1. Know Your Audience: Before you pick up a “mouse” to start designing a great website for a client you need to know your target audience. Who is coming to this website? What are their demographics, interests etc. Once you determine your target audience you can begin to think of design ideas like colors and images. For example if you are building a site and their target audience is females 23-40 then it’s a good idea to have soothing colors, hints of pastels or whatever fits the business owner and their target audience.
2. Wear Your Guest’s Shoes: Don’t just write content for search engine robots for SEO! Imagine what it’s like to sit down with a cup of joe and start browsing around your site. What do you want them to experience, see that reflects your clients business and keeps them engaged in your site.
3. Organize the Flow: Make sure you design your site so that people with different learning styles can get to where they want to go and where you want them to go easily. Some people are visual learners, so have images that give them a clear path to where they want to go, some folks go right to menu and others head right to search bar. People are lazy/ busy whatever, if they can’t find it fast, they’re gonna bounce.
4. Create a “wienie”: * Create something to draw them in. “Get your free e-book…Sign up for our newsletter” (I’m telling you Walt was way ahead of his time!) Something that draws their attention to a promise of something worth their sacrifice of their email address.
5. Communicate with Visual Literacy: Your website can’t be all about text and information, you need images to help tell the story and more and more people will watch a video before they read a whole page of content.
6. Avoid Overload: Don’t fill your layout with too much information. You don’t want to land on a site with Facebook feed and twitter feeds and 7 videos and 20 text boxes blinking and popups asking for your email. “Let them choose the information they want when they want it.”
7. Tell One Story at a Time: This is what google has been saying for years, each page on your site should tell a different, focused story on one topic. If your site has residential and commercial clients make sure you separate each page and topic and focus only on that one story at a time.
8. Avoid Contradictions: While knowing your target audience is important, you can’t sacrifice the business’ identity in the process. You can apply this to social media marketing where you want to connect to a certain demographic, but you don’t want to be all like, dude you should totally buy this and stuff. Unless your company is founded by surfers for surfers.
9. For Every Ounce of Treatment, Provide a ton of Treat: You website should be engaging, fun, informative and give them an opportunity to be stimulated by as many of their senses as you can. Don’t play a midi music behind the landing page, but include video, blog post with questions that engage intelligent conversation, polls, user generated social media content etc. Be creative, use your imagination. I love this definition of an “Imagineering – the blending of creative imagination and technical know-how” Walt Disney
10. Keep it Up: Nothing is worse than finding a website and then finding the “calendar of events” is from 2004! There is a certain amount of “evergreen” content that won’t change on most sites, but an occasional blog or photos of events or something that let’s us know this site wasn’t created in 1996 and left on a server somewhere unattended. Keep it fresh. If nothing else update your website theme every 2-3 years so the look and feel doesn’t get all stale and crusty!