When the web was created, a lot of geeks made websites using people’s corporate brochures, something that is still common today. Come on guys, a website isn’t that – just a digitized brochure. It is your partner in a global network. A website gives you one shot at making an impression. If people find it difficult to read or spend ages waiting for information to download, they’ll just close down their browsers and you’ll probably never hear from them again.

So, the question that we ought to answer is – How do you make a kick a** website? One that will retain interest – with eye catching writing and design that’s easy to read and navigate. In this post, I’ll try and highlight some of the things we do up here at the Loft to achieve this. I’ll keep it light and simple enough to keep you smiling all the way – whether you’re a noob or techie.

  1. Look for inspiration.

    It’s always insightful to check out websites and take notes on what works and what doesn’t. See what you can learn from other designers and ideas that may help you to best create the online experience you desire. Remember, it’s OK to borrow ideas, just don’t rip a site’s code line for line.

    Before we start work on any website, we normally look at  Awwards and Site Inspire to get our creative juices going. We are then able to come up with rough sketches on exactly what we want to go for.

  2. Build your website for mobile first.

    I honestly find it annoying when I try to view a site on my phone and I have to pinch the screen to zoom in and out. If you still have a site that isn’t mobile friendly – you probably have a wife called Wilma and keep a dinosaur as a pet, and yes, his name is Dino.

    From my perspective as a UI/UX developer, it’s always easier to scale your mobile website up for desktop, rather than scale down for mobile. How can you design your site in the simplest way possible, while still communicating the information you want? This is where you should begin your thought process.

  3.  Measure twice, cut once.

    A common mistake I see in web design is forgetting to determine success metrics. Most designers build beautiful interactive page for their clients, with no way to determine if the content is helping them convert on their success metrics.

    Start by determining what the page needs to be successful at. Is it a lead generating site? Converting sales? Providing product information? Whatever the goals is, ensure that you can measure every step in the flow that gets a customer from A to B. That way you can make smart decisions on future iterations with your success metrics in mind.

  4. Know your audience

    Whether it be a customer, journalist, or interested investor, the last thing you want is for a user to close your website because they can’t find what they need. Recognize the type of customer that will be visiting your site and make sure you answer the important questions they’d ask if you were having a face to face conversation about your product. Once you determine what questions a potential customer might have about your product, you can figure out what needs to be on the webpage and what doesn’t.

  5. Remember, humans are looking at your website.

    Whenever you see an opportunity to have a causal tone or to add a touch of wit on your site, take it.  One of my favorite things to see in a website or web app are personalized micro-interactions. For instance, when waiting for a form to send or a report to load, there’s a little message like, “Steam… panda! Steam… panda panda!” Personalizations like this make me feel like we are already friends- and lead to increased conversion rates. Feel free to use my psyche up one, if you’d like.

  6. Continuously maintain and develop your website.

    Your website is vital to your business, it informs your customers who your are and what you do. A strong website is important for those seeking out your product and also provides legitimacy to your company. Nothing raises customer suspicion like a broken or out-of-date website when they decide to Google you.

    Also, remember to take time every now and then to hash out a few ideas to develop your website into a stronger tool for your audience or customers. Should you embed an easily downloadable press kit on your Contact Us page? Is there a better check-out system you can implement? Does it make sense for your social media feeds to display on the homepage? These are all things to think about.

Here at Chowders Loft, good design is at the center of all that we do. Over the next series of posts or weeks, I’ll try and share as much as I can on web design and mobile application design- focusing on UI/UX. Sharing is caring, yes?

So, that’s a wrap for today. Am I missing anything? I’m always interested in hearing what works for others, so please share your process in the comments below!