How To Make Your Website Project As Smooth As Possible
Websites are now a foundational piece of pretty much any organization. Whether it’s a business, a nonprofit, or some other type of organization, chances are your audience will look up your site if they’re interested in what you do. Duh. But people don’t realize the amount of effort, and often times the level of involvement required by the organization, if the site is going to be an effective representation of the brand.
We write, design, build and market a lot of websites. But whether you work with us or someone else to build you a new site, there are a few ways to make the final website and the project as a whole better.
Don’t get cute with the layout
A lot of designers and even more heads of organizations decide they want their site to be unique. Sure. Unique is good from a visual, content and branding perspective, but unique from a layout, navigation and user experience perspective has potential ramifications that should be considered.
People have been trained to do certain things in certain ways on websites. If they can’t find your navigation, login, search bar or anything else that’s going to help them find the information they need to eventually engage with your organization, then being too cute is doing yourself a huge disservice. Let’s let the big guys like Google, Amazon and any other site that millions of people visit regularly take the chances on a new approach. They’ll study it, adjust it and eventually pave the way for the rest of us.
Mobile first. Really.
Lots of people say they design mobile first. Few do. But not focusing on the primary browsing format first and foremost just doesn’t make sense. Mobile and desktop in the first round of designs is even better. But if it’s just one, it better be mobile.
According to oberlo.com as of May 2022, we’re now over 58% of web surfers on mobile phones. And what’s interesting, from a design and UX perspective, is that mobile designs are informing desktop designs now rather than vice versa. How many sites have you seen that use a hamburger menu (the little lines you see on most mobile sites) on a desktop website now? What a beautiful way to simplify the layout and file away important but secondary pages without a set of massive dropdowns.
Phase the project
Like I mentioned earlier, a new website that effectively represents a brand requires a huge amount of work from the organization. Content, photos, design feedback and approval, content…content. And just when you think it’s done, you realize there’s a section that needs more content. But letting the project as a whole languish and delaying the launch of your new site while you finish one section is shortsighted. It’s okay to be iterative.
Phase the project out. Work with your agency to figure out the essentials for launch. Perhaps that means you’re starting small and adding sections. Perhaps that means you’re porting over current content as you rewrite and modernize. Whatever it is, whomever is building your site should be great with this approach and should be able to help you strategize.
Create key templates
Folks don’t like the word ‘template’ because it feels like a website isn’t unique and special. But all sites are just a series of templates, whether they feel like it or not. And when it comes to digital marketing in particular, the need for landing pages is essential and can be easily templated without being an issue. Why’s that? Because landing pages are for targeted audiences and one individual likely won’t end up on more than one landing page before they navigate into the main site.
Having these templates and an easy-to-use content management system or CMS (which I’m leaving off of this list because you should walk away from anyone that doesn’t build you a site with a CMS and train you to make website updates) makes it so you don’t have to rely on whomever built the site to add new and timely content.
Opt for fast over fancy so your site can be found
Listen, we’re not talking about sports cars here. Fast and fancy are often a challenge to pull off. I’m not saying you should build a site that looks like Wikipedia, but load time is a key piece of not only your Google ranking, but your overall user experience. Anything that’s going to bog down someone visiting your site on a mobile phone with one bar is a bad thing. That means either save the fancy for desktop, or even better, consider who the video or carousels (don’t get me started) are REALLY for. Your audience? Or you? A great web designer should be able to design a gorgeous and speedy site.
In addition to making sure that the site loads quickly, it is always wise to optimize the on page SEO on any new site. Use an SEO tool like SemRush or Ahrefs to evaluate the structure and content of the site pre-launch to make sure that Google will find a fully optimized website to index. We have found that this goes hand in hand with fast load times and is one of the key elements to a successful site launch.
Okay. That’s it. Go forth and conquer the internet with your new website. Happy to help you out if you feel like TIV Branding would be a good fit. But if not, don’t be shy about showing up with a list of suggestions that looks surprisingly similar to this article when you’re talking to potential partners. It will save you time and money.