Making Your Website Work for You

Aesthetics are an important part of website design. However, simply having a beautiful website isn’t enough. You also need it to be functional. There are some key questions you should ask yourself in regard to your website.

Does it compel a visitor to buy? to donate? to call? to participate?
Does it tell your story?
Can people find it? Are they coming back? Are they telling their friends?

Like any function of your business, a website has goals that can be measured. If these goals aren’t a part of the design process, your website won’t be effective.

Let’s take a look at the all too common “process” behind web design.

You know you want a home page, an about us page and a contact us page. A sitemap is created. There’s a designer who creates a couple of designs for you to look at. You choose one. There’s a programmer who turns the design into a live website. And there’s your website.

Now, let’s briefly look at what an in-depth process might look like.

The goals and objectives of the site are defined. Audiences are identified. Features and requirements are prioritized. Your brand positioning is created or studied, influencing both content and design. A content strategy is formed and a sitemap is developed. Content is written with the end goals and story being told in mind. Inspirational design might be collected. Sketches and/or prototypes are made to look at how the pieces might look, feel and work together on the site. Design comps are created for review. A development site is built and then revised. Finally, the site is ready to go live. Results are measured and evaluated. The whole process is a collaboration of client, audience, designer and developer.

It’s pretty easy to see which might be more valuable to your business.

The development of a website is a process that begins with an examination of objective and ends with analysis of result. It accounts for your brand, your audience and your needs. It looks at the smallest piece of the website that will help achieve your goal – the donate page, the news story, the contact form, the buy button – and builds up from there. Skip steps, and you’ll be doing it again when and if the budget allows. Do it right, and it’s a both beautiful and effective asset for your business.

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