Yes, your website and brand need to stand out from the crowd, like appearing unique in a crowd of magazine covers on the shelves of your favorite store. However, businesses often let aesthetic and design perfection get in the way of progress.
I often see a full website redesign project get stuck in the design phase. And then, a website that was supposed to launch in June is still nowhere near completion in September. A common root of this issue is when foundational steps of a new website get skipped over in the name of expedience.
Yes, the website’s appearance is important — but laying a solid foundation is important to breaking the cycle of endless design revisions and actually making progress towards the real goal: providing a new site that shows customers how your business will give them a solution to a problem they have.
Here are some tips to keep you on the right track.
Create a Solid Sitemap
Once a customer lands on your website, the goal is to allow them to stay as long as they want. When building out a sitemap, care should be taken to see how content connects together. A well-connected sitemap is the foundation for the story that your business is telling a customer. Starting with this step will answer all questions around how pages connect together and what is the most important action you want a customer to take.
Use Soft CTAs
When it comes to keeping people interested, you don’t always need a large-button CTA. Save those for when you really want to direct them to do something specific. Simple text-based links within the content are fantastic ways to allow a customer to dive deeper into understanding a solution to a problem if they’re hungry for more. If your content gets them interested, the links are there to provide more, and when they click to get more useful content, they’ll stay in your site longer, increasing your Google page authority.
Wireframing and Functionality
Once the sitemap is completed, the next step is to design wireframes for key pages in the sitemap. Wireframing adds emphasis to the flow and key actions for each page. It allows the communication between you and the designer to focus completely on action without color and imagery getting in the way.
Visuals take a backseat and the focus remains entirely on the story. Color and images take a backseat while an outline is constructed of how your business guides a customer to a solution to their problem.
Chances are that a new website will be more than a handful of pages with a contact form. Whether there is a need to have customer dashboards, or uniquely laid out landing pages, wireframing will open up conversations around what data points are most important and how the customer will interact with the page.
When outlining a page, the hero should gain interest by addressing the customer’s problem or pain-point, and that should lead them to read the next section. That section should pull them in deeper and get them to read the next section, … and so on.
Then, Start Designing
If the sitemap and wireframe phase is done correctly, everyone should be in alignment with:
- How the story needs to be told.
- How users will get from page-to-page.
- What the main calls-to-action need to be.
This will allow the conversation during the design phase to circulate around the aesthetic of the site rather than what calls-to-action need to be emphasized.
The goal of the previous stages is to ensure that we have fully documented everything except for the actual aesthetic of the site. Revisions during this phase should circulate around how elements look and not if they are in the right place.
When we get into the design phase, we have to remember that when the website is transposed to code, the site may not look exactly the same. All browsers process code differently and every monitor has different dimensions that need to be accounted for.
That’s a major reason why designers lean into component-based design methods. Rather than designing each page from scratch, the goal is to design a library of components that can be used like puzzle pieces across all pages. By adhering to these components, it’s easy to keep your brand visually consistent from page-to-page.
At the End of the Day, Tell a Good Story
With all of that said, it’s a good story told by the words on the page, and strengthened by the design, that is going to drive people to a purchasing decision. If your message isn’t compelling, users won’t feel a connection to your organization. If your calls to action aren’t clear, users won’t know what action they should take in response to your story. Take some time today and look over your materials (your email campaigns, website, social media, etc.) and get feedback on them from someone on the outside. Your collateral should tell a simple story that an eighth grader is able to comprehend.
If you’re ready to connect with us and learn more about Classic City, there are three ways to make that happen:
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Learn about our website-building process here.
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