How would you like your [website developed]? | The ultimate guide to good design

At VantagePoint, we have this comical chart that hangs up in the Creative Studio that always makes us chuckle, mostly because it’s true. The title: “How would you like your [insert creative deliverable here]?” The chart sarcastically maps out results we all believe we can avoid, but it’s actually grounded in reality.

  • Fast + Cheap = Dipped in ugly sauce with haste and carelessness
  • Fast + Cheap + Great = Impossible Utopia
  • Fast + Free + Great…. Well, you get the idea

No great deliverable comes from rushing through or avoiding a process or from trying to patch one together on the cheap, and that’s just as true for a website as it is for any creative project. So we’ve put together the following seven steps for ensuring your next website development project doesn’t end up at the center of a Venn diagram of poor planning, wishful thinking and boring design.

  1. Stay apprised of website best practices. It’s not enough to have to “grand vision”; you need to stay on top of what competitors are doing on the web front and ensure that you’re implementing modern design principles that at minimum compete with other sites in the industry.
  2. Ensure full buy-in of wireframes. When developing the page structure and interfaces before the actual design process begins, it’s imperative to get full-in buy in from your team or client before moving forward into the graphics and copy. These should be considered the “blueprint” — the bones that provide the foundation for your website house. The second you decide to start adding bathrooms and a second kitchen on a foundation not designed to support them, things can go awry quickly.
  3. Be responsive. This one we hope is self-evident, but in this day and age, all new websites should be designed to be responsive across all platforms for an enhanced customer experience.
  4. Pay close attention to the intent of your home page. As the first content your audience will land on when they interact with your brand, this page should be engaging at first view with constantly refreshed and rotating content.
  5. If you’ve got assets, flaunt them. Consider a knowledge or resource center to showcase value-added content. A strong content marketing strategy deserves its own hub, so develop a robust resource center that displays those thought leadership pieces of content and shows your customers what you’re all about.
  6. Integrate video, infographics and other engaging content. You’ve heard it before — it’s all about that first impression. Engagement boosts messaging, and motion graphics, videos, animations, infographics or other engaging visual content catches the eye of a visitor and is more apt to pique their curiosity and keep them poking around the site to learn more. And studies have shown four times as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than read about it.
  7. Offer tools, wizards or calculators. Once you’ve gotten your audience’s attention with engaging content on the homepage, think through how to keep them on the site by interacting with a tool, wizard or calculator that helps showcase your brand’s product offerings, segment expertise and brand promise.

Have you come across a website that was particularly well designed? Or one that clearly broke all these rules? Share your best and worst experiences in the comments below. And check out our 10 tips for a successful website launch.

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