Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Importance of Website Design

So you're browsing the interwebs, when all of a sudden you approach some God-forsaken mishap resembling something of this nature :

See it in action here.

Obviously I did a search for the worst generic thing I could find, but there are plenty more. It would be a lifetime's worth of corrective surgery for designers and developers!

I place poor designs into two categories, bad Bad design such as Yvette's Bridal, voted worst website in the world. You really do ask "Is this for real?" It's sad when yes, it is for real. The second kind is bad Good design such as Charming Charlie. I question how a store based on color and style organization can have such an unorganized feeling website. Perhaps it was just over-thought.

I don't know about you, but my immediate reaction is to get out of an ugly site as soon as humanly possible! You've probably had the same reaction. Sometimes you may stay just to awe at the incredible lack of care put into a production like this. It really is amazing how many sites have not caught on, though... who don't seem to care one flip about their public representation.

Unfortunately for them, business may suffer greatly from such a demise. Despite some popular websites with bad designs { Craigslist , Wikipedia , Drudge Report } most others I could pretty confidently say would see a great increase in profit by having a much better website.

Here's my little model of website MUSTs that are absolutely essential :

• Credibility
A well-planned functional design makes it obvious, without question, that your company knows what they're doing and that you can trust them with your business. It shows planning, communication, stability, care for their customers, and confidence in their brand.

• What You See Is What You Get
The feeling your visitors get when they see your site is how you want them to feel about your product or service. This connection is made almost immediately, and first impressions are important!

• You Get What You Pay For
It's common for people to devalue the usefulness of a good, functioning design with the poor pocketbook excuse. Cheap is doable, but it's exactly how you'll be represented, and that's how visitors will view you. Dirt cheap websites exist, but often have very limiting features and non specific designs, or they use a Flash template (as many Photography sites do) which do not display on many popular devices like iPhones and iPads. A good design with excellent functionality takes time and talent to create and develop and it's creators deserve to be paid their worth for an outstanding service that will bring the client an enormously greater return.

• Language & Copywriting
It's good to add your own personal touch in the language of your content, but if ANYTHING IN ALL CAPS and "!!!!!!!" show up, I'm afraid you've shot your credibility and the visitor looking to spend hundreds or thousands on your product might be a little put off by such nonprofessionalism. Word usage (proper grammar and spelling!) falls under the Credibility category ~ it is so, so important. Also, the average person does not want to read a book. Condensing text is important if you want crucial content to actually be read.

• Organization
Visitors do not deserve to be put through the maze of an unorganized website to get a simple piece of information. Navigation and location of certain links are very important.

• Making Connections
Social media is so easy to implement these days, and it's free! Make a Facebook Page and add a "Like" button to all of the product pages on your website. For every "Like" that item gets, hundreds of eyes from that liker's friend list will see your product.. and you'll gain lots of new visitors. Plus almost everyone uses Facebook; it's a great place to advertise.

• If You Build It, Will They Come?
Some of the worst websites are very hidden.. deep within the bowels of the Google search. This is because they use none or a poorly planned method of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This is HOW people find your website when they are already looking for what you offer. The words you type in the Google search or Google image search box bring your site (or images from your site) up for people to click on. I've found that image searches work very well.. but only if they are tagged correctly. "DSC038741.jpg" will do nothing for you. Name your file "Mint-Green-Vintage-Dress.jpg" and it will appear in searches when people search for "mint" and "vintage dress".

These items are ones I consider most important as I work with website clients, aside from just good communication with them, and keeping in regular correspondence as a project unfolds.

Yes, one•little•m is not just a dress shop :•)