11 Considerations for Getting Website Conceptualization Right

No building ever comes up without a structural blueprint. No business ever starts without a plan (even if it’s on the back of a tissue or in the depth of your head).

Planning is mandatory, no matter how boring it might sound. Similarly, websites need conceptualization. You can call it a plan, a wireframe, a concept, a mockup, or an idea. The closer your actual website is closer to the concept and is aligned with your goals, the more effective your website is going to be.

Here are at least eleven considerations for getting your website conceptualization right:

Start with scribbling

Think about what it is that you’d like your website to look like. Put that down on a piece of paper. You aren’t going to get any awards for your artistic abilities so it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be there on paper. Once you are convinced (even if partly) about your idea or concept, port to a digital form. Alternatively, you can skip the paper part and go straight to Adobe Touch app and start from there.

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Create a wireframe

The best way to bring that scribbled-on-the-back-of-a-tissue idea to some sort of a form is to wireframe it. There are plenty of tools available to help you to create wireframes for website. In fact, you can also use Adobe Muse to create wireframes (although it wasn’t actually intended for it). The wireframe helps solidify your concept (and going paperless is just cool).

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Build a skeleton

From the wireframe, create a no-frills version of your website. Use placeholders, free vector graphics, stock photos, and freely available CTA buttons wherever you need them. This wouldn’t take too long and you can think of this rapid prototyping. Use a placeholder instead of a logo, a plain banner instead of a real one, and free available copy blocks from Lorem Ipsum. You’ll just need a basic, dummy version of your website for now.

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Prepare for feedback

Most designers or developers don’t think of this much but you do have a way to get some real, honest, instant feedback on your conceptualization. There’s, however, a way to go about it.

If you just share a snapshot of your website prototype with a community and ask:

“How does this look?”

You won’t get much in terms of feedback. What you’d get is vague and it doesn’t help you at all.

They say that the quality of answers depends on how you ask questions.
Hence, ask:

“The idea was to create a website with the only goal of collecting signups for this cause that this website hopefully promotes. Do you think this prototype actually fits the purpose?”

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Push it to communities and social media

Using design communities with enthusiastic members (expert feedback) and social media in general (end-user feedback), you can get plenty of information about how your website fits with your goals. Ask community members the right questions (see the point above) and you’ll gain plenty of insights you would have missed. The usual social media networks notwithstanding, you have design specific communities such as Dribbble and Behance where you’d not only get feedback but you could ramp up followers too.

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Research and learn

The Internet is a treasure trove for information. Gain insights on UX/UI from sources such as UX Magazine, UX Motel, and many other resources to make sure your concept aligns with industry best practices. Learn new tricks of the trade, incorporate some nifty affects without effecting the primary purpose of your website concept. Research is the key to getting things right, no matter how boring that might sound.

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Gain Inspiration

Apart from mere learning, you can also gain a lot of inspiration. Talking about inspiration, it’s everywhere. You could be inspired from actual websites that relate to your concept closely. You could even derive inspiration out of seemingly unrelated objects, marketing tactics, and other sources. Design can get its inspiration from anywhere. Look around to see where you’ll get your mojo.

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Cut, chisel, and make sacrifices

Designers are plagued with a problem: creativity often gets in the way of results. In lieu of an image inclusion, a CTA button could hurt. Overusing graphics can hurt loading time. Misplacing design elements could hurt conversions. You’ll need balance. You’ll need to weigh the use of every bit of color, every graphic element, images, copy, and other design elements with your actual purpose. Websites are out there to get you something. Nothing should ever affect that “something” even if it means sacrificing your careful, painstaking effort to develop assets.

Websites are for business – no matter what that business is. In business, only results matter.

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Test your concept

For testing, mere feedback from communities and social media won’t work. You’ll need professional testing. You can deploy A/B tests with tools such as optimizely.com. Deploy actual users by using usertesting.com and get real-time feedback by giving out specific instructions. If you are launching an ecommerce site, for instance, have users narrate their actual experience as they flow from finding your site to checking out to make a purchase.

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Launch and Tweak

Unless you are working for a client (which will require approvals of final artwork and such), launch a minimalistic working version of the website this time and repeat the steps above with your social networks and other communities. Additionally, you can actually ask specific experts (you can reach out to anyone online, remember?), and let them give you their two cents worth. Armed with community and expert feedback – along with your own research and intuition – you can give some weight to your conceptualization.

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Go live & measure

Finally, you can go live with your concept. Launch your website and keep track of metrics that are important to you. Your metrics should be aligned with your original goals that you visualized when you created the concept itself. Look for conversions, page load times, and UX factors (since these are not very obvious).

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Don’t assume. Don’t guess. Don’t second-guess.

What you thought was all right might not be all right for your users.

How do you develop concepts for websites? What goes?

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Author Bio:
Jon Reiter is the Founder and CEO at Epic Web Results – A Law Firm Website Design Company focusing on website design, search engine optimization, law firm blogging, and local geo marketing.

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