) with different ideas and requests (often contradictory) so we need to stay focused and keep the project on track. And how do we do that? We make a plan and we make sure that everybody agrees with it! (It’s also crucial to have a point of contact at the firm, a person who represents the client’s organization, is responsible for the project, understands the web and can make decisions.)
Set your goals
In our plan, we define a tight set of goals and we ask our client to answer one simple question: What do you want from your website? It is important to agree on what the website should do! Why? Because we will very likely start getting confusing requests and this will help us stay on track. Once the team agrees on key results, we have a way to measure disagreements that might arise (does this feature really support our goals? If no, we’ll work on it some other time.)
Prepare copy in advance
We usually try to prepare copy for each page: product, landing, help… prior to the designing and developing process. Copy helps visitors/customers decide what action they should take next, and it also helps designers do their work. Mockups can look great when we have absolute control over them, but when actual data is imported things can change a bit, so it’s better to prepare for real-life conditions in advance.
Know your audience and your users
We talk to our clients about their audience and users a lot. We usually take a sheet of paper and write down what audience they want to target.
We make personas which help us set the tone and define user journeys.
Design with user experience in mind
We try not to react to every business and marketing requirements. Website is not a tool that helps to achieve marketing goals of the company. It’s a tool that should help customers achieve their goals, so we have to make sure our website’s design is optimized for usability (easy to use) and user experience (enjoyable for interaction) and there is only one formula for good user experience = knowing your customers + knowing why they are here.
After these (any many other) steps, we finally get to start designing and developing. If we want to make sure that we’ll do it right, there are few basic rules to follow:
- Keep it simple
- Use visual hierarchy
- Make it easy to navigate
- Try to be consistent
- Stick to web design conventions (that users are familiar with)
- Make it responsive (accessible on different devices
And this is not the end, because with digital properties, nothing is ever done :). After a website is launched and live, we start monitoring and if the results are not what we’ve expected, we must be prepared to change. There is no room for egos!