Top 10 To-Do’s Before Starting A Web Design Project
Thinking of taking a stab at website design? It sounds like a straightforward enough undertaking, but if you want it to be successful, there are actually many things to consider before you start. Here are our top 10 tips to keep in mind before starting your website design project:
Establish the purpose of your website and your target audience
Are you trying to sell a brand or product? Promoting your non-profit organization? What are the key elements of your content strategy? What’s the desired demographic of your target audience?
These are some of the questions you need to ask early on in the website design process to establish the direction your site will take. Your answers will be helpful in crafting a relevant, high-performing site. You wouldn’t bake a cake before deciding on the flavor; similarly, you shouldn’t embark on any website design before knowing what you want the site to accomplish.
Research other sites that you like
Checking out other sites offers a good basis for comparison when you start to think about what you find appealing about particular website designs and examine current trends. What is it you like most about these sites? Is it their website design? User experience? What makes one website stand out more than others? Gather inspiration from other websites (even your competitors!) to figure out what direction you might want to take in your own website design.
Decide on the timeline for your website design project and develop your strategy
Don’t underestimate the time it takes to design or redesign a website. It’s a big job. How much time do you have to complete your website design project? What can you reasonably get done in that amount of time? When working on your timeline, make sure that you’re fair, flexible and, perhaps most importantly, realistic with your expectations. You also must be upfront about this to whomever you’re reporting to, so that there’s no miscommunication about the process.
Focus on your branding – get your name out there!
Branding is arguably the most essential part of your website and must be a top priority in your website design. Users must know what organization they’re learning about immediately. Site visitors, leads and customers have to be able to associate your brand with your logo. Make sure your logo is clear and legible on your website. Spend some time designing it in such a way that it’s appealing and will be memorable to your audience. Generally, most companies put their logos in the upper left corner of a homepage, so keep that in mind when working on website design. Also, be consistent: if you have any printed materials (e.g., bags, flyers, shirts) they should all have the same logo as your website.
Change is inevitable, so stay flexible
Technology is constantly changing, along with consumer needs and wants. Trends in website design shift every few years, or sometimes even months. Be aware of these changes and stay on top of them. Revisit and update your content strategy regularly, and analyze your data and analytics so you can quickly make relevant revisions to your website design. And remember to produce new content frequently – people won’t read your blogs if there’s nothing new for them to read. Existing content should be updated and new content uploaded often – if you’re known to always provide fresh information to the public, they’ll be more motivated to find you online.
Content, content, content!
The content you provide will not only bring people to your site, it will keep them there for extended periods of time – if you deliver it effectively. Once again, think about who your target audience is. Would they be interested in the content you currently have to offer? Develop the content strategy element of your web design with this in mind. And remember to check, recheck and check again to see how your message comes across. Communication is receiver-oriented; you want to make sure that your audience is receiving the message you intend to send them. Be clear, intentional and consistent.
Pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO)
Just because your site has launched doesn’t mean that people will interact with it. Your website design has to draw them in, and SEO is a valuable tool in accomplishing this. When someone does a Google search with keywords that describe your organization, you want to be at the top of that search page. Most users don’t look beyond the first page of search results; in fact, they seldom even scroll past the top three! Google’s algorithms search for the most relevant content, based on both short and long tail keywords and the prevalence on your site. Google looks for these keywords in your URL, alt tags, meta tags, page titles, etc. The more attention you give to your SEO efforts in the website design stage, the more likely your site will appear on the first page in Google, which translates to more potential leads finding your website.
Invest in high-quality images
Pictures and other graphics are a vital part of website design. Humans are visual creatures, and your site visitors want to see what your company is up to! Include photos of your team, your product, your location and any variety of images that can enhance your written content. Whether you use stock photos or personal ones, make sure they’re top quality. High-quality resolution in your pictures shows your audience that you’re a professional, high-quality company.
Always include a Call to Action (CTA)
A Call to Action does exactly as its name suggests: it calls on the user to take action. Use CTAs in your website design to encourage site visitors to contact you or take another desired action. This demonstrates your interest in creating a relationship with visitors to your website. Tailor your CTAs to individual users, based on the information they’re accessing on your site. If someone has just found the website, encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter or fill out a contact form. If they’re already a subscriber, reach out for them to join your loyalty program if you have one. Ideally, your website design should include at least one CTA per site page.
Post About Your Business
Social media is an increasingly important component of an online presence. More and more, people are making contact via smartphones and other mobile devices, and your website design has to make this a top priority. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are where many, if not most people, will be connecting with you, and with careful website design these can be powerful marketing assets. Through social media, not only will you connect with a larger audience, promoters can endorse your brand themselves by reading your content and sharing it with others. Focus a substantial portion of your website design energy on social media, and be sure to track your engagement on all the platforms you decide to use.
Website design is about more than just the site itself. Investing in your website and expanding its reach will get more people interacting with your company on an ongoing basis. Developing relevant, interesting and helpful content builds trust with your audience and can ultimately turn them into loyal promoters of your brand.
If you’re still feeling a bit lost in the world of web design, check out The Beginner’s Guide to Web Design. This guide packs tons of great information into a straightforward, easy to consume format that can help you elevate your web design knowledge. And if you want to take it a step further, get in touch with us about how we can help grow your digital presence.
Whether it’s a new website design, a redesign, or a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, we’re passionate about helping our partners reach their goals. We’re proud to offer world-class web design and digital marketing services to businesses in South Carolina and throughout the United States.