It’s tempting to ignore the planning phase of a web design project. After all, it’s boring and eats time that can be spent on the creative phase. However, skipping your planning phase can leave you spending a lot more time on a project.
This can be fun for some, but for many others, it is a waste. Proper planning of your web design process can streamline your project. If you’re working for a client, it will help you give an accurate projection of how long a web design project will take to complete.
This kind of planning is not guesswork. It is a calculated plan that eliminates as many elements of guesswork as possible. You need to define your goals and establish a solid baseline for you to work from.
It’s more of a form brainstorming with a purpose in mind, not a technical outline that you need to follow in perfect lockstep.
This planning is not going to hinder your creative process at all. Instead, it defines it. If done properly, taking the time for a planning session is not a drain on energy or time, but instead a break that will benefit the entire project. Here are some tips and tricks to help you improve your web design process.
What Should Your Plan Cover?
Planning is a different process for everyone and every project. Some web designs are fairly straightforward and only need a few minutes of planning. Other web designs are complex and large. You can easily end up spending days or weeks planning them out.
Your six crucial planning steps, whether your project is simple or complex, are:
2.Define the Content
3.Define the Features
4.Consider the Audience
5.Do the Research
6.Organization, Hierarchy and the Wireframe
Easy to use, coherent navigation is critical to the success of a website. It helps the user find what they’re looking for and also helps the site’s search engine rankings.
You need to think about the website’s user experience first and your search engine rankings second. You should design with a very human touch. Use words that people normally use and keywords they are looking for. This means users find what they want in fewer clicks and also helps search engines show your relevance.
Call to Action
You call to action, or CTA is incredibly important. It is the cornerstone of your entire design. Once you have people visiting your site, what do you want them to do? That’s where the call to action comes in. It tells them what they should be doing next.
Create a call to action in the first person, using words like I, me, and my. For instance, instead of the call to action being “download photos” it should read “download my photos”.
Another good approach is the WTLTIWLT test. This means the “would you like to? / I would like to” test. See if your call to action is, in essence, asking or telling WTLTIWLT and makes sense in that context.
Your call to action should stand out. The colors you use for it, whether it is text or (as is more often the case) a button. If your site is done in neutral colors, it should be still thematically fitting bright one.
Also, make sure the CTA as well as the headline before it are written in readable and bold fonts.
The 10 Foot Test
This is a pretty simple experiment to see if it’s obvious what your site design is about. Pull up the home page. Then get up and take ten steps back from the screen.
Can you still tell what the site is about at a glance? Have someone else take a look from the same distance? Can he or she tell the purpose of the site quickly?
If not, then you need to tighten up your design and focus down the messaging. You should be specific and avoid trying to seem cute or clever.
Maintain Track of Progress
No matter how much time, care, and effort you put into your web design process, it won’t matter if the content is not being read or leading to the desired results.
The entire purpose of your web design is to get a result. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools to help assess the site design’s overall performance.
You should continually monitor the site’s top content and evaluate the performance of all elements compared to all others. Knowing, for instance, the engagement rate of your top content compared to all your other attempts can be a major help in improving the overall site.
This is a vital and continual effort you need to make to keep the site up-to-date and as optimized as possible. Every web design change you make should be based on these kinds of metrics. They’re great for figuring out where you should do when designing a website.
Mobile-Friendly Sites are Important
Mobile sites are a must in the modern market. Many people will only see a website while using a mobile platform, so a site should be as legible and coherent on a small screen as it is on a large one. Mobile friendly sites consistently rank higher in search results than sites that are not mobile-friendly.
This has been done on purpose by Google and other search engines. They want users to have a good experience when they click on a website. If your site is unpleasant to view on a mobile device, they don’t want visitors to waste their time. It’s vital to have a mobile friendly web design.
Include Social Sharing and Follow Buttons
Social media has changed marketing. It is now a vital consideration for every website, whether they are commerce or informationally focused. A website without social share icons will be out of date and is likely missing out on a lot of traffic.
Identify Broken Pages and Links
Make sure you keep all the pages and links on the site functioning. Older sites have a bigger problem with linking to Unknown 404s or domains that no longer exist.
Go through before you launch your site design and check these links. Sometimes you will find that very important pages have simply quit working, or that service you recommended has gone out of business.
Web design has a complex process. Take the time to consider these elements before you dive into the creation phase.
It will save you a lot of time and effort if you already know what you want to include and what your goals are.