After putting together well over a 100 websites, as designers it’s easy to take for granted all the past experience and accumulated skills built up to do a good job – we do this every day, so it seems second nature! After standing back from a productive brainstorming / whiteboard session with clients, we can appreciate all the details to consider before designing a site. Here are just a few that might apply to any website!
We look forward to pulling content from most parts of the website here in some manner to allow visitors to “pick their path” to the information they came for, whether it be the latest blog post, event, or “call to action” to visit an important page some might miss in the navigation. Some will be new visitors, and some will be return visitors looking for only recent updates – don’t put up barriers to either!
There will be at least two screens for most blogs – a page listing excerpts of all blogs up to a point, and a page to show the full version of a single blog post beyond the excerpt. We can’t forget blog posts will fall into archives based on years and months and even categories.
Should we list in a full calendar view or just a bullet list of events? Should there be full descriptions of the events or just dates and titles? What will we be able to display if we show the full details of an event? Will the event calendar be print friendly?
Will the client be taking photos of events, etc.? They will need to be able to upload images with as little worry as possible as far as resizing images – we aim to make things as “set it and forget it” as possible!
As much as we hope visitors will share content, it doesn’t happen as much as you’d like, but that is no reason to ignore social sharing. If anyone is going to share content, it will be the client, so we have to keep in mind what we’ll be doing to keep things “share friendly”! In this case it will most likely be related to the blog since the blog will have the most current promotions of activity. A good plan will be to post social sharing buttons at the top of each blog post, not necessarily for visitors to share content, but for the site owners to use themselves to quickly share content. We will create buttons for their preferred social networks ahead of time (take a look at our page! We do that too!).
The client loves to use search functions on their favourite sites – so why not this one? We use WordPress as our #1 content management software and has a great native search function, but this time we plan on investigating advanced functions like search suggestions based on what you are typing (like when you start typing in Google search).
We discussed how a website should answer common questions you receive all the time, which is especially helpful over the phone if you can refer to the website as you talk or if you aren’t in the position for a conversation at that moment, or you need to email a link rather than email a full response. That being said, a contact page can help answer YOUR common questions when visitors make first contact. In this case we’ll add extra fields to the contact form to find out simple information beyond Name and Email that can put a totally different (and productive) spin on the response.
All of the above just scratches the surface. By this point we are already thinking about SEO, what we might need to code (simple or difficult), how friendly certain things will be on smart phones, as well as the overall feel of the site – in this case it’ll be a very information driven with information creeping “above the fold” on the homepage, like a news site, rather than a large feature image (though we might be able to work both in together!).
Scott Kasprick is a graphic designer in Brandon, Manitoba and owns and operates Reaxion Graphics while helping his wife raise three lively daughters!