Your website design is an important part of your brand strategy. The website is often the first impression people will get about your brand, company, products, and services. The goal is for your website to instantly and clearly communicates your brand promise, who you are, what you offer, and how you can help visitors.
Good web design process begins with research. You want to study your audience, competitors, industry, and your company brand.
Performing research will provide a lot of inspiration and save you time when you being to design the website.
The key is start with the audience. Everything starts with the audience and builds from there.
Define your target audience and create a detailed profile of the people who make up that audience.
Determine what information your site visitors will expect to find on your site. For example, your website has to have a phone number if part of your brand promise is 24-hour service.
Make a list of everything you would expect from your website if you were the potential customer.
You also want to consider style your visitors expect. If you’re a fitness trainer, people expect to feel as if you will motivate them and get results. They expect energy and passion. If you’re an artist, they will want to see your work.
Competitors are important part of the planning process. You always want to have one eye on the competition.
Researching your competitors’ websites will help you create a website that is different and better for users. (Never forget the users.)
Find your competitors’ websites and analyze the content and features on those sites. Review layouts, the navigation, colors, and messaging. Look for what competitors websites have in common. And look for places where they fall short because those might be your opportunity.
Now you are going to make two lists. The first is things on competitor websites you think were good for users. These are things you may want to copy. The second list are things that annoyed you. These are things you want to avoid on your website.
Using the information you gather, you can design a website that meets visitor expectations and tells them why they should buy from you rather than your competitors.
Your website design should take into account industry trends. This is particularly important as it relates to technology trends. Does your audience expect to find video on websites in your industry? Do they engage with companies and brands in your industry on Facebook or Twitter? If so, you need to incorporate these features into your website.
Your final step is to review your own brand promise. Your website has to fit inside the brand. Don’t worry, there is plenty you can do to make your website great. Review your brand promise and image. Should your site be more formal or fun based on that brand promise and image? Is yours a highly technical brand? If so, visitors will expect a cutting-edge website design.
Let’s recap. At this point, you should know:
That’s all valuable information.
The clarification step is most important in the process. This is when you to decide what information is absolutely necessary.
For each of the next steps, make sure to write your ideas in lists.
The first clarification is around content. What information is necessary? What information is nice to have?
The second clarification is around imagery. Obviously, you’ll have your logo. But make sure to use imagery that speaks to your audience, reinforces your brand and is different than your competitors.
The final clarification is something special. Try to find one thing your competitors don’t do and that your customer would value. Your research should help identify the possibilities.
Now, go back and revise your lists. The first draft is usually the worst. Each revision will make your websites stronger.
The more successfully you can differentiate your brand and products from your competitors, the less competition you’ll have. When this happens, price takes a backseat in the purchase decision-making process. With the growth of price comparison sites online and instant conversations between consumers on the social web, finding a way to differentiate your brand in ways that don’t include price is a necessity.
Now you get to do the fun part and work on the website itself.
There are three primary ways communicates about your brand and company:
As you work through each, remember that your website should always match your brand.
The way you present content on your site is important.
In the previous step, you clarified what content is important. Now, you add some details to that content.
This time, make an outline. Take a idea from your list of necessary content. Now, add three to five important points you want to share with customers. Do this for each of your content ideas.
You will want to match imagery for each of your content ideas. You should have imagery ideas from the previous step.
You may need to break those sections into more specific sub-topics if you have a lot of content. Once you know your sections, you can create a diagram or outline showing the navigational structure of your website.
Think of navigation like signage on your website. It helps visitors get to the place they want to be, much like signs in a building.
Make sure your site offers easy navigation that follows your diagram. For example, include the most important links in a top navigation bar. This navigation will appear at the top of every page of your website.
If your site works well and is easy to use, consumers are more likely to trust your brand and make a purchase or contact you.
The appearance of your website is essential to differentiate your site from any other site and instantly communicate your brand image and promise.
Professional websites are typically clean with a lot of white space. Avoid the temptation to fit as much content as possible onto every page of your website. Cluttered sites are turn offs to visitors. If you have a lot of content, add additional pages.
Even if your business is extremely small, your website doesn’t have to look small. By creating a website that looks like it comes from a much larger company, your business benefits from an immediate boost in credibility based on visitor perceptions.
Your site should look great and work well. It’s important you website loads in a few seconds. Consumers aren’t willing to wait for sites to load these days.
Remember, first impressions can last a lifetime. Make sure your brand’s first impression is a good one with a great website design.