Websites are the cornerstone of a business’ online presence. With users leaving pages within 10-20 seconds, companies need attention-grabbing website designs and content to make a strong first impression, keep their customers engaged and to stand out from their competition.
While there are a lot of elements and technology that go behind designing a great website, here are the essential foundations to create a successful business site:
1. Know your objectives. The first step is to determine the purpose of your website and what you want your end users to do. Do you want to create interaction? Content consumption? E-commerce? Define the goals for your website and structure the design and content accordingly.
2. Stand out. There is a lot of “noise” on the internet and it is up to you to grab your customers’ attention. How are you going to be different, better and be remembered? Be creative – find interesting ways to convey your content, find your own voice and create a website design that grabs attention.
3. Call things by their names. Usability is about making things easy for your users. Make your site intuitive and call things by their name. Buttons and call to actions should say exactly what you want the user to do – join, click, enter, etc. You have a finite time to capture your customer’s attention. Unless you give a clear direction, the user will learn little about you.
4. Interfaces are not for interpretation. While we are proponents of creative website design, don’t sacrifice usability in the name of originality. Make your interface user friendly and organize your content so it can easily be found. You work hard to get traffic to your site – keep your customers consuming your content by quickly leading them to the content that interests them.
The Promptus LLC website makes the company stand out from its competitors with creative graphics (a mix of illustration and reality), a mobile friendly design, an intuitive interface and illustrations that quickly relay the company’s line of business.
5. Create websites for the worst bandwidth connections. Not everyone has a powerful computer or a 12 MB internet connection. Design a site that can be easily opened and viewed by the worse connection. For businesses that are targeting a global audience, Amazon CloudFront and HTML are good tools to ensure your content can quickly be read by anyone.
6. Prioritize content before beginning the design phase. Make a list of your content and prioritize it from most to least important. This simple exercise will help you eliminate content that you really don’t need and saves you from designing pages that are not as useful as you originally thought.
7. Create functional wireframes. Make sure you know what your site is going to look like and how it is going to work. At Interaktiva, we use Hotgloo – a very useful and time saving tool. iRise and Axure are quite good as well.
8. Make your website design mobile friendly. According to some statistics, more people will access the internet via mobile than desktop within the next three years. When designing your site, make sure you have a mobile-optimized version. If your customers are pinching and zooming to read your website on their mobile devices, or clicking on the wrong link, you are not making a good first mobile impression.
About the Authors:
David Uribe is VP, Creative Director of Interaktiva Digital Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency that offers strategic, creative digital marketing solutions for business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies, and traditional advertising and PR firms. Prior to joining Interaktiva, Uribe led Universal McCann’s digital marketing campaigns for SABMiller Latin America. As Digital Creative Director at Zubi Advertising he created digital marketing campaigns for Ford Motor Company, SC Johnson and American Airlines. In previous positions, he managed award-winning campaigns for Johnson & Johnson and headed the online marketing efforts for Coca-Cola and Sony Ericsson. Uribe holds a bachelor’s degree in Science in Advertising from Jorge Tadeo Lozano’s University in Bogota, Colombia, where he also taught. He is a frequent speaker on digital marketing and social media at top companies and conferences in the U.S. and Colombia. He is currently teaching social media at the Miami Ad School, known as the world’s most awarded advertising school.
Alejandro Hincapie is Senior Art Director at Interaktiva Digital Marketing. In his short period working for the agency, Hincapie designed Interaktiva and Promptus LLC’s websites, which were both nominated for the prestigious Awwwards and CSS Design Award. Prior to Interaktiva, Hincapie was Strategic and Creative Graphic Designer at top Latin American marketing agencies Indexcol and DDB/ Tribal Colombia Hincapie where he created digital strategies and website design for top international companies such as Coca-Cola, General Motors, Honda and Johnson & Johnson. He received his Professional Graphic Design degree from the University Jorge Tadeo Lozano in Colombia. Hincapie’s portfolio can be viewed at www.hincafoot.com.