Website Design and Development
Websites are key to your success. Nearly half of your potential customers will judge your credibility by your website. Website design is much more than how it looks. It is a careful, methodical process that ensures the end result meets your business goals.
A website should produce:
- More customers - what good is a website that is not found when people search for your product or services? What is lots of traffic to your site if those visitors don't become customers?
- More time - If your website generates lots of phone calls they need to be from the customers you want, not the ones that just waste your time.
- More profit, more results on the bottom line.
Careful planning and strategic thinking will be needed to ensure that your website meets your business goals. In general, a website’s success depends on its ability to provide:
- Positive User Experience – If the user is not happy, they leave your website. The number one rule of website design is “Don’t make me think!” Achieve that for your users, and you’ve removed the biggest obstacle a positive experience for them.
- Good Content – Content is king. If you don’t have something to say and say it well, users are gone in a click.
- Effective Navigation – Users need to easily find what they’re looking for.
- Ease of Interaction – Once the user is ready to take action and initiate a relationship with your company, it needs to be as easy as possible.
Last, but definitely not least, your website needs to rank well with the search engines to attract new customers who don’t know you by name. SEO (search engine optimization) has actually become simpler over the years because Google has been on a mission to eliminate the tricks. They primarily focus on the list above, so that is also where your focus needs to be. Sure, there are important technical elements that we take care of which also have an impact, and we cover those in the SEO section.
Where do we Start?
Most people follow the Steve Jobs rule, “I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it.” That is to say, most people can’t envision what they want for their website. Not to worry, that’s part of my job – to help you figure it out. I bring the advantage of experience in many areas – technical, design, usability, and business acumen, which is uncommon. I know how to help you market your business online and create a website that will do that well by addressing the key elements above.
Initial Planning Meeting
Each business is completely unique, even when the product or service is not. That is because it reflects your unique brand and vision. A website is not an online billboard or business card. It needs to connect with your customers and communicate your individuality. The first part of the process is to understand your business goals and website objectives, but probably most importantly, the unique personality of your business and its FAB’s (features, advantages and benefits). We also explore sales and marketing strategy and how website can complement that. How do people find you – search, advertising, etc.? Are you a mix of brick-and-mortar and online, or is it skewed towards one?
For most business owners, this sounds like a daunting exercise and something better left to corporate executive retreats. I have found that the information is all in any business owners head. It just needs to be drawn out and I’m a very effective interviewer and what-if brainstormer with lots of ideas, so this part of the process is really not as onerous as it sounds.
The number one rule for design is “Everything for a Reason”. This applies to the form and function of the website, but in the best websites, it also applies to the content – what you say and how your write it. During the design phase, the information gathered from the planning process is reincarnate into the beginnings of the website – the look and feel, the navigation structure, and initial page content (or placeholder text).
During the design phase, the “house” is finished with all the technical details. It then becomes time to move in the furniture, decorations, and window dressings. This is either a joint project or you can take the keys and proceed from here.
If you’re just starting a business, your to-do list includes a website and I’m here to help. There is much to think about and well before I put on my technical hat, my business, sales and marketing expertise can help guide you through this phase. (read more on the Design Process tab).
On the technical side, there are three alternatives – a custom coded website built from scratch, one of the free Content Management Systems (CMS), or a hybrid. The most popular CMS by far is WordPress, and it has become the platform of choice for most small, and even large businesses.
WordPress has come a long way since it’s early days as a blog platform and today for most small businesses, there is little advantage in having a custom coded website, only added expense. Imagineer Design builds custom coded and hybrid websites when required, but WordPress is the platform of choice in most instances.
Website Fixes and Facelifts
If your current website is adequate, but something is broken, you want to add a new feature, make changes to the navigation, gain access to the content, or make basic changes to the look, it might be possible to do so at a lower cost than replacing the website. At some point though, it is like throwing money at an old, high mileage car and a new, modern website is recommended, especially if you have an old custom coded website.
If your old website is WordPress, there are many parts – theme, plugins – that can be swapped out to give your website a complete facelift be your answer.
If you’re an existing business, you already have a website and some experience in what works, what isn’t working, and what you’d like to add, upgrade or change. Some reasons to take a look at a website redesign include:
- Your website is old. The design looks dated or cluttered.
- The website does not rank well. When potential customers search for your product or service, it’s nowhere to be found in the search results. It is not generating new customers or revenue.
- The website does not work on mobile platforms.
- You don’t have a relationship anymore with the designer who built your website and are unable to update it, edit it, or add to it.
- The website is difficult to navigate and information is hard to find.
- You want to add additional features, functions or design elements.
Whatever your reasons, a redesigned website might be your answer. Design styles and web technologies have changed dramatically in the past few years and so have the expectations of users when they visit your website and form their perceptions about your company. The good news is that it is possible to much more for less.