10 Tips for Improving Your Website Design

Whether you are a client, internally or externally, or the designer / developer creating the perfect website is all about working together as a team. From my point of view as the designer, it's my job to work with you to ensure that we create the best looking website possible that meets your business goals. For example if you want to talk about what you've been up to (something my client Cllr Kevin Peel) wanted to do, you need a design to focus on the news and not on your content pages... obviously all websites have more than one objective though so it is also about compromise.  In this post I've taken a few tips from our good friends at Headscape, as well as added a few of my own. So a big thank you to Paul for allowing me to do this. If you click the link above you can download all of Paul's tips as a leaflet.

Together is Better, working together not only will create the best solution to your business needs but it will also take the burden away from yourself, regardless of being client or designer. Sometimes there will be clients and designers who want to do everything, 100% of the work ... but the issue is that in doing this you are A) too close the project to see the bigger picture B) focus maybe given to an incorrectly prioritised objective and C) you will get very stressed - so add these together and you end up with a half baked job. Anyway without further rambling 10 Top Tips for Improving Your Website Design.

    Focus on the problems & not the solution - Whether the client or the designer if you have some kind of issue talk about that and not the solution. If as a client you don't like the colours or images the designer has used talk to them about it, don't just say "change this to this" discuss the problem. Discussion will not only help the designer see your side but also help you see why they have done what they have. If you are the designer and you are having issues perhaps contacting the client, tell them about it and if possible ask for a second contact - it's rare there is not a second person you could deal with. Never ignore a problem, discuss it.

    Listen to What the User Wants & Business Objectives - As a client don't get bogged down in detail of "rounded corners", "shadows" or anything else that is the job of the designer ... it's your job to ask what the customer wants and plan with your designer how to get there. As a Website Designer you should be looking to meet all objectives in front of you whilst asking how you can deliver the best user experience to meet those goals.

    Give Your Reasoning - If you want to know why something is as it is, ASK. If you want to know why the designer has located a call to action somewhere, ask them, the justification will help you to understand the website and possibly your users better. Sounds mad but designers are professionals and will have done plenty of research in what is best online for all and your website. If you are a designer and want to know why your client wants a certain page somewhere ask them. And if you don't agree with the justification discuss it, tell them what you think would be best and reach an agreement - don't let gaps grow in your relationship.

    Recognise You Can't See the Bigger Picture - I could explain this forever and a day but to be blunt. The designer doesn't know your business inside out, even if they are "in house" they still don't ... The Client probably doesn't know too much about design and probably very little about SEO ... so you need to realise your limitations and theirs and talk. As a designer you will need to know bits of information about the business, maybe to set up things correctly you need to know how the business works and what its business model is... as a client you may need to know why the designer is doing x,y or z ... again discuss things.

    When in doubt, Test - If you find yourself unsure about the design direction or disagreeing over the way forward, test the design. There are loads of ways you can get feedback from a bigger group of people and none of them need to be time consuming or expensive. Testing the design will give you the confidence that things are heading in the right direction.

    It is NOT forever! - in a world of ever evolving technologies and fashionable design things change... you can always move things around or change how things appear. If you put something on your website that your users later don't like ... it is changeable ... design is not life or death - design is about evolution not revolution.

    Research is Vital - When you learnt to ride a bike how did you learn? My bet is you saw someone else doing it and emulated it ... this is a vague form of research I admit but you have to listen to even the smallest bit of research and read between the lines. If you read a book by say Steve Krug about design of buttons (not sure he has one but bare with me) He will have put hundreds of hours into that book so that you can reference and improve your site ... yes compare it to other books but don't ignore it.

    Copying is BAD! - Copying another website is a no no! E-commerce site clients often say "make it like amazon" or "make it like my competitors" one client even wanted a "photocopy" (including colours) of a competitor website ... copying is stupid, what works for them may or may not for you. Amazon and your competitors have a niche, just as you do ... also copying means your a step behind the game... as they move forward and improve you don't you just stick on a level with them!

    Context is Everything - As both client and designer you will have put a huge bundle of effort into the website, this is inevitable. Together you will have a firm grasp of how things work and why they are as they are. So if you are presenting ideas or a website "completed" before launch give context as a written or verbal brief... go through the site with people explain key features and ask for feedback ... justify your work and explain why things are as they appear.

    Avoiding Design by Committee - Because design is subjective showing it to too many people can just muddy the decision making process. Instead keep the number of people to a minimum and canvas their opinions individually to avoid design by committee.

So there you have it, 10 awesome tips for improving your website's design.

Should you wish to know more about the design services I offer, hop over to AndyKinsey.co.uk today or tweet @andykinsey