One thing that sometimes escapes web designers is the need for the end product to be focused on the customer rather than on what the web designer can provide.While new whiz-bang things are nice, they can be, at best, unnecessary and, at worst, so distracting from the purpose of the website that the true message never gets across.A balance needs to be met that encourages creativity but retains the adage that “content is king”.To achieve this balance, here are three areas that I believe are important.
- KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
- Don’t do anything silly
- If I were a customer…
You can look at these areas from both a designer’s point of view but also from a client’s point of view. If you have contracted a designer to provide you with a website to sell you and your products and services, don’t get baffled with talk of Flash, DHTML, Java and the like, make sure it delivers your message effectively
Yes, it really does work… Keep It Simple Stupid is a key idea throughout a project. The client’s message is what needs to get through. Some industries lend themselves toward more complicated and visually impressive effects (i.e. entertainment, music, art), but remember that this is still promoting the message.
You do not want your home page to become cluttered and bogged down with too many words; this is the place to convince your visitors that they want to know more. Make sure your navigation is simple and makes sense; it is easy to fall into the trap of having snazzy looking menus and buttons that don’t tell you what they are supposed to do. All this does is wastes your customer’s time finding the information they need.
Don’t do anything silly!
While this is more of a pointer to the designer rather than the person paying for the service, as the client, it is your website that maybe affected and so you should keep tabs on what is happening to your website.There are some very simple things that can slip the net when creating a site.
Hopefully your web designer will have enough sense to have the site thoroughly checked before it goes live, but it is amazing what you see out there on the net.From spelling mistakes to grammatical, these small errors on the website promote anything but the professional image you have paid for. Look for these things when you are either completing a site or when your site is due to be delivered to you:
Make sure the title on each page is defined (this is what appears right at the top of your browser). It is surprising how many “untitled documents” slip through the cracks. It is also very important when getting recognised by the search engines
Keywords and descriptions are often played down when it comes to optimising your web pages for Search Engines. The “META tags” are hidden from normal view, but some search engines still take them into account when indexing your site or simply displaying your page in their search results.
Broken Links – there are two reasons for making sure your links are working: firstly, nobody likes clicking on a link and finding it doesn’t work and secondly, links are very important when indexing your page. If you are linking to external websites, you will need to periodically check them to make sure that they still work.
Get an assurance from the web designer that they have included these checks before the site will be released. Even take responsibility for it yourself and do your own checks.
If I were a customer…
You must always remember that the whole purpose of your website (especially if you are promoting products or services) is to get people buying or enquiring from you. With this is mind; you need to make sure that everything that is done is done for the benefit of the customer.
You navigation should be simple and intuitive, your written content should be clear and easily understood, pictures should enhance the rest of the website and everything should direct your customer to the point of your website being there: Making a Purchase.
A website is a communications medium, and with all communications you should tailor it to the intended receiver of the message, your customer.
Make it clear, simple and focussed on your customer and you have the best chance of making it work.