How do I decide on the design of my website for my business.
Ten tips as a guide for getting good website design for you – Choosing a Graphic Designer or a Design Theme
1. Use a competent commercial ‘website designer’ who is very much experienced in designing specifically for web rather than for print. This is a small number of graphic designers. Ask to see samples of past web design work. Talk to three of their references – ask them for advice on how you should work with this designer on the design of your website
2. Determine a ballpark or affordable budget at this point in your business. You need to be realistic, by giving a decent budget. Do not engage someone you cannot afford, but again be careful about using someone who seems very low cost. Do stretch yourself on this somewhat, because good design shows, as does bad design. If design is charged on a per page basis and the budget is limited, you would be be better with 5 well designed pages, rather than have 10 pages without decent design. Is it design lite as in a small amount of design input or is it proper website design, is it just focused on the home page or is it to be on all pages? You can always get more work done later, as your income increases because of having the new website.
3. Do a wireframe or layout like an architects plan, for a mobile view first and then for a desktop view – approve that as a guideline. Always start with mobile first, because this is where most of your visitors will start their journey, even if they end up viewing on a desktop view later, especially true for B2B.
4. Do full graphic design mockups of your website homepage or important pages to approve before you let a developer start any work. This will avoid surprises and revisions and time. It also allows you make any changes on paper, before any development starts
5. If you plan to use a web design theme as a base for your own design, check out its reviews, see if previous users were happy with it. Check to see if its developers are constantly doing required updates to see if they will be there for you, if you need help and you will need some. Avoid FREE themes, as they are free for a reason. Cheap themes are cheap for a reason, usuallybecause thousands of other companies are using the same one.
6. Then get your own customers input at the design stage, before doing any developing. You do not have to take on all suggestions, but you might be surprised at some of the useful suggestions you get. Plus it is a good opportunity to engage with some of your clients, by asking for their opinion.
7. Keep asking for feedback, but use your gut instinct to make decisions. Make them fast and iterate over and over, by doing A/B testing to tweak everything constantly as long as it improves results
8. Unless you are Coca Cola or Starbucks, you can afford to look at other websites for ideas and inspiration. There is nothing new under the sun, so find ideas you like and bundle them together to get your own version of a design.
9. Just do it – get on with it. A live site is generally better than an idea on paper – you can always improvise and improve when you go live
10. Design will always be evolving, so expect to keep tweaking. Keep using your designer to create new content for your website and Social feeds, that is in keeping with your new look or brand. Just like a bricks and mortar shop window you will be tweaking your website every day or week. Get comfortable with that fact, so you can constantly improve. This will all make sense when you see new leads coming through from your website.
Once you get your website designed and developed and live, do NOT walk away from it and think that you have ticked a box, so you can simply move on. This is live and evolveing, it is your shop window, your roadside hoarding or sign, your web based advertisement. If it does not generate enquiries, get to work on optimising the website and its UX or user experience/interface.
Website design themes explained.
Themes are simply designs that have been created by someone who wants to sell many iterations of it, so they usually sell for less than US$100. Many theme designers offer a basic version for free and promote a premium or paid version of the same thing. You could therefore start with the free version initially and upgrade later to the paid supported version. Each theme comes with its own styling and colours, headers, icons and fonts, plus some recommended page layouts. Modern themes are all mobile responsive and most can be reconfigured to a point where they are hard to recognise, once you add your own content. Nowadays they are so versatile that all the available options add great flexibility, but also add to the confusion.
When designing a website should you use a theme or create a bespoke design?
The best design is original custom design for you, which is the most expensive to design and develop. But your graphic designer could design for a theme, so that you start with a basic framework and design on top of it. It is akin to buying an IKEA kitchen and then adding to it with colour or other embellishments. There may be thousands of that kitchen in houses across the world, but after some personal design yours looks very different. Just do not overdo the tweaking of a theme, as it adds to the development costs. Much like getting that IKEA kitchen and trying to convert it to being a bathroom. There are so many themes, so find one you can use.
If you pay for the premium version the actual theme developer will allow you apply any updates, so that your website keeps up with trends. Recent examples include being responsive or allowing you add compatible plugins or allowing add web forms or even adding downloadable web fonts. Read the information on any theme and ensure it is comprehensive. Likewise read the reviews on the theme to see what previous users said about it. Only use a theme that has plenty of good reviews. Also check that the developers have been continually updating the theme recently. Some themes, like the Genesis theme, from StudioPress, are evergreens and get used a lot because they are continually kept updated and offer good support.
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