What Your Web Design Agency Should Know
Although web design best practices have evolved over the years, some things have not. In this article we will discuss the 7 web design best practices that your web design agency should know.
1. Know Your Business
Your web design agency does not need to know how to modify your software architecture, increase efficiencies in your manufacturing process or develop new service lines. However, your web design agency does need to understand your business fundamentals: who you are, your core values, what you do, who you do it for and how you differentiate yourself from your competition. Your web design agency should also understand your culture. A tech startup in San Francisco, for example, will have a vastly different culture than a manufacturer in Waco, Texas.
2. Know Your Target Audience
As mentioned above, your web design agency needs to know your target audience. Most organizations have multiple audiences, so your web design agency needs to know how to structure your website architecture to cater to each specific audience.
3. Content & Information Architecture
They say on the web that content is king, and this is true. But content left unchecked can quickly become a vast wasteland of dead, scrolling pages that customers will either ignore or become so frustrated with that they leave the website. Whether your new website is using re-purposed content or you are creating fresh content, it needs to be well organized. Information architecture is the process in which your web design agency will effectively organize your content. This includes creating navigation schemas, page wireframes and search systems that will provide the blueprint for a well organized website.
4. Design, Design, Design
Content defines information architecture, information architecture defines design, design defines how successful your new website will be in the eyes of your customer. I describe information architecture as the UI (user interface) and design as the UX (user experience). The design of your website will represent you in the most practical sense, and it needs to be a true representative of your business. Your web design agency should create a custom design based on collaboration and focused on UX on both desktop and mobile views. The process of building a website that adapts itself according to screen size and device is called responsive web design, which is an absolute standard in 2018. If your web design agency does not use responsive web design on its own site or client examples run away. Don’t look back, just run away. A good tool to test for responsive web design can be found at Responsinator: https://www.responsinator.com/.
5. Content Management System
Your web design agency should build your website using a content management system, or CMS, that is intuitive, robust, scalable, flexible and open source (non proprietary). WordPress is the most popular open source CMS in the world and is our recommended CMS of choice. With WordPress, you get all of the advantages of using a content management system without any of the drawbacks, including ease of use for non-programmers, a large online community of add-on developers, security and perhaps most importantly for small business owners, no license fees. If your web design agency is pushing you towards a licensed platform ask them how it has any advantage over WordPress in regards to these factors.
6. Calls to Action
Calls to action are the most important psychological drivers on your website. They drive users to desirable outcomes you have already identified during the planning stages of your website. Your web design agency should work with you to help determine the calls to action and make certain that they take priority in the overall flow and structure of your website. Calls to action can include filling out a request form, signing up for a newsletter, register as a customer, make a purchase or join your social networks. The flow of the website in regards to calls to action should be designed during the information architecture and design phase of the project. All calls to action should be measurable via analytics.
7. Web Standards
Web standards are invisible, but critical to the overall success of your website. Web standards ensure that with compliance your website will be optimized for search engine optimization (SEO), cross browser compatibility, mobile device compatibility, site performance and accessibility. The most popular web standards are the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the “Living Standard” created by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) and 508c3 government standards for accessibility compliance. To test your website for W3C compliance go to https://validator.w3.org/. Ask your web design agency about web standards. Have them place a web standards compliance guarantee in their service and maintenance agreements.
This list of web design best practices is just the tip of the iceberg and I will be adding more components in more blogs to come. The purpose of this article is to help you determine which web design agency is best for you. After all, you are the last word on whether or not it fails or succeeds.