12 Tips To Great Web Design [Part III]

Now that you’ve planned for a great website design and seen the presentation of your website design, it’s time to evaluate the work and make some decisions.

Evaluate for a Great Design

Tip #7 - Remember your goal. 

The question you should ask is not “Do I like this design?” but rather “Will this design get visitors to act in the way I want them to?” If your ultimate goal is to have people sign up for your newsletter, your design better include a fairly prominent newsletter sign up. Instead of asking yourself about your own reaction, ask:

  • How will visitors respond to the design?
  • Will it meet my business objectives?

Tip #8 - Focus on the problem, not the solution.

Let’s assume you don’t like the yellow color the designer used for the headlines. Your first reaction might be to tell the designer to use dark purple. Stop! Instead of trying to solve the problem, describe it and your reasoning to the designer. Try, “I think the light color of the headlines makes it very difficult to read them. I want those headlines to be much easier to see.” That frees the designer to look at color—but also to look at font, font size, headline placement, maybe even the background color. There may be a much better solution than “purple.” Let your designer find the answer for you.

If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. — Lawrence J. Peter

Tip #9 - Do not ask "Do I love it?"

That’s the wrong question. You need to focus on “Will it work hard?” However, you shouldn’t hate the design for your site. If, after a day or two you still really hate it, talk to your designer. You should not accept something you really loathe. You won’t point people to your site, you won’t promote it, and you won’t maintain it. And then you’ve wasted a lot of time and money.

Tip #10 - Get some input, but not too much.

By all means, ask a few, trusted people for their input. Make sure you explain to them the key elements the designer explained to you. Ask them what action they would be likely to take. When you get input from them, be sure to ask “why?” (That is the only way you will get information you can act upon.)

Tip #11 - When in doubt, test.

There are lots of ways to test website designs. Ask your marketing department or web designer to help you create a test that will yield helpful, objective feedback. Just be sure you’re creating a valid test. (Hint: “You don’t like this design, do you?” is not generally considered a good research question.)

Tip #12 - Listen to the research.

You’ve tested two versions of your site. The research says version A will get people to act more often than version B. But your gut is telling you that version B is the one to go with. Now what?

First, ask yourself why you disagree with the research. By clarifying your reasoning, you can ask your researcher or marketing department to help validate whether the testing addressed your issue. Then review the testing—was there anything that biased the test in a way that may have skewed the results? Review general research—is there anything that can support the test findings? Finally, if there is still a discrepancy between the research answers and your gut, retest. It wouldn’t be the first time there was an odd sample; and it wouldn’t be the first time that getting similar results helped make the decision easier to live with.

Summary

It is very tempting to give specific directions to your website designer so you end up with a site you love. However, when you do that, you’re handcuffing everyone involved. A good designer stays current with the latest trends, technologies, and research—and will incorporate that into your brand and the goals for your site. Let your designer use his or her expertise to deliver a site that will work hard for you and your business.

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