Plotting out a website that is responsive, compelling and engaging – that’s the goal. Whether you are making updates to your website or creating it from scratch, keeping your clients coming back is the ultimate success. Dave Yankowiak, Web designer and owner of Lift Development, gives us his advice on the design and must-have’s to build your brand virtually:
What key components should you outline prior to working with a web designer?
Purpose: Have a deeper purpose for the website beyond just having a simple presence or an online brochure. Engage and build trust with potential and/or existing customers. Is it a tool for capturing leads through search queries? Is it a resource where existing clients can find answers to their questions? Is it a commerce platform where customers can make purchases?
Content: Ideally, most if not all content should be ready prior to the design process: text, images, branding… Design and content are more cohesive. User experience will be more seamless. Content is the most important part of your website, so working with a strategic firm such as Allée can really help knock your website project out of the park.
Design: I like new clients to send me URLs of a few existing websites they like and why. They might like the navigation of one site, the color scheme of another and the layout of yet another. This helps me get a feel for their tastes and preferences.
Immediate updates and up-to-the-minute information sharing make websites ideal. What tools or features can business owners use to keep sites current and fresh?
Use a CMS such as WordPress. It’s especially beneficial to smaller, budget-minded businesses because you can update the website yourself.
Set up auto-feeds from external accounts such as Flickr or YouTube. It’s simple and automatic, and keeps sites current. For example, my wife is a photographer and she has her Flickr account hooked to her website so the latest photos are always shown.
Include a blog. With some practice and patience, it can become an excellent place to engage with new and existing customers. It’s also one of the best places to generate new traffic to your site. Every new blog post is yet another potential landing page for a new customer.
What advice do you have for clients looking to add or re-design a website? What are the “have-to-have” web design options?
Definitely go with WordPress as the CMS for your next site. Okay, maybe I’m incredibly biased but I always tell new clients that in the event that I pass away or get abducted by aliens, there are so many great WordPress developers out there (and growing) that they’ll easily be able to replace me. As for the design itself, give strong consideration to a responsive approach. Do a lot of exploring of other websites to see what you like and don’t like in terms of design and layout. And finally, don’t try to be everything to everyone. Nail down who your target site visitors are and focus on building a website that caters to them in a way deemed “remarkable” (a la Seth Godin’s Purple Cow).