Design : It might be your website, but that doesn't mean it’s for you.
It's always easier to help someone with their problems than it is to deal with your own. Well at least that's my excuse for neglecting my own website. Like the proverbial builders’ house, after a day of making websites, the last thing I want to do is work on my own. But when my website just made me sad, it was definitely time for a change. Here are a few things to consider when you’re thinking about designing your website.
Design choice 1 : Get to the point
Websites have changed over the years, and today it's important to design your website to work on a mobile device. This isn't just about the size of your text and pictures. It's about how people use their phones. Think about how you view a web page on your phone. You choose the page and finger at the ready, flick up to quickly scan the page. You make the decision on a site in a split second. You don't want to search through pages of information, you want it there. The home page of your website is crucially important to the success of the site. It should be instantly clear who you are and what you do. It’s easy for the information to get lost in the design ascetic.
Design choice 2 : My Life Story (It's not all about me)
Many of my customers struggle with the idea of an 'about me' page, aka how to sell yourself to the general public. Don’t get too caught up on this. Your customers want to know what you do, they want to know about your business. Unless you have a life story that's relevant to the web site, don't put it in. All too often an about page can come across more like a teenagers CV (At 8 I did this, then at 12 I did this). When you see the site traffic, and where people click on a website, it's rarely to the 'about' page. People go from the home page to the bit of the site they want. No one shopping on Amazon is clicking around trying to find Jeff Bezos's life story
Design choice 3 : A picture is worth 1000 words
We are visual creatures, we like shiny. An image will catch your eye before you've read the text next to it. Good photos and visuals are essential to grabbing people’s attention, and making your site pop. It's always best to get your own pictures taken, but this can be very expensive, especially when you're starting off. Don't be afraid to use stock pictures at first, but don't just pick the most popular. Do you have a friend who always has a digital camera around their neck? Ask them about taking some pictures. I use students for a lot of my sites. They appreciate the experience and want to expand their portfolios, and they don't want a lot of money. Don’t just snap 'something' with your phone.
Design choice 4 : It might be your website, but that doesn't mean it’s for you
And finally to the main point. Your site is not for you. Yes, it has to reflect your business, but it also has to appeal to EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD! When I start working with a client, I ask them to find at least 3 websites that have aspects they like. There is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from aspects of someone else’s site. Being aware of what works on another website is a good place to start your design process.
It’s always good to ask the opinions of others, and don’t be afraid of a little feedback. I thought the initial design for my new site was brilliant. Then I showed it to someone else. I still like the design, but after I was told (politely) that it was a little garish, I had to concede the point. You see, I have a huge streak of nerd (it’s what you want in your internet person), and had been playing a game called Fallout 76. The game is set in West Virginia, and features the fantastic Greenbrier Resort. Its look is part Overlook Hotel, part Laurence Llewelyn Bowles dressing up box, and that ascetic had seeped in. But what looks good on the walls and floors of a classy hotel, doesn't work on a mobile phone screen.
Just skip to this bit :
Your customer must be able to find what they need easily. No one is going to search around your website, they’re just going to click elsewhere. Use photos and images, use colours and fonts, but functionality and accessibility must come first. If you have animal print wall paper, more cushions on your bed than pillow or are a man in your 40s considering the move to skinny jeans, it might be an idea to ask a friend opinion on your design choices :)
P.S For more on the amazing Greenbrier Resort, click on this link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/design-inspiration-from-dorothy-drapers-greenbrier-resort-1420832365
P. P.S. I’m still not sure about my colour choices