One look at any of these 20 examples of bad design would lead you to believe that good web design isn’t as ubiquitous as it’s meant to be.
With 2014 fast giving way to another year, you’d think that such examples shouldn’t even be present.
But, they do.
Of course, there are beautiful designs out there. And that’s those websites are built for, to exude beauty. If that was the goal, it’s deemed accomplished.
But what if both the good and the bad designs are missing the mark completely? What if, and we pray not, design isn’t even addressing the main problem it needs to solve?
What if design is like makeup? What if design is just cosmetic? What if looks don’t matter? What if your goals were to convert arriving website visitors into long-term customers at maximum?
If there are multiple audience types such as casual visitors, serious customers looking for solutions, and then variations within each audience cluster such as gender, demographics, age, and other factors?
How do you design websites that suit the audience you are looking to target? Again, while every website is built for conversions of one type or the other, how do you gear up for such a challenge?
Every website has a purpose. The design has to meet the purpose to deliver what’s expected of it. Today, it has to do well and it has to do it real quick. Plus, it has to be fairly consistent in delivering what’s expected of it.
You can call it high-converting website, great branding, awesome UX/UI, or whatever it is you fancy.
The point is this: the website just gets the job done.
If you are a designer, your challenge is even more pronounced. If you design for design sake, you’ll be the only one to benefit. But that’s not the problem you are looking to solve, are you?
You are here to solve your clients’ problems. Most businesses are looking for conversions. Get brownie points for looking good.
Start with a consideration for your audience
Knowing who your audience really is goes a long way to make your website sit right in between that audience and the path you’d take laughing all the way to the bank.
UX/UI is too important a consideration to give a miss. In fact, it’s that one thing that determines the effectiveness of your website. According to Paul Marten, director of UX/UI at m-zine, UX/UI is now “critical to attract, excite, and delight today’s connected consumers”.
Notwithstanding a variety of audience types along with the never-ending slew of options when it comes to device options, form factors, and other new user input considerations including voice, touch, swipes, and gestures – UX/UI is now harder than it ever was.
Audience determines design
It doesn’t ever start with the design; it always starts with the audience. As Paul Marten pointed out earlier, user-centric design takes user desires, wants, goals, their problems, and your solutions in one creative rendition.
The new design approach now involves thinking on the lines of empathy, mapping customer journeys, working out pathways for use, and defining user personas become an important aspect “before” design.
It also becomes important to decode your target audience. Jason DeMers of forbes.com outlines 6 distinct ways to define your target audience, starting with knowing your goals, of course.
To put it short, keep the design simple, eliminate friction, use emotive design, optimize the user flow, and always test.
It’s about “people first”; not “mobile first”
What are you most excited about today? Responsive Design? Or is it mobile first approach to design?
Design doesn’t matter if your users don’t reap the benefits off such design. As Brett Waldman of Citrix.com puts it, it’s not about “mobile first”; it’s about “me” first.
So, answer these questions:
- I have a problem. Does this website give me a solution? Quickly?
- I need to know something. How well – and how soon – do I get answers from here?
- While I am here, how nice is it to use and look at?
- Am I being pushed or am I being informed?
- Wait, does this page require me to click three times to get to a page I could have gotten to in a single click?
- Do I have to sweat it?
- I am looking for one reason to get away from this page. I hope this page doesn’t give me any.
In the entire history of website design, did it ever occur to you that “empathy” plays a role in design?
Well, now it does.
Design with marketing intent
Design by itself is a creative expression. Designing for marketing is creative express for a specific purpose: to facilitate business goals.
That’s why designing with marketing intent takes a backward approach – starting from goals to design output. Dr. Ralph F. Wilson of Web Marketing
Web Marketing Today suggests starting from the chief purpose of your website and then dividing your website into logical sections arranged into a layout. Then, proceed to build a simplistic navigation system.
Aim for good-looking websites, but built with a purpose. To get that “purpose” to turn into “actionable metrics”, Pamela Vaughan of HubSpot recommends mapping your offers to the stages in the sales cycle following the awareness-evaluation-purchase process.
Build Analytics and Testing into your workflow
You won’t know what’s working just based on theory. You’d need data to backup your decisions when it comes to design. Thankfully, you can do that using tools such as Visual Website Optimizer or Optimizely.com.
Analytics and testing aren’t for the client or for the marketing folks (in-house or those working as vendors/consultants for the client), it’s for you to integrate and use even before the final design rendition is rolled out.
Do A/B tests for copy, design elements, CTA (Calls to action) while integrating each page (including blog and standalone pages such as contact) with analytics.
What does your approach to design look like? What do you consider before setting out with the usual wire framing, snapping pages together, and actually designing websites?
Author Bio: John Siebert is the President and CEO of Tranquil Blue – A Tampa Web Design Company that focuses on all kind of website design, mobile app development and search engine marketing.