Web design can be a complicated beast, especially for anyone unfamiliar with the industry.
These 5 exercises will help you:
- Simplify your website redesign
- Tighten your design scope
- Speed up production
- Reduce your final budget (even if you can’t answer everything)
For your first exercise, you’ll want to begin a high-level bulleted list of the top pages needed on your website. These high-level pages include, among others, your Home page, About, and Contact pages.
Once you have the top level listed, add sub-bullets to these top level pages, to describe any items needed on each page. These items can include login buttons, blog posts, content carousels, etc.
If you have a solid vision of your website outline, or already have a current website, you can also take this outline one level deeper, listing the second-level pages that will branch out from your high-level pages.
Even if you’re already budgeting for UX and UI work, this exercise will help strengthen your understanding of the scale of your new website, and call attention to it’s key areas of focus.
Websites You Do (and Especially Don’t) Like
Next, you’ll want to create a list of 6 sites you like, and 6 websites you do not. In web design, everything is subjective. When you explain why you do, or do not, like certain aspects of specific web pages, you dramatically increase the odds that your project and agency can live up to your expectations, without destroying your budget.
Some key questions to answer include:
- “What specifically do you like about the design aesthetic (i.e., color, typography, layout, space, and visuals)?”
- “Is there a specific design style that speaks to you and your business?”
- “What design styles do not represent you and your brand?”
- “What type of content (i.e., copy, images, video, motion graphics, icons, and infographics) do you find compelling and important to your website?”
- “Is there specific interactivity you feel your new website needs?”
Your design may not incorporate everything you mention (as not every option will align with your goals and objectives), but it will help the designer, the UX person, and the agency take the right path.
This exercise sparks a conversation with your agency, giving them a better understanding for the level of quality and type of website you are seeking.
Our third exercise establishes who will be (or already is) visiting your site, with detailed buyer personas. As Kim Goodwin states in Designing for the Digital Age, “Personas are archetypes that describe the various goals and observed behavior patterns among your potential users and customers.”
Your persona(s) should drive every aspect of your business, and are a critical component of any website design project. This exercise ensures that you and your partner agency can tailor every aspect of your website design (and marketing) to your unique users.
The fourth exercise will establish the goals for your project. You know your market better than anyone. Why are your users visiting your site? Where do you want to lead them?
What are your end goals for your users? To have them forwarded as leads to your sales team? Make a purchase? Donate to your cause? Read your articles? Download your app? Advocate for your brand?
Your end goals likely include several of these options. By answering these questions ahead of time, your agency can develop all of your website interactions to funnel your users towards your end goals.
Our last exercise involves knowing what systems your company is using (or plans to use), and what tools you need integrated with your site.
For example, if you use Salesforce, or marketing automation software like HubSpot, they will need to be integrated with your new design.
Even if you are just seeking new systems and tools, you will want to make this clear with your agency, as they each have specific integration requirements. Your agency should always be able to guide you in the right direction (for example, if you’re not a technical person, they will likely guide you to a more user-friendly CMS like WordPress, rather than Drupal).
Knowing this all up-front allows your agency to keep your scope down, develop faster solutions, and avoid busting your budget trying to squeeze in last-minute changes which could have been avoided.
As helpful as these 5 exercises are, don’t feel like you have to answer every single question. If you have all of the answers, fantastic. If not, every piece helps, no matter how large or small, and your partner agency should work with you to fill in the blanks.