Designing Your Website

The Basics

Designing your website is like making an interactive presentation. You need to know who your audience is so you can tailor your site to them. What is the purpose of your website? What do you want the visitor to do or take away after visiting your site? How are you going to keep their attention? What do competitor sites look like and offer? What makes you different than the others? Why should someone pick you instead of one of your competitors? There are so many pieces to designing your website, where do you begin?

Failure to Plan, Is Planning to Fail   ~ Benjamin Franklin

At first, trying to figure out where to start can be overwhelming. Once you've gathered all your information (Discovery Process), you need to make an outline of what it is that you want to present. This part isn't saying what a page will look like or what will be on the page, it's just an outline of the flow of your website.

Website Design Flow You may not know all the pieces that will make up your website, but you can start with the basic. You know you'll need a home page, a page that talks about your business and key personnel. What if your customers want to contact you, you'll need a "Contact Us" page. You'll want to show what services you offer, the different options those services have, prices etc. The same would go for your products. What products do you have; description of the products, pictures, dimensions, weight, pricing.

There are other things that a website can have such as a site map, disclaimers you'll want on your website. Some disclaimers for example would be privacy policy, terms and condition of use, and if you're going to do eCommerce, then you'll have sales policies, return policies and other policies that you'll want to ensure are posted on your site. This is where you think big, what could you have, how would you organize it, how would the navigation work. All of these things can be done in the beginning before anything has really been done.

Speed vs. Substance

Designing a website is exciting, but be careful not to overload it with images and fancy things too much. That will slow down your page loading which could mean losing customers. For example, take a look at this page to see how quick your home page should load in. What it comes down to is a balancing act on what to put on a page that is worth its weight (size). Some large websites are not worried about the load time while other smaller one are as they don't want to miss the chance of making a sale. Its up to you on what you feel is important and how you want your site to respond.

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