There are plenty of articles that dive into what makes a great company website, but many forget the core fundamentals of the process and instead focus on the technical aspects. There’s more to a great website than its coding, platform and graphics. How it functions will determine its success rate, and that requires forethought and planning.
Read along to learn about the six stages of website design, and why each one is so vitally important in creating the proper user experience for your customers.
Many companies claim they want a website, but they haven’t a single idea about how it’s supposed to function, or what its main purpose will be. If you find yourself in this boat, don’t fret! It’s easy to assume that simply having an online presence is enough in our digital age. The truth is, your website needs to stand apart, and that means you’re going to have to get involved.
First, you must define the goals of your website, and what you wish to see it accomplish. While having an online presence will give customers a means to learn more about you, it should also work as a soft sales tool. Are you attempting to drive traffic, sales, or both? What would you like to see the website do for your company over the course of 6-12 months, and beyond? A competitive analysis can work wonders here, by giving you a little more context from which to move forward on.
#2) Outline Of Scope
The key to crafting a good website user experience is to put yourself in the shoes of multiple customer types. They’re not all visiting for the same reason, and that can have a dramatic effect on your overall design. The right website will cater to many different kinds of visitors, so it’s important to think ahead, and ascertain what they’ll do when they reach your site.
Break down your target customer base and section them off into sub-groups that you can cater to. If you’re selling products, you may put a lot of your focus on buying customers, but what about pushing a competitive edge in relation to your peers? Creating incentive to browse your site, learn about your corporate culture, and even job opportunities can help serve a diverse array of visitors who may have different reasons for showing up.
#3) Information Architecture
It’s never wise to enter the design phase of a website build without properly creating a site map. This hierarchical structure can help you branch off from your homepage and determine what sub-pages you can link to.
The key here is to maintain consistency and ease of use across your entire site. Too many pages can be overwhelming, while too little can stifle the impressiveness of the site, overall.
By creating a site map, you can quickly compartmentalize appropriate information into a nicely rounded set of pages that are easy to browse, informative to the viewer, and tidy.
Creating wireframe mockups of a site can quickly give you an idea of its layout and functionality. It helps to identify image and text placement, but don’t neglect the website header, either. This top-most section usually includes static links that visitors will use for main navigation to important sections of your site.
Overburdening your site with too many elements can cause chaos and drive visitors away, so it’s important to keep things neat, clean and well laid out. If your first wireframe sketch seems too busy, refine it with a secondary draft so you can reach a better level of balance. Not everyone is a designer, so if you need help, it pays to consult a digital marketing agency that understands the core tenants of good website design, and can custom tailor them to your company. That doesn’t mean your wireframes are worthless, however. Bring them in and share them with your digital marketing agency so they can understand your vision, and help shape it.
#5) Visual Mockups
This is where things start to get interesting! Visual mockups can be created by a graphic artist in a program like Photoshop, or a web mockup tool like Adobe XD. It’s good to have a seasoned expert lead the charge here, as they understand important criteria such as screen resolutions, colors and other technical requirements.
This mockup phase will help narrow down the final website design to the point where you’ll be ready to get started. Keep in mind that the design will most certainly change during the building process, but that will depend heavily on the accuracy of your mockup. Regardless, it’s vital to have a solid vision laid out before attempting to move forward with the building phase.
The end goal is to get as close as possible to your vision, and make the entire thing run like a well oiled machine. By adhering to these 6 steps, not only will you have a greater understanding of how websites work, but why they work that way. It might seem intimidating, but your input is vital in crafting a website that speaks directly to your visitors, from the heart and soul of the company.
We’re well versed in company website design, so if you’ve enjoyed this article and you’re interested in developing a site of your own, please contact us! We’ll be glad to help!