Website Design Tips

I do technology consulting for my clients.  I collect lists of customer requirements and provide ways to get the solutions the customer wants.  This type of work usually includes providing advice and quite often includes actually building products for the customer.  One of the services I often get called upon to provide is advice for a website.

Unfortunately working with websites and providing design assistance or actually creating the website myself means I get to experience a huge quantity of really crappy website designs.  This can be anything from a website that is totally unusable to just simple graphical issues and wording problems.  Since I experience bad and good websites so often I have actually built a quick checklist in my head for what needs to happen at a bare minimum before you have a website worth having.

Since I just love providing extra value to people here is just a small part of an extensive website assessment.  These assessments can range in cost from a few hundred to many many thousands of dollars.  Enjoy these totally free tips.

Purpose

Every website must have a purpose.  It could be to inform, to sell, to share information with friends and family.  You must have a purpose for your website, make sure that the number of purposes are kept to a minimum, ideally one.  When the number of jobs you are trying to do increases the chances that you do each of them poorly also increases.

Plan

How are you intending to get from your purpose statement to your goal.  Write a new blog post every day, introduce new products?  If you don’t have a plan you may get somewhere but that place may not be where you wanted to go.

Direction

Your site must be designed so that people can find there way from here to there.  If it takes twelve clicks to go from one place to the next logical place then you have a problem.  When a customer sees a product they should be able to buy that product without difficulty, same with every other part of the website.  A customer who is jumping through hoops is a customer who is going somewhere else.

Simplicity

Keep it simple stupid.  Sure you could use every piece of new technology to make your website the coolest place on the planet.  Chances are you don’t have enough money and it will decrease rather than increase your chances of success.  What is the simplest way to do what you want to do.  Do that, then over time expand upon it.  Take a quick look at Google’s homepage, then take a look at the one Yahoo! provides.  Sometimes the reason for success is actually much simpler than you think.

Information

Do your customers have to ask you questions when buying your products?  If so then you are not providing enough information about your products.  Gather information and place it in one easy to find location so that a customer can find what they are looking for without wasting their time.  People find that going somewhere else is easier than asking a question.  If you don’t have enough information for a buying decision available then you are likely to loose more customers than you will gain.

Fancy Graphics

Yup, of course you need these.  NOT. Graphics are not required to make a website work.  Actually the graphics that make up a website are some of the least important parts.  If your website doesn’t work, then graphics just makes it slow and crappy.  Good graphics make a good website into a great one, but it also makes a crappy website into a seriously frustrating experience.  Take another look at some of the most successful websites on the Internet, where are the fancy graphics?  Graphics accentuate a good design.  A design can also be killed by bad graphics, so worry more about the design of the website first, then worry about how you are going to make it look pretty.

Conclusion

You have just experienced a brief glimpse into my life.  You would be suprised how many companies forget to apply these basic principals that they would normally apply to any number of other ventures.  The basic principals that work are always going to remain the same, first build something worth having then put the finishing touches on to make it amazing.

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