Did you know that there are over one billion websites on the internet today? That's not to say all of them work per say, but in the last few years, numerous services have been created which allow just about anybody with a minimal budget to get their business or concept listed on Google. The irony about this is that it means more and more websites are flooding onto the web, digital competition is soaring and a general web user’s patience for bad design or for a confusing user experience is now wholly non-existent... After all, with over one billion websites to choose from, there's probably numerous alternatives which don’t suck.
Websites should strive to be different. It’s imperative they stand out from the clutter and cookie cutters and function exactly as they should. You instinctively know when a website is good, because you've experienced so many bad websites; what you may not know is that the reason it’s good all boils down to the process behind it.
For my first ever set of blog posts, I’m going to break down my design and development process because process is where a project begins. Here’s a short anecdote.
A business emailed me and they wanted a new website. They were sick of their current website and they were very clear with what they now wanted. A sleek design, five pages, a contact form, social media links and a gallery to upload their service images to. I visited their current website, it wasn't mobile-responsive and they could no-longer edit it because it hadn't been updated in years (yes, this is quite a common occurrence). I made a note of the requested items, but then I put them to the side. Why?
It’s true that their new website would probably end up containing all of these requested features. The problem is, we hadn't discussed “the why” behind the project. What is the purpose of this work? We shouldn’t invest in a new website because we’re tired of looking at our current one. We needed to first look at who is going to be viewing this thing. We needed to establish who our target is, and we couldn't be too vague about this... I understand that most businesses have all kinds of people walk through their doors, but there is always a target audience which a project should ultimately be geared towards.
I explained that their website should act as a bridge between the service they are selling and the customer. It’s a bridge which, while being crossed, begins to answer the main questions and queries the person is currently seeking an answer for. It’s also a bridge that evokes an emotional response and guides them to their desired answer. This answer is the action—a sign up form, class times page, product purchase page etc.—in a clear, unambiguous way. We really had to establish the questions which our customers were asking before we undertook the project.