What makes an effective web design
There are many factors to consider the the design of a business website. We take the time to sit down with our clients to discuss the following topics, among other issues.
It is our opinion that most customers that we deal with will best be served by using a pre-designed website design commonly referred to as a template or skin. By not having to develop a totally unique solution we can better control the costs associated with building a website. We take these pre-built templates, which are specific to the development platform we are using, and then do the work to tailor them to the look desired by our clients. This strategy is much more cost effective in our view.
There are literally thousands of templates to choose from and the likelihood that a clients site will be recognized as looking like another site in their local area and/or their industry is remote. This is the reason that we feel comfortable in this approach.
It is essential to define the purpose of the website as one of the first steps in the planning process. A purpose statement should show focus based on what the website will accomplish and what the users will get from it. A clearly defined purpose will help the rest of the planning process as the audience is identified and the content of the site is developed. Setting short and long term goals for the website will help make the purpose clear and plan for the future when expansion, modification, and improvement will take place. Goal setting practices and measurable objectives should be identified to track the progress of the site and determine success.
Defining the audience is a key step in the website planning process. The audience is the group of people who are expected to visit your website â€“ the market being targeted. These people will be viewing the website for a specific reason and it is important to know exactly what they are looking for when they visit the site. A clearly defined purpose or goal of the site as well as an understanding of what visitors want to do or feel when they come to your site will help to identify the target audience. Upon considering who is most likely to need or use the content, a list of characteristics common to the users such as:
- Audience Characteristics
- Information Preferences
- Computer Specifications
- Web Experience
Taking into account the characteristics of the audience will allow an effective website to be created that will deliver the desired content to the target audience.
Content evaluation and organization requires that the purpose of the website be clearly defined. Collecting a list of the necessary content then organizing it according to the audience's needs is a key step in website planning. In the process of gathering the content being offered, any items that do not support the defined purpose or accomplish target audience objectives should be removed. It is a good idea to test the content and purpose on a focus group and compare the offerings to the audience needs. The next step is to organize the basic information structure by categorizing the content and organizing it according to user needs. Each category should be named with a concise and descriptive title that will become a link on the website. Planning for the site's content ensures that the wants or needs of the target audience and the purpose of the site will be fulfilled.
Documentation is used to visually plan the site while taking into account the purpose, audience and content, to design the site structure, content and interactions that are most suitable for the website. Documentation may be considered a prototype for the website â€“ a model which allows the website layout to be reviewed, resulting in suggested changes, improvements and/or enhancements. This review process increases the likelihood of success of the website.
The first step, mostly in complex websites, may involve information architecture in which the content is categorized and the information structure is formulated. The information structure is used to develop a document or visual diagram called a site map. This creates a visual of how the web pages or content will be interconnected, and may help in deciding what content will be placed on what pages.