The design of your website is not the same thing as web page design. The design of a website should be 100% aligned with the overall purpose of the website.
For example, from an aesthetics perspective a shopping website will be more visually oriented (lots of photo's and graphics) than an insurance website that will likely have more text.
Functionally a shopping website will need a shopping cart, payment processor such as PayPal, Worldpay or 2CO and possibly an affiliate marketing program. An insurance website will need tools for online chat and insurance quotes.
A website design project should address the following topics:
If your website is properly search engine optimized, first impressions can occur on any page of your website since search engines direct visitors to relevant web pages based on the search term(s).
However, the main home page will probably be the natural first destination for the majority of your website visitors
To ensure an effective first impression, the design goal is to deliver an exceptional user experience.
A user's experience is influenced by a number of factors. Some of these factors are not within your control (for example, outstandingly unique web fonts!)
For example, because of the everyday experiences with LOTS of other websites out there, user's may expect the following content and features:
The list of functional elements required by a website is very much dependent on the purpose of the site and the goals of the website owner.
For example, a website for a professional services type of business (e.g. accountant, solicitor, estate agent) could definitely benefit from a Blog/Articles function to generate authoritative content and increase the "stickiness" of website visitors.
There is a caution here though -- try to avoid a "shiny object syndrome" (i.e. including a feature just because it's snazzy or trendy). Instead use a basic scoring or ranking system to evaluate the functional elements to include on your site.
Consider the following criteria and recommendation as a starting point for evaluating each function:
Web page content includes text, advertisements, images, video and links. The most important content element is the text. The quality of original text-based content on a website will have a dramatic impact on user experience and search engine optimization.
For example, a web page that has text content interspersed with too many advertisements and you risk alienating your visitors. Experience the visitor departure right after they've clicked on a search result in Google search engine results page and your site may suffer "negative-SEO".
Images and video's definitely add visual impact to your website design and should be incorporated to improve the user experience first before satisfying any search engine optimisation goals.
The links on a page (not including text-based advertisements) should also serve to improve the user experience and lead the reader around your website. Links that lead to external websites should be carefully positioned and managed. This is explored in more detail in your linking strategy.
Creating a promotional plan is a critical deliverable for your website design project. Executing this plan as a series of clearly defined activities should be incorporated into the regular operations of your business.
If you cannot commit to a regular schedule of website promotion campaigns then reconsider undertaking each activity in the first place.
Your original website design must factor-in promotional elements otherwise there is a risk that a website re-design will be required to take advantage of promotional tools and services. The following is a list of common promotional elements and the design impact:
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