When it comes to website design, I find many people consider the aesthetics and colors of the website to be the most important aspects. This could not be further from the truth. Don’t take this the wrong way, aesthetics, colors and overall look of the website is very important, just not the first concern to be dealt with. In reality, the function and purpose of the website should be the first consideration along with design and process flow. Typically any color or design theme can be worked into the overall feel of a website, but it is vitally important to get the functions down first in order to have any real success.
So, what is meant by function and purpose? Namely, what is the site supposed to do? Are you going to be using the site to display information about your business, products or services? Are you going to be using the website as an ecommerce platform to actually take orders or sales? Are you going to be using your website to keep in contact with your prospects or customers and update them regularly? Are you going to be using the website as a platform to collect leads for follow up later or to drive them to somewhere else? Each of these types of websites has a different function and therefore, have to be designed differently. There are proven techniques and strategies that can be used on each of these types of websites to make them successful, but they are not the same across the board for each type of site.
Once the function of the website has been determined, then the overall flow of the website can be built and designed. What this means is that traffic can be moved throughout the site in a logical and easy fashion by the visitor and result in a desired action for the business owner. For example, a lead generation website might only have 1-3 pages and an overall desired result by the business owner of a name and email address entered on the page. An ecommerce website might be 1,000+ pages and result in the successful sale of a product through a shopping cart system. Whichever type of website you have, the flow of traffic is an important consideration and can’t be taken lightly.
During the overall web design process, it is also critically important to practice good design practices and optimize every page of the website for the search engines. The more planning that goes into this upfront, the better the chances for success in terms of ranking in the search engines. This is also where content should be considered and the appropriate content delivery created (written copy, pictures, video, etc.). I like to call this the “meat” of the website. We can have ideas of what we want it to look like in terms of colors, etc. but the main thing at this stage is filling the site with the appropriate, good content.
Only after all of the above has been done appropriately should you begin with the colors and designs and making the site pretty. This is unfortunately where most people start, and as you can see it comes at the end of my list. It’s okay to have an idea of what the site should look like, in fact I would encourage and hope that you already have a visual in your mind. But, you must approach the design in a systematic way and I have found this method to work the best myself. By approaching a new website in the fashion that I’ve outlined here, you will save many headaches in the long run and end up with a finished product that you can truly be proud of.