What is Web Design?
Web Design is the process of planning, thinking, and implementing a website to create a website that works and provides a good user experience. User experience is the foundation of the web design process. The website has a lot of content presented in an easy-to-use way. Basic web design is about all aspects of the web that people interact with, making the web easy and efficient, and making the information users want fast and pleasing to the eye. All these factors come together to determine the level of website design.
10 Things to Consider When Planning a Website Design (or Re-design)
Like a mission statement, a website’s purpose provides the main reason the web exists in the world. Whether training, advocacy, distribution, community engagement, etc. Regardless, the main purpose of the website ultimately informs the design of the content and the decision-making process.
Frequently I’ll ask nonprofits, “Who is your target audience?” and they’ll respond, “Everyone.” While I understand the logic behind that answer, it’s a simple fact that you cannot design with “everyone” in mind (that’s why there are so many different kinds of cars, clothes, computing devices, etc.). If you identify and design to your top two audiences, the site is more likely to accomplish your organization’s goals.
Like the objectives in your organization’s strategic plan (and if you don’t have one of those, you have bigger concerns than your website!), the objectives for your website outline the main goals of the site. I like to ask my nonprofit clients to answer these questions for each target audience: What actions will this audience want to perform when they visit your website? What does your organization want these visitors to do when they visit your website? Remember to reconsider your goals during design and content creation to ensure they are achieved.
Responsive, mobile-friendly Web Design
Responsive design is the adjustment of the design of the website according to the screen size it is viewed on. Unfortunately, adding functionality to an existing website is difficult; and it often costs more to innovate. The days of two separate websites (one for viewing on a monitor and one for viewing on mobile) are over.
Imagine museums never changing their exhibits. Why did you come back after your first visit? We return to museums again and again because of new exhibits and programs – new things to see. We return to the site when we learn that the content will change and there will be new content for our review. Create quality content for your website to keep people coming back.
It is a known fact that people read only 20-28% of the texts on web pages. This is why people gravitate towards shorter blocks of text, more images, and more space usage. The great thing about non-text content these days is that all you really need is a good smartphone and you can quickly create your own photo and video content.
Features, like donate buttons, online articles, embedded videos or podcasts, online quizzes, social media buttons/integration, and all other information about gadgets and widgets, are what make a website powerful and interesting. It’s important to know as much as possible beforehand to create a more cohesive experience. (Later you wondered if you needed social media buttons, now there is no good place to put them without deleting or clicking other content.)
Search engine optimization (SEO)
68% of internet users start their online experience with a search engine. This means you need to make sure your website is good for search engines. While there are companies that only do SEO, their services often exceed the budget of most nonprofits. Fortunately, there are many SEO tasks you (or your web designer) can do.
There are two main costs associated with website development: the cost of creating and maintaining the website, and the cost of continuing website maintenance. Construction of the site is often an expensive project. Site maintenance can vary greatly depending on the developer. I’ve used Dreamweaver for my sites and my clients either learned about this complex software or paid me to update it. About seven years ago, I switched to WordPress, and turned on the content management system so I could replace this implementation. Now, my nonprofit clients do the updates themselves and rarely ask me to do anything after the site is up. Another site maintenance question to consider first: Who will maintain your site after launch? Is this person responsible for uploading content created by others, or will this person do all the work?
Website accessibility increases usability and generally provides a better user experience. Online content that meets accessibility requirements can be easy for anyone. Accessible websites and online content are more likely to appeal to more potential users. For UNCG, this means expanding website traffic to more sites, which can increase registration, services, and more.