Keys to Creating a Great Website

In the early days of the Internet, the title “web designer simply” referred to someone who made a website look good, as opposed to a website that was nothing more than plain text and hyperlinks. However, as the Internet has evolved, the role of the web designer has changed. While there are still web designers who cling to this early definition of the job, the best web designers are taking a more holistic approach to their work. They realize that designing a great website requires more than creating something that looks pretty. In order to create a truly great website, I firmly believe that web designers need to take the following six elements into consideration:

Why are you creating a design?
Before you fire up Photoshop, you need to take a step back and think about why you are creating a design. If you don’t take time to identify the purpose of your design, I can guarantee it won’t be as successful as if you did take the time to understand the true purpose(s) of the website you are designing. If you are doing a re-design, this stage of the process is just (if not more) as important.

Who are you creating a design for?
While your first answer to this question may be “my client,” that is a short sided view. You need to look beyond your client and identify the users who are going to be browsing the website you are creating. This stage is a lot more important than you may realize. For example, what’s expected from younger users may be totally overwhelming to older users who are visiting a website.

What message are you trying to convey?
This is the branding stage of the design process. However, it’s important to understand that branding is more than matching the color scheme of a website to a logo. A brand is the way a company conveys its message, and one of the most powerful ways to accomplish this goal is by using the design of a website to convey that desired message.

Put the first three questions into action.
Once you have answered all three of the above questions, it’s important that you actually take action on the information you have obtained. While it may be tempting to simply answer those three questions and then go on designing, it is imperative that you consciously keep all three of those factors in mind as you are creating every element of the design for a website.

Get feedback.
Whether it’s an analytics program or a user survey, it’s important to get actionable feedback on the design that you create. Even when you follow the first three steps and then put them into action during the fourth stage of the process, there may still be things that you missed (or misinterpreted), so it’s very important to collect data that you can analyze and act on.

Take baby steps.
While there will undoubtedly be changes that you need to make, it’s important to make minor adjustments and then remeasure. While it may be tempting to make a bunch of major changes right after reviewing your data, it is much more effective to make little changes and then take time to see how they impact the data that you collect.

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