When advertising your business on the internet, you know you need to have a standout website. The ultimate in advertising, the internet reaches millions of potential customers, unlike other forms of advertising, so your website is your calling card. This is why web design is so important—not only to be aesthetically pleasing to the public at large, but to offer information, goods and services, and solutions. Every single element of your website has to be designed to achieve a specific goal. Web site design is a process; one that takes time, talent, and training. While many people feel they can put together a website themselves, it is a job best left to the professionals.
Expert web designers know that code, content management, and the technical fundamentals that make up a website are all key components, but most importantly, to create a great website, there are certain processes one must follow.
The first step is knowing what your client needs from their website; gathering information sets the tone. What is the purpose they are trying to fulfill? Is it for entertainment purposes, information, or to sell a product? To understand how to put together the website for its best usage, knowing the website’s ultimate purpose is imperative to assist your client. Depending upon what the client wants a needs, two to three measurable goals should be detailed in an outline.
An open dialogue with the client is the optimum way to determine their needs and their desires for the website. The goal can morph and change; it is important as a web designer to be adaptable. This step in the process might be the most important of them all; clearly defined goals will help to make sure the website is successful. This will also ensure the website hits the target audience and establish a brand.
Once goals have been established, the web designer can figure the what the job entails, and what to include on the pages. The designer will then put together a sitemap, also known as a list of all the main topics located on the site, that connects the content, the photographs and other information so it is easily located. The sitemap is the guide that weaves the relationship between the website’s pages and content. The wireframe stores all the design elements in the website, and can help identify and problems with the sitemap. While putting together all the key elements, this is the time when the client should determine which technologies they would like to use on their website. The end result of this step should be an easy to use website.
From here, the content is added. This content should be geared towards the client’s goal—whether that is steering the reader to purchase something or just provide information, the content is what drives the website. The writing must be engaging and informative, even fun, if necessary, to hold the attention of the reader. The verbiage should motivate the target audience while setting the client apart from any of their competitors.
Now that the sitemap and content are in place, the web designer will want to make sure the site is visually appealing. It is important that the web designer be cognizant of the typesetting, colors, and photographs and pictures because while the content may be stellar, if it is not presented in an aesthetically pleasing manner, the reader will not stay on the website for any amount of time. The website designer must also keep in mind that search engine optimization (SEO) will also play a large part in people finding the website, so keyword placement and usage is key in design. This will help the website rank in searches. Any pictures or visual content that are added should correlate with the written content and help define the client’s brand. Images can give a website a professional appearance and entice the reader to stay. Visually stunning websites draw readers and make the website easier to read, easier to digest.
Once everything is put together, it is important for the web designer to test the website for content, broken links, and to test the user experience. Each page should be tested to ensure it loads properly on all devices and browsers. This gives the web designer the opportunity to fix any problems before the site goes live.
Everything works? Client is happy with the presentation? It’s time to launch! When the site goes live, the web designer should make sure that the site is functioning properly, it is easy to navigate, and the content and design are pleasing to the eye. Adjustments are inevitable. And while many people believe this is the end of the process, it is just the beginning! While the site may be up and running, it will need updated content, tweaking, and keyword tracking will be necessary. Updated content will help the website rank in search engine optimization and will entice repeat visitors to return to see what is new while also drawing new viewers. Maintenance is an integral part of web design!
Finding a quality web designer takes time, but it is well spent if you can find someone who can make an engaging website. There are many factors included in web design and many processes that are included along the way. As a business owner, asking questions and setting measurable expectations will help you to achieve the goal you set forth for your website. Remember, too, that this website is a reflection on your business and it should set the tone and the expectation for your viewers. A website for a defense attorney will be very different in content and attitude than a website for a clown school, so make sure your company’s culture is reflected in your online presence. With so many people visiting the internet on a daily basis, taking a chance on an unprofessional, sloppy website appearance will only wind up costing you customers in the long run. It is a much better plan to spend the money to have a professional create an exciting and informative website.