How many of us would describe ourselves as a computer geek, a website guru or a master of social media?
Very few I would imagine and yet – just like me and many others – you’ve probably found yourself as a stakeholder or manager of a mission-critical digital project and no doubt suffered more than the odd sleepless night as the much vaunted “Go Live” drew ever closer.
Over the years I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly.
Ever heard the expression?
“A camel is a horse designed by a committee”*
Ugly websites are often the result of ad hoc teams contributing their “bits” to the project without ever really understanding (and in some cases, without even caring) how the site as a whole will look and function.
Examples abound of websites with confusing navigation, inconsistent content, disjointed page layouts, and clashing colour schemes.
This largely arises through poor planning, bad design, clumsy implementation and inadequate testing.
This often happens when there is no clear ownership of the website or conflicting demands among the various stakeholders, especially if the project is running late or over budget.
Even if you – despite your best intentions and endeavours – end up with a less than perfect website first time around, don’t despair.
It has happened to me and a great many others too.
Here’s how to design and build a stunningly good website in five simple steps:
1. Clearly define your website strategy
- What is your website for?
- Which customers are you trying to reach?
- What are the KPIs you must meet?
2. Design your website with the user in mind
- How do you make your content as accessible as possible?
- How do you make navigation around your website easy?
- How do you make your website attractive and interactive?
3. Plan how you will deliver your improved website
- Who will manage the project from beginning to end?
- What elements will be outsourced?
- Who will own the design?
- Who will be responsible for customer experience?
- Who will take care of SEO?
4. Build your website only once all content is created and approved
- What standards will you set for content quality?
- How will you ensure design consistency across all sections and pages?
- Who will produce wire-frames and page mock-ups?
5. Test your website, rework, test and test again
- Do you have an agreed test plan?
- Do you have a rework process?
- Are you getting your target audience to use and rate your website before launch?
- Have you set up analytics for post-launch improvements?
The electrical goods industry where I’ve been working over the last 13 years or so may not be at the cutting edge of digital design, but it has come a long way over that time and there are many companies that have managed to create and build websites with form and function and excellent usability.
So what does good look like?
The websites below are all designed and built to provide an interesting and rewarding user experience:
* “A camel is a horse designed by a committee” is a quote attributed to Sir Alec Issigonis, the legendary designer of the Mini car