How to design a great website
You might not care how your website works or looks when you do it just for fun or just as a formality. But if you expect for your website to be the tool that ultimately will help you make more money, you should take it serious. If you are thinking about hiring a pro for the job, read on, hopefully this will help you find one that will deliver best results.
Have a process
Having a strict design process which helps to create things that work best for clients is a key to success. Thanks to it designer is able to deliver a working solution, the best possible product that gets the job done in given situation. And let me tell you it's not a piece of cake. It differs a bit from project to project but the core of it stays the same. Let's just say, for argument sake, that you want me to design a website for you. In that case my proces will look like this:
- Information architecture
- Wireframes and prototyping
- Front-end and back-end development
- Content entry
- Browser and device testing
- Bug fixes and polish
At this point you might think, what tha??
- Why is DESIGN number five on that list? Is this other stuff really necessary? Why won't you create me a few comps and I will choose the one that I like the most?
All good questions, I have a few for you as well. Do you want to hire a professional or just talented mind reader? Do you like to gamble with your money? Would you pay for something that might or might not work and what is the result of dumb luck? I certainly would not.
- But what if the website you will design for me is butt ugly? After all this research and prototypes it will be too late to back down if we don't like the design.
Well Sir/Ma'am, this is what online portfolios are for. Have you seen my work? do you think what I do is butt ugly? You certainly wouldn't ask me for estimate if you thought that way, would you?
Michelangelo once said: Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. It's the same with design. Your website is already there, it is the task of the designer to discover it. And the best way to do this is through research, asking questions, making sketches, wireframes and prototypes. Once you have a working prototype, then you can think about making it pretty.
Let's say you need to go from point A to point B. Public transport is not an option, you need to buy a car. Would you rather buy a Ferrari in mint condition but without the engine or beat up old car but in working condition which will safely take you to the point B?
If you start the design process from making a few comps you are shifting the focus from what works to how it looks. Creating pretty but empty shell might look nice on paper but it will break into pieces once in use. Only when you have a strong foundation it's worth to invest time, money and resources to make things beautiful. Why waste it on something that might or might not work?
How to design a great website?
Forget about comps, ask questions, sketch, test, make prototypes. Focus on how it will work and what problems will it solve, then think about how it will look. This how design works. Thinking about look first is just a guessing game. I don't have time for guessing games, do you?