You’re ready to redesign your website (or perhaps create a website for the first time.) You have a budget set aside, you’ve found a website design and development company you’re comfortable working with, and you’re ready to get started.
How do you ensure you get a great website design? (Hint: telling the designer you want it to “be great” is probably not the best start.)
The first step is to think about what “great design” really means. In our view, a great website drives business growth or reduces business costs. You need to figure out what you want your website to do for you (yes, you need to make that website work hard).
Here are our tips for ending up with a really great (hardworking) website design.
Prepare for a Great Design
Tip #1: Clarify your goal.
You must know what you want the site visitor to do before you can have a great design. Your goal is not to have people find your site and say to each other, “Now that is a great website.”
The single best payoff in terms of project success comes from having good project definition early. — Rand Corporation
Your goal is to get them to take some kind of action. That action may be to make a purchase, request additional information, sign up for your newsletter, call you, or even to think of you as an expert in your field. Whatever action you want them to take, you must articulate that clearly to your website designer in order to end up with a design that drives that behavior.
Tip #2: Don’t copy someone else’s site.
Using other websites for inspiration and to get ideas about what is possible is a great place to start. You should clearly communicate what you’ve found that you like—and why you like it. However, there are a lot of really bad designs out there. And there are a lot of great ideas that won’t work well for your site. Not to mention great ideas that might work for your site but not when combined with another great idea. You get the point: Tell your designer what you like, but don’t dictate that your site “must be just like that.”
Tip #3: Avoid designing by committee.
It is good to involve other people. But once you involve more than a few, it becomes very difficult let the designer do his or her job. Gather information about functionality, but then work with your website designer to decide what needs to be on the front page (hint: not everything) and what should be elsewhere.
Now you’re ready to understand what to expect at a great website presentation and how to evaluate a great website design.