Recently I was tasked to design and build a new website for one of our products, with the assistance of an in-house developer. Having never built a site of this scale before, it was a bit overwhelming, but I did some research and then got to work. In the event that you are looking to design a new website I would like to share a few things I learned through this project.
7 Items to Consider When Planning a Web Design Project
- Plan, Plan, Plan.
Information Architecture is KEY. There is a great quote that says “It’s easier to get to where you are going if you have the set destination in mind”. Well it is a lot easier with set out instructions on exactly how to get there. I created a sitemap and had most of our content put together before building the site but I suspect things could have gone a little smoother with more planning in this area.
- Use the right people.
You will have ongoing work with your developer/designer and you need to make sure that they will be available to help you with changes. It would be very frustrating to try and figure out what one person has done after the fact. Building on this point…
- It will never be 100% perfect and function exactly the way you want.
There are always minor tweaks that have to be completed. I’m sure that you are spending time fixing your current website regardless of how long it has been around.
- Set out a primary goal of your website and try to make every page reflect that goal.
In our example we wanted to collect new leads and also have a great deal of information available to current and potential clients that was very easy to access and navigate. Try to make every page reflect your main goal – Is it to sell more, provide information, get donations, or collect leads? It is very easy to allow scope creep as you design your site and the last thing you want is to overwhelm readers with too many messages.
- Templates and plug-ins are great.
Websites take a great deal of time to create and the more customization you have, the more time it will take. You might think that you can get the entire site done in a week…but the reality is that other things come up. You will not be able to dedicate all of your time to one task. Use templates and plug-ins where you can. Why reinvent the wheel?
- Murphy’s Law
Let’s say that you have an initial demo with a very important stakeholder. Bet that the hosting server will crash and you will not be able to recover all the work you had done before the meeting. If possible I would recommend having multiple backups so that all of your work doesn’t get lost if a server crashes.
- Allocate your time & resources appropriately.
I would split my time 40% on information architecture and content, 40% on development and 20% on promotions and SEO initially. Obviously you will spend more time promoting as time goes on but you really want to be sure to have a stellar site before promoting it too heavily.
These are some of the observations that I noted while planning and working on this particular website. Feel free to share any other tips that you have in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you!
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Thanks for reading!