A well-designed website is the key to unlock the doors of marketing success. It cannot be stressed enough how important design is for attracting business, building customer loyalty and projecting a sense of authenticity and credibility. Great design is not just about technical excellence; it is also about how well it integrates content, technology and the business goals of the company. In effect, a good website design always stays true to the company’s principles and strategy, while taking care of the everyday essentials efficiently.
That said, every designer has his favourite process of design and that is fine as long as the design process he adopts is time efficient and results in successful business workflow. A design process ideally ensures that the designer has ample time to plan his project, break it down, analyse and ultimately ensure a successful outcome.
Let us now examine how a fresh designer can follow a few easy steps for a successful website design.
Identify and execute your web designing goals
The first thing to identify is the focus of the website. What is its purpose? What are the business goals of the company you are designing for? The answers to these vital questions must form the foundation of your design. For this to occur, you need to thoroughly understand your client's needs. There ought to be a lot of back and forth between you and your client so that you have the complete information in your hand and thus are able to visualise his needs.
Focus on the scope of the website
The next logical step is the actual researching, sketching and designing of the website. Many designers make the mistake of jumping to Photoshop and feverishly designing before understanding the scope of the project at hand. Designing will be much more effective if designers first sit down to understand what pages and features the website needs, the timeline for building these and which specific elements the design should focus on (such as a shopping microsite for an online store or a subscriber password etc.)
Have a well-defined sitemap in place
Once you have a clear idea of the goals of the company and the scope of the actual web design, it is time to start mapping out the sections of the website. A hand drawing, experts say, is the best way to determine website hierarchy, how sections can be connected to each other and how best to place the various interactive elements.
This is also the time to set up the wireframe for the website -- wireframes must ideally avoid any design elements and stick to determining the layout without any frills.
Know your content
Websites are driven by content. Often people leave the content till the end and then wonder why the content they provide is not fitting with the structure of the website. A great web design will have all its content in place before the design commences. It is also good to remember that the content must be search optimized.
Bring the visual alive
Now that the site architecture has been fixed, it is time to work on the visual branding of the website. Though the client plays a large role in defining what he wants the ‘look’ of the website to be, it is up to the designer to pick the right elements from the ground up – from style tiles to collages to moodboards – and work efficiently to bring the client's vision to fruition.
Test before launch
A thorough testing of all features is absolutely essential before the website is launched. For this testing, it is crucial to combine both manual browsing and automated site crawlers so that any potential issue, be that may be user experience or broken links, are identified. Once this is done, it is time for the launch. But the timing of the launch has to be strategized as should the communication about it.