Coming up with a plan before you start designing a web page is important. Really important. Far too many web designers these days simply jump straight into a project without any real direction or a plan of how they want things to go. Don’t be one of them. Not having a plan is a big mistake. You need to know why you’re making design choices and how they will or won’t work for your customer base. This is important for both professional developers and people who are just throwing up their first website.
Not only do your design choices have a big impact on how your website looks, they’ll also affect how it feels and most importantly—how it performs. If you want to maximise leads and sales, you need a layout and design that’s working for you rather than against you. To do that, you need to think about more than just the look of your site. In this article, we’re going to look at a checklist of important things to remember when coming up with design ideas and building a website. Follow these steps closely, and you should be in a much better position to build a website that works for you rather than against you. Ultimately, one that converts more sales. Because that’s the ultimate aim, right?
The web design checklist
View things from your visitors’ perspective
The first thing you need to think about when designing a web page is you need to know WHO you’re designing it for. You really can’t afford this step. Too many designers come up with ideas that THEY like without thinking about how the specific audience or type of visitor you attract is going to react to them. So try and see things from their perspective.
And remember, different types of visitors have different demands, needs and tastes when it comes to designs and layouts. You need to bear these in mind all the way through the process. The user experience has to be finely tuned for the sort of visitor you’re going to get. How old are they? How much money do they have? How good are they with computers? What do they REALLY want from a website?
Especially as moderns techniques improve all the time, some web designers are too caught up with trends and gimmicks without thinking about if they’re really going to work for the right visitors. Think about an older web user, someone who hasn’t grown up with the internet and still makes a few mistakes. Some of the latest design tricks might confuse or distract them. They might not even know where to click if links aren’t obvious. This sort of thing can lose you visitors. Ultimately, it can lose you money.
Come up with buyer personas
The next step in viewing things from your users’ perspective is to come up with buyer personas. These are generic personas of the sort of people who’re likely to use your site, and the sort of people you want to appeal to. Always keep these people in mind when you make design decisions so that you can come up with the best web page design that works for them.
Be careful when designing content
Not all sorts of content work for everyone. Videos are a big hit these days, but do they fit what your buyer personas are looking for? Some people still prefer raw text content. All these things have to be carefully considered. Even things like fonts, images and more need to be drilled down on. Images are important, but don’t overload people with too many. This can slow your site down as well, which is a big no-no. Make sure you keep things unique, fast-loading and compelling wherever possible.
Another important step when coming up with a site design and layout is testing. Simple A/B tests can help you a lot, but far too many designers ignore them. You might THINK you know what’s going to work best for your specific buyer personas, but you won’t really KNOW unless you’ve got the data to back it up. So run A/B tests and see which perform best for your site. Don’t make the mistake of assuming anything.
Be careful with CTAs
CTAs or Calls to Action are super important for your website. That’s where you try and get someone to take action, whether it’s like you on Facebook, sign up to your newsletter, opt-in for a free report or actually purchase something on your site. Everything should be pointing towards your main CTA, but without bombarding your visitors or spamming them too much.
Avoid pop-ups on entry, as these can put people off. Carefully placed exit pop-ups can be an option as a last resort in trying to convert someone who’s clicking away anyway. Try and make your CTAs and offers time-sensitive so people feel like they have to act soon. Make sure you don’t bury your CTA or have people guessing what you want them to do next. Keep your calls to action clear and away from distractions. Additional ads on your site can be good for a bit of extra money, but not if they’re distracting clicks from your main offers or CTAs.
Another mistake designers make these days is not having a theme that runs through the whole site. If you’ve got one color-scheme on one page, it should be on all of them. People get confused if you don’t keep things consistent, and it dilutes your brand. Keep consistent and avoid mistakes.
Use focus groups
It’s good to get a bit more perspective from visitors and groups of normal people. Try using focus groups to give you a few ideas and tips that you might not have thought of. Again, other people will have a different perspective on your site that you might not have thought of. Use these perspectives to your advantage.
Hopefully these tips have been enough to get you started. Follow this checklist and you should have a much better website by the end of it.
Jamie FitzHenry is the founder of Grizzly, a Web Design Agency based in Bristol, the UK that specialises in helping businesses enhance their online presence.