Commissioning a new website can be an exciting time. The possibilities seem endless, from media integration to checkout functionality and dynamic design. However, deciding how to design a website should always be done with care to ensure a new or relaunched site is worth the time and money invested in it.
How to design a website: have the following six questions in mind.
- What design are you looking for?
Websites come in many styles nowadays, from responsive single-page affairs to New Brutalism sites starring white backgrounds and blue hyperlinks. Knowing how to design a website that will appeal to your target audience is crucial, for example media firms often upload case studies and employee profiles, whereas manufacturing companies increasingly add multimedia content onto their sites. Responsive designs that automatically resize to different sized devices are highly recommended, but everything from fonts to the use of image galleries is open to discussion.
- Are you happy to use a template?
WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder, powering around a quarter of the world’s sites. Blue-chip clients include NASA, Facebook and Toyota, and the WordPress platform has 48,000 plugins handling functions as diverse as ecommerce, embedded video and visitor analytics. Despite offering standard templates, WordPress’s endless customisation opportunities allow you to create completely bespoke and unique websites. Many UK2 customers have created successful and innovative sites through the WordPress platform.
- What is the new site supposed to achieve?
For new companies, this may be nothing more than an online resource prospective customers can read before getting in touch. For existing brands, a replacement website may be able to offer functionalities that weren’t practical or possible before, such as downloadable content or multimedia presentations. If the objective is simply to generate more leads and business, discussions around how to design a website will vary among companies whose primary focus involves being on top of search engine rankings. Which brings us onto point four…
- What are your SEO goals?
Search engine optimisation is so important that this has evolved into a distinct objective in its own right. Google and Bing are the all-conquering oracles of internet enquiries, and the hugely complex algorithms that collate their search engine results pages (or SERPS) are very finely tuned. SEO goals can affect the design and functionality of a new website – search engines favour sites that are regularly updated, for instance, and blog sites with new pages being added all the time prove this to be the case.
- What are your competitors doing?
A decision to redesign a website is often made as a response to competitor activity. It’s vital to identify what your rivals do particularly well or badly in their online profiles. What messages are they conveying, and does their tone of voice come across as authoritative, friendly, cost-driven, etc? If elements of their sites are more effective than yours, it can be a good idea to add your take on them – without resorting to plagiarism!
- Which content should be prioritised?
Clearly, the homepage is the place to make headline statements about your brand, products or services. It’s not the place to profile your brand’s history, or discuss past projects. Decide what your central messages are, and structure sub-pages in descending order of priority. People will be more likely to click on the first menu option than the sixth, so front-load opening pages with the most important messages. Finally, ensure sub-pages are easily found anywhere on the site, and always provide a clearly route back to the homepage and ‘contact us’ page.