How to Avoid Website Design Disasters

How to Avoid Website Design Disasters
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How to Avoid Website Design Disasters

5 Ways to Avoid Website Design Disasters

With the omnipresence of websites and the Internet, you would think we would all know how to specify and design a productive website. If that was the case, we would be out of business. There are still some very poor websites around which are the result of poor design brief and lack of focus on usability, traffic generation, and user experience.

How do you avoid Website Disasters?

The best way to avoid a website design disaster, is to understand what a website is not! Yes you heard right. First you must understand what a website is not for, before you can create a good website. It never fails to amaze me how many “Website Briefs” I see, that show people still do not get websites.

These briefs are really brief! Data Protection and good manners prevents me to share them with you, but here is a general gist:

We want an attractive website with “X” number of pages, slider at the top, contact page, product page, and about us page!

This is all we have to go with, so no information about what kind of market, kind of products, segmentation, target customer, target keywords, number of products, ability to order online or not, example of websites they like or a design brief!! So not a lot of thought gone into this one, and probably thought up whilst stock in a traffic jam somewhere.

1. Website is not a brochure

2. Website is not a candidate for a literature prize

Everyone expects website content to be without spelling mistake and make sense, but nobody is going to read all that writing and word-smithing. Average stay on a website home page is 15 second with average time on secondary pages around 35 seconds. So forget all that wannabe Shakespearian attempts and get to the point. You don’t have much time. This is speed-dating!

3. Websites are not technical showcases

Remember the old saying of KISS? Same applies to website design and functionality. So no moving flash images, no music (oh please god No, No, No), and no funky navigation keys. Remember your website frontend design is like a joke, if you have to explain it then it is not funny. Average click on a website is 3 click and exit, so any key subject/product must not be beyond 3 (obvious) clicks.

4. Websites are not just about form

Of course your website must look professional, have style and panache, but you must first aim for attracting traffic and functionality if you want your website to produce revenue or leads. It must be easy to navigate, logical in structure, information should be readily available, navigation must make sense to visitors and Search Engines.

In order to get your functionality right follow these steps:

  • Think about what information people look for and put the most important information right in front of them (1 click from homepage).
  • Think how potential clients search, and align your subject matters, navigation labels, and content with these keywords.
  • Avoid internal jargon. As this term implies internal jargon is “INTENRAL” and nobody outside will understand them or search for them.
  • Avoid chucking every document and information you have in the company at the website. You make it crowded, irrelevant and difficult to find the real information. You are not Wikipedia.
  • Before you amass mountains of content you need to start with your target keywords. Don’t randomly select keywords as your customers may not be thinking or searching the way you expect. Do some research and find out the volumes of search for these keywords. It is no good being Number 1 in Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for keywords that nobody searches for.

5. Website functionality is not just about where we put pretty buttons

Good design is not just about the colour, widgets and where pretty buttons go. Good design is driven by content and logical structure. Grouping subjects under logical headings which in turn allows you to create logical navigation. This is key to ease of navigation and functionality.

To get your functionality correct follow these steps:

  • Discover search volumes for keywords and keyphrases that people actually use (yes this is the second time I have said it! Without SEO built in design, your website will be a very lonely place).
  • Select the ones that are most relevant to your product or service offer.
  • Create content that match these keywords/keyphrases.
  • Group the content into logical order.
  • Create navigation keys that reflect these headings.

Last piece of advice!

Lastly, but most importantly, do not expect people with specific skills to be able to excel at other tasks (the Jack of all Trades and Master of None Brigade). You have creative people and you have excellent code writers. Very rarely would you come across one that can do both. In all the years of being involved in website projects, I have only come across one person that can do both tasks. The chances of you coming across “The One” is near zero.

  • Get a professional to create a brief for your website design. DIY briefs inevitably focus on aesthetics rather than function. It is also unlikely that you have access to quality information such as keyword search volumes.
  • Get a creative person to design the look and feel of your website based on the design brief. This is usually done in PSD or Photoshop. No need for coding skills here.
  • Find a code writer to code your site based on the design brief and as per graphical design.
  • Remember “if you think a professional is expensive, wait until you use an amateur“!

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