Best Practices for Website Design and Development
Your website and landing pages are the most important platforms for reflecting your brand image and capturing new potential clients, customers, and business relationships. Your web pages must have the ability to inform and engage visitors while enticing them to take specific “actions”. People visit your website for a reason especially if you are spending valuable time and resources directing them there. If they do not find what they are looking for quickly and easily they will leave and most likely never return.
83% of potential clients visit your website before deciding to do business with you.
– Marketing Sherpa
Whether you are redesigning, rebuilding, or starting from scratch you need to consider the following elements when developing your company’s website or landing pages.
- Define Your Goals and Objective: Before you venture down the website design and development path, be sure that all the stakeholders involved clearly understand what you want to accomplish with your website (i.e. brand awareness, lead generation, educate your audience, etc.)
- Understand Your User: Make sure that you understand the general user behavior of your target audience and keep this in mind when creating site maps and designs.
- Create a Detailed Blueprint and Timeline: We refer to this blueprint as a Functional Specifications Document (FSD). The FSD should contain all details pertaining to purpose, functionality, code languages, site maps, wireframes, and information architecture. All stakeholders should sign off on this document before moving into design phases.
- Choose the Right Code and Platform: You need to consider what code languages will be compatible with current browsers, your desired Content Management System, and any third party platforms that you may want to integrate. Code validation will ensure that you make the right choice from the beginning, eliminate errors, and ensure scalability.
- Use a Scalable Content Management System: As your business grows your website will need to grow. You will want the ability to easily add new pages and content as well as integrated new functionalities. Choose a CMS that does not limit these abilities.
- Information Architecture: This refers to your website’s navigation scheme and menus. You want your user’s to be able to flow through your site and find all the information they need. Consider how you want to use top, side, and bottom navigation menus as well as drop downs and breadcrumbs.
- SEO Development: Make sure you use code order and SEO best practices when developing your website so that it can later be optimized for great visibility in the search engines. The website is where you lay the foundation for attack!
- Design and Usability: Your website design and usability features must be able to communicate your brand image effectively and immediately entice people to stick around. The wireframes and information architecture will determine layout and navigation, while design will cover the aesthetic appeal.
- Plan Your Content Strategy Early: This is where most website projects begin to stagnate because content can be a difficult thing to deliver well. Your website’s content is in fact one of the most important aspects of the project because it affects how you communicate your brand message, capture customers, and attract search engine visibility. Content can come in many forms: copy, blogs, videos, images, etc.
- Project Management Documentation: Have a process for documenting all steps of the project and all communication. Typically there are multiple players involved and documentation is key to keeping things moving smoothly.
- Quality Assessment (QA): You should go through several rounds of QA in order to ensure that you launch a perfect site!