Taking the Guesswork Out

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Web designing is a risky business. Designers are often left divining what their clients want. So how do designers make sure your creative ideas matches your client’s preference and goals?

The key is to take the guesswork out of designing. You can do this by involving your client in the website design process. You need to ask their objectives, their opinions, their own design ideas.

Taking the guesswork out of designing will also involve transparency on your part. You will need to give your client an idea of the processes and steps involved in the designing of the website, not just the final product. This will help give your client confidence in your process.

The following steps can help ensure that you and your client are on the same ground.

  1. Defining goals – Most of the time, client will give you a vague “I want a website that will help get more online visibility”. This won’t give you much creative direction. You want more particulars, more specific goals such as “We want a more contemporary look,” “We want to move up Google list,” or “We want a cleaner interface to make it easier for our customers to navigate the site”. Lead your client through the brainstorming process. Ask the right questions so they can provide realistic and measurable goals rather than general, abstract goals. If you will just make wild assumptions about what your client wants, you will both end in disappointment.  Data-driven decisions, on the other hand, lead to more effective websites.
  2. Creating a design outline – There must be a logical flow to the arrangement of the pages in a website. They should be organized in such a way as to increase a website’s usability. You don’t need high-tech tools to plan out your web design. A simple pen and paper will do. Create a diagram of the pages and sub-pages to be included in the website. If it doesn’t look right, just start again until you’ve hit the right note. You can also label index cards or Post-its with page/ sub-page titles. Arrange and re-arrange them on a table until you’ve arrived at the best visual hierarchy for creating an effective website.  If you client is asking for a revamping of website, use analytic tools such as Google Analytics to get an idea of website visitors’ actions. This information will help you determine which pages get the most traffic and which ones get low traffic, what people like most about the website and what call to action lead to most conversions. You will then be able to create a more precise plan of action for improving a website.
  3. Mapping out content goals – Sit down with your client. Explain the visual hierarchy, and what it could mean to user experience of the website. Then ask your client to rank the elements or items on the page based on importance so you’ll have a clear idea of how to distribute information. The most important items will take the lion’s share of a page’s space – say 50%.  Your client, for instance, would want to devote the most space on describing the services and the least space on industry-related articles.  Having a clear idea of the client’s goals and how they relate to each other will allow you to plan the best hierarchy of content.
  4. Identifying the best website feel – The website is where your client will meet their customers. As such, the website should cohere with the business’ identity. It’s their brand that’s at stake here. The website should be relatable in order to create a strong emotional connection with the costumers. A website may be formal, casual, fierce, tamed, edgy, classical, etc.
  5. Identifying the final elements – Now that you have a visual hierarchy of the pages and sub-pages, a solid hierarchy of information, and a nominated website personality, then you’re ready to pick the elements that will go into the website. The design elements should be able to bring all aspects of the website together to create a coherent whole. The visual style should speak to the audience what the company is all about. Explore different themes, different environments. Do you want a calm or an intense environment? Can you create an environment that’s halfway between the two?
  6. Putting the elements together – Now that you have everything on hand – from goals to design components – you’re ready to put them all together. By involving your client in the design process, margins for error are minimized. The result is a website that is relevant, effective, and informative.