I get a lot of questions from small businesses asking “how to design a web site”. Most of the questions center around the design and technical aspects of their Web building wishes.
However, there’s never any initiation on their part about:
- Who the audience is?
- What platform and speed of Internet access does the audience have?
- What will the Web site be used for?
- Who will create the Web site?
These types of questions are the some of the first question to ask when considering the creation of a Web site – or the re-doing of an existing one.
The many advertisements that we are constantly bombarded with – both online and off-line – call our attention to create a Web site, free web hosting, unlimited email address and etc. Although these features are nice and even necessary, it’s far more important to carefully think and plan about your Web site, before you even touch a mouse.
Who is your audience?
Is it for your customers? For your employees? For partners?
Either way, solicit the advice of your intended audience as you think of creating your Web site. They can give you insight into the things that are most important to THEM. You may being trying to put in some fancy live chat feature and they could care less about it.
Also – how technically savvy are they. Is your audience a bunch of tech gurus – or 100% tech il-literate political science scholars?
It matters – notice you see how CNet’s Web site is chock full of information and is perfectly designed for geek self starters. But take a look at Inc.com it’s a lot simpler and easier to navigate.
What platform or speed of Internet access does your audience have?
This is a cousin to my first point above. If your audience is not using fast Internet connections, you DO NOT want to put some fat, slow downloading graphic image on the first page of your Web site.
If you’re selling clothing and graphics are important – then put smaller thumb nail images, with the option for users to view larger images if they want.
Now of course if your audience will be visiting your audience with a fire hosed size connection – then by all means razzle and dazzle them with vivid images – IF YOU MUST 😉
With the increasing usage of mobile devices, it is important that your website must render well in mobile and tablet devices. Whether you create a mobile version of your site, an app, or use responsive web design, thinking how your site looks across multiple devices is a key element of web design today.
What will the Web site be used for?
This question is probably one of the most important questions to ask. If you are selling items from your Web site it is SO important – this can affect your revenue – that users are able to easily and quickly find what they are looking for, and easily purchase the product.
Of course great customer service, just as if they walked into a retail store is equally important. If you’ve got a Web site whose primary purpose is for your customers to better interact with you, track the status of projects and etc – then it’s very important that you enable them to get the information they need as fast and as comprehensive as possible. If they call you – the system(s) you use in-house should be the same or directly connected to the same one your customers use.
Maybe you’re creating a web site to enhance communication for your virtual work force. Well fast communication, document updates and other collaborative features are very important.
Who will create the Web site?
It’s very tempting to save a few (or a lot) dollars and try to do the Web site yourself. There are many options one can use for designing their own Web sites. From those you purchase and manually install on your computer, to those you access via the Internet.
To do your Web site properly expect to spend from $3,000 on up for a very well designed Web site with some good collaborative tools and enhanced features.
In this article I’m not at all trying to give a “Bible” for Web creation, but to help you understand that the most important aspect of Web site design is NOT the technology, but the careful planning and thinking of its creation. In creating your website, it is essential to avoid these common mistakes:
- Mistake 1: Putting form before function
- Mistake 2: Simply putting your company brochure online.
- Mistake 3: Having features that don’t work properly
- Mistake 4: Making life difficult for users.
- Mistake 5: Making it hard for people to buy.
- Mistake 6: Inadequately measuring the bottom-line impact.