Web design is about a whole lot more than just the visual appearance of your site – although that is certainly important! Here is a handy checklist of things that you need to take into account when redesigning your existing website or having a new website designed.
What Are The Goals Of Your Website?
- Does your business or organisation know why it wants a new website?
- If you already have a website, and are planning a redesign, are there clear goals for that redesign?
- Are the goals specific enough to lead to measurable outcomes? (e.g. “We want to increase sales through our online shop by 20% this calendar year” vs “We want a website that looks good”.)
Note: There’s nothing wrong with saying “we want a website that looks good”, but that’s a very subjective measure.
- Is there one key action that you want users to take as a result of visiting your website? If so, can you express it in a few simple words – a Call To Action?
Who Do You Want To Use Your Website?
- Do you know what sort of users currently use your website?
- Are these the people whom you want to use your website – are they your desired audience or audiences?
- If not, why not?
- What needs to change to get your desired audience(s) to use the website?
- Alternatively, should you change your goals to better fit the current audience of your website?
What Do Those Users Want To Do On Your Website?
Assuming that the users you are reaching are the users you want to reach:
- What do your users want to do on your website?
- What are your sources of evidence for this – for example, Google Analytics findings, user surveys, or user testing?
- Do you need better or more recent evidence?
- Do the users want to do what you want them to do?
- If not, is that because they don’t want to, or because your current website design makes it too difficult for them?
- If the problem is your current website design, what are the key obstacles, and how can your new website design remove these obstacles?
- How will you ensure that users of your new website have a good user experience?
What Pages Should Go On Your Website To Meet Business Goals And User Needs?
Once you’ve decided that your website can meet both business goals and user needs:
- What pages need to go on your website to meet those goals and needs?
- Do you have the content for these pages already? If so, does it need editing to make it fit for purpose on your new website?
- If you need new content, who’s going to provide it, and how long will that take?
- What content on your existing website isn’t needed? Can you remove this content in a way that doesn’t harm your site’s search engine rankings?
- What functional elements (e.g. forms, widgets, online payments systems, online events booking systems) does your site need?
How Will Your Website Content Be Written?
This covers a couple of aspects: who’s going to write it, and what style will the content be written in?
- Who will create the content for your site? Will it be one person, or will there be a whole team of content writers involved?
- If there are a lot of content writers involved, who will manage the content team, and how? Do you need one or more content editors to review the content writers’ work?
- Do the content writers have a common understanding of the style and usage they should adopt when writing content? Do you have a set of content writing guidelines to help them? If not, do you need to develop such guidelines?
- What language register (that is, degree of formality or informality) is appropriate for this content – should everything be very formal, or will your audience respond better to slang and informality?
- Have you ensured that the most important content on every page is at the top of that page?
How Will Those Website Pages Be Organised?
- How will those pages be grouped into sections on your site?
- How many items will appear in the top-level navigation menu for the site? (A good, though not universally accepted, rule of thumb is to have 7 +/- 2 top level menu items).
- How many levels of navigation does your site need?
- How will you make sure that your users understand the labels you have given menu items?
What Will The Website Look Like?
- Are there existing brand guidelines or brand collateral that will need to be reflected on the website? Are there official colours, approved fonts or a logo that will need to be incorporated into the website in some way?
- If not, do such assets need to be developed for your organisation?
- Within any constraints imposed by existing brand guidelines, what visual elements should the new site have?
- Will your actual or desired users find the visual design engaging?
- Is your design fully responsive, so that it works as least as well on mobile devices as on laptops and desktops?
- Are images on your website chosen and optimised so that you will not incur a search ranking penalty from Google due to slow page load speeds?
Reality Check: Is What You Want Achievable Within The Time And Budget You Have?
- How much can you afford to spend on your new website?
- When is the deadline to make the website live? Is that deadline imposed by external factors (e.g. you’re launching a new product line and need the website to go live before that date) or is it chosen for convenience? If the latter, how much slippage is tolerable?
- Can your site launch with a minimum set of features and add additional features after go-live?
- Does the cost of everything on your website wish list exceed your budget? If so, what features can or should be delayed until after the site goes live?
- Even if the cost is within budget, is it practically possible to deliver all the required work in the time available? In particular, have you allowed enough time for writing, editing, approving and uploading the website content?
There are plenty of web design factors to keep track of. Webstruxure has a lot of experience in web design, and we’re happy to help you make sure all the boxes are ticked in the web design process.
Webstruxure is here to make the web work smarter. Let us know how we can help you for user friendly, mobile friendly and search engine friendly websites. Our services include:
Tim works as a content strategist and project manager for Webstruxure, helping clients make sure their websites meet user needs and business goals. He is also a published author of fiction and poetry, with seven books published, and has co-edited two poetry anthologies. You can find out more about Tim’s writing on the New Zealand Book Council website.