Eight tips to make your website a success

Dear potential customer that didn’t hire us,

Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. We talked about Sodium Halogen creating a website for your business, and it just didn’t make sense right now.

Well, we still want to make sure your website project is effective. So we’ve created a quick guide for you – Eight tips to make sure your web project is a success. Keep these things in mind when you select a web designer, and share these tips with them. 🙂

8-tips

Get to know your customers

It sounds shocking, but you don’t want to build a website for your company. You want to build a website for your customers. So figure out who they are. There are likely different types (ex: retailers, vendors, and online shoppers). Determine the wants and needs of each customer type, and then design the site to address their wants and needs. Before you start this web project, talk to your customers early and often.

Start with purpose

Now that you have determined who your customers are, figure out why they want to visit or use your site. Answer these questions for each page first.

  • What is most important thing on each page?
  • What do you want the user to do on each page?
  • What is your Call to Action (CTA) for each page?

Only after you have answered these questions should you write the content and then design each web page.

Content first

Websites are not pretty paintings, they are more like picture frames. Your customers are coming to your site to accomplish a task (ex: find store hours, request information, buy now). So make sure you write the content for the major page before you start designing or building. Are there image that can communicate your message for this page? Then gather the images and text for each page. Start early in the web development process because this is hard work.

Make sure you write to your customers and address their wants and needs.

Psychology > technology

There are lots of people who know how to build a website. That high school kid down the street knows how (and good for her). You want to make sure you find someone who understands the why of a website.

A beautiful and cool site that doesn’t move the user to action is a waste of your money and a missed opportunity.

Sketch it out first

Before your designer opens up software to design your new site, make sure the main pages are sketched out first. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it’s about thinking through how the pages will work. Here is a post on the subject.

Mobile-minded

We are seeing from most of our clients that right around 50% of people visiting their sites are visiting on phones or tablets. Make sure your site is designed to be responsive (Google the term “responsive design”). This will help make sure your site is not just effective on your laptop.

People don’t read

It’s true that people don’t read. Think about how you are probably reading this document. You likely scanned the headlines and decided which smaller text to read. What that does mean is you need to decide what text on the page is really important. ( I’m a little surprised you read this far?) #wink

So make sure you don’t just have a wall of text on your pages. Use short headlines that get to the point, then follow up with a few short sentences. Make sure you don’t forget your action (maybe a button) you want the user to take.

A good rule is to type out what you want to say, then cut text in half.

Test your site with users

As often as you can during the project, talk to real customers. Show them your designs. Get them to read the copy you have created for a few pages. Ask questions and then listen to what they say. Can they understand what you are trying to communicate? Do they know what to do next?

Before you launch your site, sit down with someone who hasn’t seen it (and preferably someone similar to your customers). Show them your homepage, give them a task (ex: how would you request more info from us?), and then be quiet and watch them use the site. Ask them to say aloud what they are thinking.

If they have problems using the site, then bring those insights back to your web designer. Here is a #pro-tip, don’t wait til the end of the project to test your site. You can test with sketches and with mockups.

Conclusion

We’ve spent the last 15 years developing our Designtific Method and learning the insights above (oftentimes learning the hard way). Hopefully these tips will help your project be a success.

Need some help implementing these tips? Let us know.

If you have found this guide helpful, then feel free to share it with others.

– Go make something awesome,
William Donnell
Lead Designtist

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