10 Tips For a Better Web Design Project

By on 04/8/2011

As an owner of a web design company, sometimes the simple do’s and don’ts become habit.  And we all know with habits, you do them without even knowing.  So its good to step back sometimes and look at why you do what you do again.  So here are 10 tips for a better website and web design project.

1. You have to start with a plan

I know this is a no brainer when you say it, but when you really dig in, its a little more complicated.  It’s easy to say I want a website for my widget firm because I need one.  To an extent, thats true, but you have to ask yourself why do I REALLY need a website.  Is it for information?  If so, what type of information and what’s the overall concept?  What should the user do with the information?  Is it for lead generation, and if so, what are my call to actions?

These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself.

2. Your Web Pages Need a Purpose

It’s true there is a standard page set you see on a lot of websites, but that doesn’t mean you should use them.  A lot of times you’ll see a homepage, about us, services, contact us and so on, but don’t stick to that format if it doesn’t suit you.  There is nothing more frustrating than a page that is ‘coming soon’ or reads like it ‘needed’ some content on the page.  Determine what you want to say on your website, then put it into categories.  Make it obvious, meaning don’t get overly creative with the link names. We had a client get really creative with link names, and it was very fun to work with, but then their users started complaining that they couldn’t navigate the site easily.

3. Direct Your Users Through The Site

This is a fun exercise, and the payback is obvious.  Not sure if you have ever been to a website, and after staring at the page for bit, you start thinking if you left the oven on or if you locked the door, or if Lindsey Lohan really stole that necklace?  The point, the site didn’t tell you what to do so you lost interest.  If your a restaurant, show a beautiful dish with a button that says ‘See Our Menu’, then on the Menu page have a concierge picture with a button that says ‘Make a Reservation’.  Take the users down the road that leads to a sale. Walk yourself through a sale and write down the steps it takes you to get there.  Try and recreate that funnel on your website.

4. Have a Professionally Designed Website

You know this one is important or you would not have searched for “10 Tips For a Better Web Design Project.”  I am willing to bet if you created 2 websites for the same company, one being created by a “site builder” and one being created by a professional design company, the professional design companies site would rank better and generate more leads.  People are graphical and like pretty things.

One thing to look out for, don’t go overboard with the design.  I tell my clients, you want the site to be professional and nice, but the content is king.  You want your content to sell the company and the design to compliment that, not distract from it.

5. Avoid Flash and Music

With growing popularity of mobile devices and jobs, this is becoming a bigger don’t-do.  Mobile devices can’t read Flash, so your mobile users get a big screen of nothing.  And with music, it never fails that your speakers are cranked up and everyone in the office is in deep thought!  Then bam!  You get a page with crazy music and can’t find the mute button!

6. Text for Search Engine Optimization

Search engines can’t read images, so use CSS and text instead of images when possible.  Also, a good organization of tags such as your H1, H2 and H3 header tags will help boost SEO.  Make sure to use UL and LI with CSS for your navigation, not images.

7. Keep Users on Your Website

If you are linking to a PDF or external site, make sure to open the link in a new window.  If a users clicks your Facebook icon and it takes them to Facebook in the same window, they just left your site.  If you open it in a new window, the users clicks around and does their thing.  When they close the window, there is your website again right underneath.

8. Make it Easy for Someone to Contact You

Now I understand some people would rather have an email than a phone call, but you have to make it painless.  I like to suggest having a phone number at the top, in text.  This way, when a mobile user comes into your site, its right there at the top and they can actually click on the number to make the call. If you want an email instead, make it a quick contact form including name, email and question.

Direct email links are generally a bad idea because spam bots will grab it and spam you.

9. Marketing and After Launch

When you launch your site, you need a plan on what your going to do next.  It’s no fun launching a site if all you have to do is launch your site and wait.  When you launch it, have a press release ready.  Post it on Facebook and ask your friends to comment on it.  Start conversations on Twitter about your content.  Send out an e-blast announcing the site.  The site development and launch is only the beginning, now the fun starts…getting traffic!  Make sure you have Google Analytics installed so you can track your site progress.

10. Test and Tweak

Now that your site is up and running, don’t let it just sit there.  Keep conversations going on social networks, put your website link on your signature on forums.  Look at Google Analytics and see what your entrance and exit pages are.  Run test on those pages and see if you can better your stats.  Add new content or add pages.

I imagine there are hundreds of tips around that can help a project and final product be so much better.  What tips do you have?  Leave a tip or post a link to your tips!

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9 responses to “10 Tips For a Better Web Design Project”

  1. Nice content. Specially I like the second point. And i feel with design content is also equally important.

  2. Nice content. Specially I like the second point. And i feel with design content is also equally important.

  3. Planning is very important for this purpose.And every page should be built by the purpose in mind.And if i add something in this.I say that both things are very important Search Engines and User.So focus on both.

  4. Planning is very important for this purpose.And every page should be built by the purpose in mind.And if i add something in this.I say that both things are very important Search Engines and User.So focus on both.

  5. Webhungers says:

    really nice content about better web design. this post is very helpful for new designers.

  6. Bob Kruse says:

    You know, flash is one thing, and it has its uses and I can understand why some people still use it… but the fact that people still think it’s acceptable to put autoplaying music (or any kind of audio) on their website just baffles me.

    Haven’t we all come to the agreement that doing that is just horrible? Has anyone ever visited a website that had autoplaying music and thought “Tes, this is what I want to be hearing right now. This improves my website browsing experience”? I think not.

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