When designing a website, there is a range of things to consider. First and foremost, you have to determine the intention behind the website, which will later be the basis for what the website will look like. If the website’s intention is to inform, it will look completely different than if the intention is to sell. This is a fundamental first step before you can actually start designing your website.
When the intention is clearly defined, the design work starts. The design is an important part of the website, and statistics show that 38% stop engaging in a website where content or layout is seen as unattractive. The credibility of the website is also affected by the design. A well-built and structured website, therefore, increases your credibility and the website’s traffic.
Despite the advantage of creativity, there are also other attributes that make a website stand out and make visitors wanting to stay on site. We have listed 5 fundamental tips on how to succeed in designing a great website.
1. Your website is a sales presentation
The first thing you should do is answering some simple questions:
- Who are you presenting to?
- What do you want your visitors to do on your website?
- Which impression would you like to leave?
You should see your website as a presentation and as an important sales and marketing tool. Why not go to a sales meeting and show your website while you’re talking, instead of having a complete different Keynote or PowerPoint presentation? If you feel the need to have both a presentation and a website, your website is most likely not doing a good enough job. This mindset is a good way to assemble communication within the company, as there is only one source of information and not 40 different ways to present the company.
The problem that many people face, is that they want to present to many different audiences at the same time. This could be anything from potential clients, potential employees, partners or investors. Most companies would first and foremost like to communicate with their clients, but if you want to communicate to multiple stakeholders, there is one fundamental rule: be clear about who you’re talking to on your website. One way to do this is to use sub-pages to communicate with different audiences. This will make your website easy to navigate while giving the impression of a structured company. Whatever you do, don’t compile all the information in one place.
2. Prioritise the information architecture
Of course, you want your website to look good, but it’s important to not get lost in the visual and forget about the functional. Focus first and foremost on the UX design of the website. Assess and decide which pages you need, which sections that are needed on each page, and what intent every page and section has.
What most people do wrong is starting with high-resolution sketches of the website before they even know what the information hierarchy is going to look like. If you don’t know what the intent of the website is going to be, you’re wasting time as you have spent resources on something that is not even near looking like the end result. Instead, start making a plan in low-resolution prototypes and use test them before you land on the final information architecture.
Until the information architecture is set, you don’t need to care about creating every section of the website in high-resolution. You can also use test different visual styles as a separate part of the website development. To test the visual language, you could choose to focus on just one sketch. This is often the website’s landing page, or even limited to just the top part of the landing page. However, do start with the information architecture, these are details that you can get into later.
3. Update your website
Your website should be constantly developing based on new insights, information and the development of your company and your products or services. Way too many companies create websites that are not updated or changed in years, to then just develop a new one instead of updating the old one. Having a website that is continuously updated gives the impression of a company that is up to date and organised. An updated website also gives visitors a reason to come back.
Instead of designing a static website, you should create a visual template that is unaffected by the actual content on the website. In this way, you can easily edit, remove or add new content and change the information hierarchy, without changing the entire design system. This is how most great websites (as a dynamic product) are built.
However, this does presume that you have specific resources in form of a web developer, within the company or externally. This should be a person within marketing, who is constantly monitoring analytics and data (quantitative feedback), as well as use tests and consumer insights (qualitative feedback).
4. Utilise proven methods
There are billions of websites out there, and there is even more data and research supporting what works on websites and what doesn’t. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, base your UX and UI design on methods that have been proven to work over the years.
Your website is not for you, it’s for the audience who reads it. Put your personal opinions to the side, so that your own beliefs do not overshadow data coming from consumer insights. This being said, if you mean that your website should be blue, this decision should be based on the fact that your customers love blue - not because you do.
5. Let a professional do the job
It’s pretty easy building a website on your own using modern tools, such as Squarespace, Webflow or Strikingly. But if you’re not a professional, and you’re doing this for the first time, the result is probably not going to be great. Your website is one of your most valuable resources and plays a major part in how your company is perceived by others. Would you want a random person to conduct a heart procedure on someone you love, just because they had the right tools? Probably not.
Some may argue that using a professional to design the website is too costly. Think about this instead:
Using your own time to develop a website on your own is also going to be costly for the company in terms of time and pay. What you’re actually doing is wasting time on something that you’re not good at, which means that the end result is not going to be great, and all you’ve really done is waste time. This is not cost-effective, even if it initially seems that way. Use this argument with your boss to make room in the budget - and leave the job to someone who knows what they’re doing.