Consultation is an important aspect of successful website design. And as professionals who are always immersed in leading-edge design and technology, it’s easy to forget that your clients don’t understand all of the ins and outs of web design. We have found that clients often require help appreciating the implications of the following five points. And to be quite frank, we have run into awkward and even unpleasant situations when we have failed to adequately explain these points and their ramifications.

It’s Not an Online Brochure

An organization’s online presence is becoming one of its most critical assets; and the website is a key component of that presence. As such, it should be linked to social media, prime individual and strategic network connections, relevant resources, and provide the opportuity for interaction and dialogue. It is no longer sufficient merely to inform people, your website should engage with your market.

You Only Need One Front Door

We all understand that several rooms in our house are both important and frequently used. However, we don’t build houses with four front doors so we can walk directly into our kitchen, bathroom, livingroom or dining room. So why does the homepage of your website need a main navigation that allows direct access to absolutely every page deemed somewhat important? Part of designing a website is considering the user experience. What will your primary market want to access, and what is a logical sequence or process for them to do so. A linked icon or banner may be an ideal way to highllght specific pages, rather than having too many main navigation sections.

The Ramifications of Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design (RWD) allows your website to be efficiently viewed and navigated on different sized screens and devices (from desktops to tablets to smart phones). Clients expect this, but they typically don’t understand that in order for a website to be viewed in different sizes and perspectives some concessions must be made in the design. Text and images must be able to reflow and even reposition themselves, so anchoring items can cause problems. Website structure is essentially formed on a grid (i.e. squares or rectangles), so using curves or arcs for structure or navigation is problematic.

Who Can Use It?

It is important to accommodate people with differing abilities. Is your website fully navigatable using only the TAB and arrow keys? Are images described using ALT text for audible readers? Is there a navaigation and design consistency to facillitate use? Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were developed to facilitate Internet availability to everyone. Some regions even have legislation enforcing specfic accessibility design guidelines (such as the Accesibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act).

Size Matters

More and more people are surfing the Internet on handheld devices. This means that they are often using their phone data plans and are cursing your larger image files; both for the time it takes to download and the bandwidth it costs.

(NB Yes, I realize that our website is sorely lacking and is cetainly not an ambassador for current design trends. But that isn’t because we don;t realize the problems, we just need to finish up some client websites and find a little more time for our own!)

Help me complete my list, what other items should clients consider when creating a website?