Commissioning a new website can be an exciting time. The possibilities seem endless, with considerations from media integration to checkout functionality and dynamic design. However, deciding how to design a website should always be done with the following six questions in mind to ensure a new or relaunched site is worth the time and money invested in it:
- What design are you looking for? Websites come in many styles nowadays, from responsive single-page affairs to New Brutalism sites featuring minimalist white backgrounds and blue hyperlinks. Knowing how to design a website that will appeal to your target audience is crucial – media firms often want to upload case studies and employee profiles, whereas manufacturing companies might add multimedia content onto their sites. Responsive designs that automatically resize are highly recommended, but everything else (from fonts to the use of image galleries) is up for debate.
- 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 allows you to create completely bespoke and unique websites. Many UK2 customers have already created successful and innovative sites through the WordPress platform.
- What is the new site supposed to achieve? For new companies, a new site might simply be a resource prospective customers can study before getting in touch. For existing brands, a replacement website may be intended to offer functionalities that weren’t practical or available before, like downloadable content or multimedia presentations. If the objective is simply to generate more leads and business, discussions about how to design a website will be different than 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 results pages 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 example, and a blog page clearly demonstrates that this is happening.
- 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 online. What messages are their sites conveying, and does their tone of voice come across as authoritative, friendly, cost-driven, and does it work? If elements of their sites are more effective than yours, it can be a good idea to add your own take on them – without resorting to outright plagiarism, of course!
- What content should be prioritised? A homepage is where you should make headline statements about your brand, products or services. It’s not the place to profile your brand’s history, or detail 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 high-profile pages with the most important messages. Finally, ensure sub-pages are easily accessible from anywhere on the site, and always provide clear routes back to the homepage and ‘contact us’ page.