August 15, 2012
Good web UI design is a process. As the Guardian recently pointed out, you wouldn't build a house without blueprints, so why create a website without a plan? No website should be lacking a plan, not only for its creation but for its future as well, and great web design will use that plan to satisfy users' need for information, delivered in a pleasing and intuitive way.
The news source noted that, because of the availability cheap templates and online guides, anyone can build a website today. However, to create a website that is easy to read, fun to visit and popular among its users, a business needs to invest in more than templates and do-it-yourself walkthroughs. Web GUI design is an investment for the future, and by investing wisely, even small companies can see a return quickly. However, in order to achieve this, every business needs a plan.
The first step in creating a great website is figuring out the intended audience, and ensuring that the design appeals to them. An architect would not design a house in Alaska without heating, so why create a website that doesn't meet the needs of the customers it is intended for? If the website is designed for a car company, it should appeal to the same sense that the business' automobiles do, be it sleek and speedy or luxurious and comfortable.
Map it out
According to the news source, the next step in the process is to "map out the user journey." Any business looking to make money off its website has to know how users are going to arrive at the site, what they will be looking for and what information it wants them to leave with. This helps keep the design intuitive without overwhelming users with too much data. Additionally, it also helps the company better understand how its customers use the web, which can lead to future improvements for the site.
Every site has to have an objective. Whether it is to entertain or inform, websites are there for a reason, and if that reason doesn't appeal to the users, the site won't receive any traffic. User polls and the expertise of design professionals can help a business anticipate why its customers visit the site, what they will be looking for and how to best deliver it to them.
The last step in creating any site is the details. This is also the most important step, as it can easily make or break the design. Too much attention to detail can overwhelm users, make it difficult to navigate the site or result in simply too much being offered. On the other hand, not enough detail leads to a bland, unmemorable experience that will result in low traffic. Finding the balance between the two depends not only on the audience, but also the type of site. A technology website needs high levels of detail, while a town volunteer portal may require simply a signup form and meeting times. Finding that balance will help the company ensure the success of its site.
Ultimately, creating a good website will result in better business and is worth the investment. Any company can slap together a website, but creating a versatile, high-quality online portal shows customers that the business cares about them, and could improve the company's image as well as its profits.