Published: August 23, 2018
Designing a website is a lot like designing a home. That’s no revelation, but time and time again I’m reminded of the similarities. When you’re thinking about building or renovating a home, it’s easy to get overly excited about certain details: extra spaces you don’t actually need (hello, scrapbooking nook), the latest and greatest high-tech appliances you don’t actually know how to use, and those fancy finishes you really liked when you visited your friend’s new house.
You might find that similar feelings take hold when deciding what you want in a new or updated website. It’s important to take a moment and think about the strategy behind your site. What features do you really need?
Take a Step Back
What are you trying to accomplish with your website? Who will be using it and how do they prefer to accomplish THEIR goals? These are questions that need to be fully answered and understood before you can even begin to design a website.
Obviously, your website is a business tool that is incredibly important to your company. However, the best websites are actually those designed for the customer, so their needs should influence any decisions you make when selecting features.
Once you have identified your audience, consider what it will take to make their experience on your website a positive one. This usually boils down to making it as easy as possible for your audience to:
- Find your website
- Get to know your brand
- Connect with your brand
- Take the next step and convert
- Share what they have discovered on your website via social media or reviews
And just because you’re putting function first, doesn’t mean your website can’t be fun! In fact, depending on your brand voice, these elements often can and even should be combined to optimize user experience. Get creative and infuse your website with interactive features. Motion graphics, visualizers or even games can be effective ways to grab your audience’s attention, provided they tie into your brand and bring value to the visitor. Just be careful not to overdo it, as that can become distracting. It’s all about balance. Om …
Think about designing that house again. Perhaps having a few extra rooms would be nice, but once you realize you have to clean and maintain those rooms, you might start to wonder if they are worth the investment.
The same can be said of features on your website that go unused. By filling your website with features that don’t add value, you’re creating more work because those elements will have to be maintained. You may even deter website visitors if these features distract from the important information on your site.
Don’t Copy the Competition
When it comes to competitors’ websites, or that really rad one that recently earned a Webby Award, consider them but don’t let them dictate your design. Their websites may have some great features, and you can let those inspire you, but also remember that what might be working for them won’t necessarily work for you. When it comes to websites, keeping up with the Joneses is an ineffective use of your time and money. Be curious, be inspired, and be aware of what’s out there. Just remember to check in with your strategy and choose features that support your goals, rather than just cool ideas.
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