There is more to a successful website design than pretty graphics. The wow factor quickly wears off if the design doesn’t help capture and focus your viewer’s attention on your content and offerings. Learn what you need to know about the anatomy of a good site design and the best way to approach the design process. Here I’ll show you the why, the what, the how, and the who of it.
The purpose of a website is to attract viewers. Good websites deliver an enjoyable experience to the viewer while enhancing your status as a resource provider. Successful websites employ solid online marketing practices to get found, get read, and get acted upon.
- Embedded elements to increase Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Easy ways to update the content yourself
- A wide variety of design options
A successful website does not start with a great design. It starts with great content. The purpose of a design is to enhance that content, not compete with it. Creating your content first will help you clarify your design requirements in the following ways:
1. It defines your message and target audience. This will help you choose the appropriate color scheme to be in harmony with what you say and what viewers expect to see. (See Choosing the Right Colors for Your Website.)
2. It defines your most important content. This will help you choose a framework, or layout scheme, that best highlights what you need viewers to see most. That alone will narrow your search and keep you from sorting through thousands of design choices.
3. It shows you how much space your content needs on the page. This will indicate how wide a site you need, plus how many graphics you’ll want to place on the page, including their type, size, and location.
Once you have your content, color scheme, and layout requirements, then you’re ready to dive into the process of choosing a design. There are tens of thousands of themes available, which is why you must narrow your criteria before you even begin your search.
Because site owners have become so weary of this process, customizable framework designs have become quite popular, including those offered by StudioPress and Thesis.
If you choose to hire a designer, be aware they come in three types.
- Site developers – who generally create frameworks and work mostly with code
- Graphic designers – who generally never work with the core code
- Site designers – who generally use a base framework and create graphics and CSS files to suit the design specs of the end user.
Be sure to ask what flavor your designer is before you sign a contract.
What Else You Need to Know
From start to finish, the process of getting a website created and published can take six months or more, especially if you go into the process blindly.
If you do your homework and create your content first, the whole process can take less than a month.
For more info on WordPress and designers, read The Anatomy of a WordPress Website.