First, you need someone who will design your website – an experienced WEB designer, not just any odd graphic designer. Website design requires a lot more knowledge than print design, so you need someone who knows their stuff! Next, you will need a developer who can build the website using provided designs (very rare to find the two in one person, although any good agency will supply both on one project).
Browsing the candidate’s portfolio is one of the most important steps when looking for someone to assist you with your web needs. Unfortunately, there are way too many free-lancers and even agencies claiming to deliver the most modern designs and tragically failing at it. The sad truth is that some of them have been at it for long enough to remain stuck in their old ways therefore painfully lagging behind. If you are unsure, why not ask your neighbour’s teenage kids what they think of a few websites your candidate has recently worked on. Web standards change so quickly, you actually do need to look down to the young ones, even if your target audience is older.
You will notice there is quite a bit of psychology going into the below points and it might feel like a bit of an unnecessary burden if all you want is a simple website for your small business. But if you want your efforts to be worthwhile, all of this is absolutely necessary to consider and implement. Speak to your web designer about it and ask a lot of questions, especially if you feel lost in this. His answer will either guide you into more understanding or onto another designer
1. Write copy, then design. The design has one job: bring the content to life. A lot of people get this backwards. They start with the design, then try to fit – truthfully “cram” – the copy into it.
2. Good design has strong ties to emotion. It needs to express the emotional qualities of the business you are representing and so be quite personal. It also has to appeal to the driving emotions of your target customer, both the emotions around their needs and the emotions they will feel when their purchase satisfies those needs.
3. Accessibility and responsiveness should be factored in and from the start. And it’s not just about designing for people with impairments or disabilities – it’s about considering how everyone will interact with your site. Are they using a keyboard or a mouse? Or touch? What device are they using? Site’s functions must be supported across multiple browsers and any devices. A lot of websites get over 50% of their total visits from mobile, so without mobile optimisation, you are running the risk of frustrating visitors and driving them to look elsewhere (i.e. your competition).
4. Interactive design. Gone are the days when users were impressed by simple interactions like a bit of unexpected animation – now animations are almost required, along with plenty of micro interactions that can’t be taken for granted. Users are more likely to be intrigued by messages on websites with interactive features. Interactivity persuades people by making users think more deeply about the message. Simply put, the design needs to be intuitive, reliable and consistent, and above all engaging.
5. Scroll through websites like apple.com or spotify.com to see how the big guys are making it work for them. You will notice a lot of negative space, in fact, as you scroll, there’s often just ONE key paragraph/message visible on your screen at a time. This makes the visitor actually FOCUS on one key piece of content at a time and that really works in your favour.
Have a look here for examples of really well designed websites and their home pages that will bring you some inspiration! http://bit.ly/1JsZ7ci
All the best, Huzzah! Team