Web design isn’t art. It involves a whole collection of different skills — from copywriting and typography to layout and art — all fused together to create an interface that not only features a pleasant aesthetic but that communicates function and facilitates easy access to its content.
But in order to combine all these elements of Web design together and achieve successful results you must have a clear direction, a direction that will guide each and every aspect of your design towards common goals. You must think strategically.
Web design is all about crafting an interface that communicates function, is usable and accessible and exudes the right emotion and feeling. Effective Web design needs all of these elements to be in tune with the goals of your website and in sync with the organizational objectives behind the website. Strategic design is all about identifying those goals and using them to guide your design.
Implementing Strategic Design
ESTABLISH YOUR GOALS
One of the first things you need to do before starting work on a Web design project is to be clear about your client or organization’s goals. What are you trying to achieve with the new website or redesign? What is the website’s main purpose? Ask your client, your manager or yourself what those are. If they or you don’t know yet, then they should be discussed and agreed upon. A clear direction is essential if you want your design to have a purpose. Remember that a website isn’t a piece of art; it’s an interface that serves a function. That function may be to sell products, to deliver informational content, to entertain, to inform or to provide access to a service. Whatever that function is, your design must focus on fulfilling it. Goals are also important, especially if you’re doing a redesign. Ask why you are doing the redesign: are you looking to grow the number of sign-ups, decrease the bounce rate or maybe increase user participation?
IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE
Who your audience is will play a big role in how your website should look and function. There are many demographics here that can influence your design, ones like age, gender, profession and technical competency. Who your audience is will not only influence the general aesthetic of the website but will also determine a lot of smaller details, like font sizes, so make sure you’re clear about who will be using your website.
DETERMINE YOUR BRAND IMAGE
A lot of designers tend to get a little too inspired by the latest trends and then implement them without thinking first about what sort of image they really should be conveying. Glossy buttons, gradients and reflective floors may work for some websites, but they may not be right for your brand.
Think about color. Think about the feel you want to achieve and emotions you wish to elicit. Your design should embody the personality and character of your brand.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of implementing the latest design trends just because they look attractive or shaping a section of your website to resemble another website that you really like without first thinking about why you are doing it or how it fits in with the purpose of your project.
Don’t just build a beautiful website: make a website that really works.