How to design a website
If you have read our 'What is Web Design' page then you will know where we are going to go with this, if you haven't it doesn't matter, it's not required.
There are lots of different approaches to designing a website, this is our preferred method, it's not the only method, indeed it's not even our only method but we like it.
Identify your site's goals; know what it is you want visitors to your site to do. Is it buy a product or products, is it sign up to your service, is it sign up to your newsletter etc. etc.
Identify the possible routes to that goal, for instance if someone is looking for a specific product you want to take them to that product as quickly as possible, however if they are looking for a solution to a problem then you may need to take them on a slightly longer route whereby you educate them about why your product is the perfect solution to that problem.
Identify all your resources, what information do you have, what promotional material do you have; find all the information you have about your products or services.
These three steps should allow you to figure out a good structure for your site, which information will go where, what pages you need, what information you are going to put on which pages etc.
Identify your target audience, are they young or old, are they internet literate, are they cool, are they intelligent, are they patient, are they cautious, are they happy to sign up to things at the drop of a hat or are they going to need some persuading, are they going to want lots of visual content or mostly textural content.
Identify the core brand values you want to portray, if you already have a brand and some branding you will probably want to incorporate these.
Develop a colour scheme. Your target audience and your core brand values should allow you to come up with a basic colour scheme. With colour schemes it's a good rule of thumb to stick to two main colours with one or possibly two secondary colours for accenting and highlighting.
Basic page layouts and iconography. Similar to your colour scheme your target audience and the types of information you want to display provide the basis for your page layouts and iconography. Great examples of this are:
Usability testing. Once you have a basic page layout you should test it with people who are not familiar with the site or the product. They should be able to tell straight away what the site is offering and they should be able to navigate around the site easily. Give people tasks and see how long it takes them to complete those tasks, if they struggle go back to the drawing board.
Cross browser compatibility testing. Next you want to code the site, make sure you test often and regularly, all pages should look the same in all browsers, they should render correctly on mobile devices and users should be able to 'see' all the information and navigate easily on a range of visually impaired readers, text only browsers etc.
Test for markup validity, there are any number of websites offering to check the validity of your mark up, our favourite is W3C Markup Validator. Valid markup will help ensure your pages render consistently across all platforms, it will also help your search engine placement.
” Link Metric's search engine optimisation work took us from a brand new site, not even listed in Google let alone ranking for any of our highly contested terms, to page 1 in Google in 12 months.Tim Taylor, Foster Fridge
For many of our top performing terms we now have 4 or even 5 separate pages in the top 10, we dominate the first page of results!
Our increase in traffic has been phenomenal; I can't recommend Link Metric enough. “