On the most basic of levels, building a website is easy – you create the design, place it over some code you’ve written and when the two are combined together and published online, you’ve got a website everyone can engage with.
As anyone involved in web design will tell you, however, this is about as accurate of a description as it is to say building a house is just a matter of placing a couple of bricks on top of each other.
A process that requires you to take into account such a huge variety of different aspects, it’s considerably more complex than most people first appreciate – in fact, in many ways it can be more complicated than actually building a house.
The reason behind this is that when you’re building a house (keep in mind we’re not house builders!), you create it based on what a large audience wants in general. For example, you might design it so it has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and a large kitchen-diner, making it ideal for families. You’d then replicate this like-for-like across as many plots as you have available.
With web design, whilst you do need to take your general audience’s requirements into consideration, you also need to look at individual users and the experience they’ll have with you; their journey from visitor to – hopefully – customer.
A difficult process, every single one of your customers will want something different from you. Their requirements might not all be considerably different from each other, but you don’t often get visitors who all want the exact same thing from your website. As such, you need to be ensuring your website ticks as many boxes as it can for as many visitors as possible.
You need to be looking at everything from their requirements in terms of aesthetics and the colours used through to the layout of your product pages. You need to consider whether visitors want instant access to huge quantities of text or simply an image and brief description first and foremost. You have to look at whether big, bold and bright colours are going to attract and appeal or put your customers off.
You need to look at things such as your navigation menu and decide whether it will be more effective being top placed or as a sidebar and subsequently, whether it should give access to everything directly or be more concise and minimalist.
The experience your users go through on your website is vital to how they view you as a brand. Your instant impressions of a website may simply be that it’s a resource upon which customers can engage with you on and potentially buy from you, but when it’s being created, it needs to be thought of in much greater detail.
As consumers, it takes a lot to gain our respect and loyalty and if a website doesn’t meet your needs, most won’t think twice about moving to a competitor, without ever looking back – and the reality is, there’s every possibility this could be due to not having a website that truly meets the experience requirements your customers have.
Image: mollystevens (Flickr)