Web Design – How long is a piece of string?

Web Design

“I want a web site.” There’s never been so much, or so little encapsulated in such an innocent phrase. When used without any further qualification it has web designers and IT consultants in despair! Why? Let me elaborate….

A web site can contain a single page or several thousand pages. A web site can do nothing apart from show you images and words or it can be a fully fledged application with interactivity and many, many man hours of coding of the bits you see and the bits that you don’t see. In fact to ask for a piece of string without specifying its length seems positively simple in comparison.

So, how does an IT expert respond so such a nebulous 5 words? My response is to ask: “What do you want the web site to do?” Usually this is followed by a long moment of stunned silence as the business owner is faced for the first time with the concept of purpose. The bottom line is, if you don’t know what you want your web site to do for you, then why spend a significant amount of money on one. And how are you going to be satisfied that the web designer has done what you ask if you don’t know yourself?

So, if you’re considering investing in your first web site, or considering changing what you already have the first question to ask yourself is this: what do I want my web site to achieve?

Grace Magazine Web Site Design

Grace Magazine

I’ve just completed a redesign of the web site for Grace Magazine. They wanted to go for a more contemporary look than the previous site, whilst simplifying the access to the content of previous issues. The previous site was overly complex with some broken links, so we reduced the navigation to a small set of main navigation tabs. This makes it simpler to see what is on offer. The home page was to contain a description of the latest magazine with a link to previous issues.

As with all design work, it is often necessary to put something together based on an initial specification in order to allow the client to see and decide which direction to go. We went through a couple of design iterations that weren’t quite contemporary enough, but arrived at a bold modern style with direct links to excerpts from the magazines in PDF format. Take a look and see what you think…

Grace Magazine Iterations

What should your web site do?

Web-Site-Design

What is a web site, and what should it do for your business? For many small businesses there is a feeling that a web site is important, but not much of an idea as to why, or what it should do.

The most important consideration for the small business is what the web site will do for them. For many this is purely informational – an online shop window so that potential customers can find them and find out a little about them before picking up the phone or making a visit. For others it’s about relationship – regular communication about what the business is doing. For many larger businesses the web site acts as a point of sale where purchases may be made. The type of site depends very much on the type of business: often a business requires the personal touch, a face to face meeting before the sale of a product or service; for others with low value, large quantity sales this is not an issue, it’s all about making the purchase easy.

Before considering your web site it is worth asking the question for your business: What do I want this to do for us? If you don’t know this, then you will never be sure it’s achieving the end result.