It takes more than creativity to design a great website. Five critical steps leading up to the design phase.
Step 1 Sitemap and User Flow
You have conducted industry research, completed a competitor analysis but there are two important questions you need to consider.
Have you identified your top three priorities for the website? This will help to drive the key areas to the website and include clear call to actions.
What does a successful website look like? This is very important for the planning of the website and to create a successful SITEMAP (navigation).
Step 2 Acquisition Funnel – What makes a website a business tool
Using the user flow diagram, you created in step one, consider how you might be able to direct users through the website to a point of conversion, to create a customer acquisition funnel, put yourself in a user’s shows. Use specific personas rather than a broad audience and target your funnel to a particular person.
What are their goals?
How can you help them achieve these goals?
Step 3 Content Development
Content is the heart of the website, it is how you connect with people, It is how you sell, It is what you base the design on. Designing a website without content is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle without any puzzle pieces, you’re just grabbing random items nearby (a fork, a light bulb, maybe a coffee mug) and trying to make them fit together.
So how do you generate the content? The perfect way to start is by taking a look back at your sitemap. This is where you have identified the types of content you want to present to users. Use the pages or sections you outlined here to create a blank copy document. For each section include the page title, the goal of the content, keywords you would like to target, headlines and body copy.
Include the types of content you anticipate living there and how you expect it to be broken up for easy readability and mental digestion.
Keep in mind that the ideal reading level for website content is pretty low. Home page content shouldn’t exceed a 6th grade reading level (around 11 – 12) and subpage content should however around the 8th grade level (age 13-14). Million dollar words don’t earn points here.
Another great way to make your copy easier to read is with easily digestible content, using smaller paragraphs and including icons and images to break up your content makes your website infinitely more readable. Rather than presenting large bodies of text likely to get from users, simplify the content and make it easy to skim.
A good tip for creating website content is if you are not a copywriter, hire one! Its what they do every day. They can do it better and faster than you can. They can create a copy that is optimised for search engines and engaging.
Step 4 Wireframes
You have completed the content and its time to start thinking about your layout.
“Designing a website without content is like trying to do a jigsaw without any puzzle pieces”
A wireframe shouldn’t include any colour, font choices or design elements. It is a tool for organising content from a structural standpoint and to ensure it is presented in a way that makes sense for the user.
In this step you are discovering how information should be organised and solidifying the hierarchy from a visual standpoint.
In what order should content be presented?
How will the hierarchy present on mobile / tablets and desktops?
Step 5 Design
Now for the fun part.
The part you have been working towards. You are entering the design phase armed with a plan of attack that is based on informed decisions. You know where elements need to be placed for maximum effect. You are now prepared to design the conversion machine!
Plan of action
By following this guide, you arrive at one step after another with a fully formed plan of action. Each step is informed by the steps that came before it. The entire process is focused on delivering the most useful and relevant content in the best way possible.