There are many people and companies out there who think, “I need a website. I like this one and that is what I want.” without any regard to whom they are trying to sell to, if this “new” look-and-feel is attracting the buyer personas they are going for, or does this design support their product or company values. Many companies try to be followers of known companies that are doing well or are popular without considering if their product or service can support this “new” design concept.
Here is a list of creative design concepts that should always be considered when designing a new website, or drastically re-designing a current website.
Know your audience
Define your ideal customer. What are their likes? Why would they be looking for your product? What are their interests? How would they utilize your product? You must take the buyer into account if you are going to figure out how to sell to that buyer. That means having a target audience and not trying to blanket sell to every single person on the internet in the hopes that maybe they might be interested. Designing with your user in mind from the very beginning will not only make your customers happy, but it will help grow your business.
Know your product
I know how this sounds. Why would you think that I don’t know what it is I am trying to sell? The truth is that when it comes to marketing and web design, companies tend to want to go for an “Apple” or “GoPro” look-and-feel even if the product they are actually selling might be ladders or electric wheelchairs. Everyone wants that ‘wow factor’. But consider the senior who is looking for that electric wheelchair and trying to figure out how to get past your parallax effect. If you have an informational medical site that most people search on their laptops, it is probably not very important to you to put a lot of effort into developing a mobile site. By understanding how your product fits into the marketing model, you can better design your site to compliment what you are marketing.
Have a mood board
Yes, I said to know your audience and your product and not to try to design outside of your product realm. But, knowing what you like and what you would like to see by what you think might fit into your product design concept could be a real help. Mood boards are a way of bringing all of your ideas, likes, dislikes and wants into a single place so you can pick and chose from the lot what would really work and what, after careful consideration, is just way over the top for your design concept.
Create a style guide
A style guide is your defined set of standards to your site. Not only have you decided on the colors and fonts but also on the look-and-feel. The functionality. The image you want to put out into the world for your company and product. Having a style guide ensures that no matter how big your website team is, they will continue to stay on the design path you have laid out. A style guide keeps the clutter and indecision away. Development of this style guide may be an ongoing process, but as a starting point, a style guide is always a must when defining your design concept. Ultimately, if your website is anything like ours — somewhat large, always changing, worked on by multiple designers and developers — a style guide becomes more than a nice-to-have. It’s a necessity. And it’s worth it, I promise.
Plan for column drop
Responsive design is a wonderful thing because no matter what device the viewer is on, the site will try to display in a configuration that is best for that device. With grid design, much of the guesswork is removed. But that doesn’t mean that you should rely on the grid to reconfigure your pages. A plan is in order to make sure the page looks great on the desktop and is equally as great on the tablet or phone. Planning for column drop before you reach the actual coding stage of web design can save you a lot of headaches in the end. And you will always know that your website is beautiful, in any configuration.
Don’t be afraid of white space
This is a concept very close to my heart. I have been designing websites for over 15 years and have come across so many clients who feel they need to put something into every nook and cranny of every page. White space is not always usable space. White space on a page can do wonders for that page. It gives emphasis and creates a hierarchy on the page. It allows the eye a break and gives your content focus. According to Crazy Egg, white space around text and titles increases user attention by 20%. Embrace your white space for it can do so much for you and your website.
A tip to keep in mind, an aesthetically satisfying site is useful for your business and guests as long as you don’t overdo it. Keep in mind the old saying “keep it simple, stupid” – you can definitely tone it down and still have a beautiful site.
Test, test, test
This is a step that often gets skipped, but even more often, testing is really needed when designing a website. The user’s journey is not always apparent to the website owner or designer. It is tainted by how they want it to be and they are oblivious to how it actually is. Testing gives you a chance to see how, where, and when buyers click. Are there too many clicks to get to where they want to go? Do they lose interest by the time they actually get to the purchase page? Skipping the testing phase can be a very costly mistake down the road.
Using these design concepts will allow you to design a better site, a more functional site, and a site that markets your product to your buyers in a way they can relate to and be excited about.
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