Since O’Daniel Designs started designing websites just about 16 years ago (when the web was just a new born), so much has changed. Long since past are the days of considerations that had to be made because of download limitations due to dial-up connections, the small width of computer monitors and a color palate of 256 colors.
Today’s websites are comprised of engaging content, sound, movement and color.
Web sites are a walking, talking interactive company experience, bringing a brand’s personality to life. It is the next best thing to reality … and in some cases it is more efficient, more user friendly, and faster way to provide information about your company in a no-pressure sales environment. A website puts a customer in the driver’s seat. With the click of their mouse, they can experience your company their way online. But be careful, with one click of the mouse, your competitors are waiting.
The best company web sites understand and respect the needs and preferences of their customers – in other words, they understand their target audience.
A company’s website should quickly answer these questions:
- Who is the company?
- Why does anyone need to know about them?
- What’s in it for me?
Web sites are being used as media tools. From logos to message points, downloading information from a website enables employees to jumpstart marketing and communication from anywhere in the world.
Here are some basics to think about when designing (or re-designing) your site:
- What are your site’s goals?
- Who is your target audience and what are their needs?
- What is your key message?
- Do you have a site that will support future growth?
- What is your ideal site structure – or, what pages would you like your site to have?
- Do you have established branding (logo, brand colors, brand message)?
- Do you have text/content for the site or do you need assistance from a copywriter who has experience writing for the web?
To go one step further when designing your website, here is a step, by step guide of the website design process:
- Initiate Plan:
Set goals. Establish a project team. Identify audiences. Define key message. Revisit positioning. Set priorities. Rough out a project plan. Define success.
- Build Groundwork:
Conduct competitive audit. Gather data about audience. Consider content sources. Explore technological issues. Assess resources for ongoing site updates. Evaluate existing site. Revisit goals and set strategies.
- Define Structure:
Outline content. Define logical relationships. Put together likes/dislikes.
- Prepare Content:
Define editorial workflow. Set timeline. Identify existing content. Rewrite text for web.
- Create Visual Design:
Color palette, tone, metaphor. Layout of key screens. Integration of media.
- Develop Technical Design:
Strategy for data integration. Static vs. dynamic screens. Content management option. Quality assurance testing plan. Security and scalability. Technical specifications. Prototyping and testing. Locking featured set.
- Finalize Development:
Production of screen graphics. Development of HTML templates. Content freeze. Inserting content. Approval of beta site. Test of beta site. Revisions based on test findings.
- Launch and Maintain:
Promote site launch. Complete style guide. Develop maintenance plan. Monitor logs and user paths. Measure success. Test ongoing usability.
Remember, a website is an ongoing process. It is never complete. It should be updated regularly to keep customers and potential customers coming back.