Hey there, so I’ve taken some time off. I was posting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until I discovered that it’s kind of difficult to pick a topic, research that topic, and talk confidently about that topic 3 times a week while also trying to be competent at my day job. So from now on I’ll most likely only post one of these bitches a week. That way I’m not posting just bull shit and I can better balance my workload.

So today I’m going to talk a little bit about web design and where to start. While having a great looking website isn’t as important as getting people to your website, it’s still pretty important. Many people, myself included, will visit your website before they ever set foot in your storefront. If the first opinion they get of your company is a negative one because your site looks like monkey dick then you’re not doing yourself any favors.

So where do you start? Glad I asked me for you. Coming up with a design can seem kind of like trying to conjure up fire from thin air. Maybe you have some ideas but organizing them into a cohesive web design isn’t going well for you. This post is going to cover some things to account for when gathering information along with what to do with that information once it’s gathered.

1. Have a strong grasp of your company’s brand.

It’s helpful to have a good grasp on your company’s brand, that is, your company colors, logo, general vibe, etc. Because whatever design you eventually land on should strongly voice your company’s brand. But having a good grasp on the brand itself is helpful because you’ll most likely need to extrapolate a little bit. Sure you’ll use the typography, logo, colors, and everything else you can use from the branding guidelines but a website can be a pretty complex thing. Sometimes you’ll need images, textures, messaging and more that properly conveys the brand. For this step I recommend just going over the brand guidelines and maybe searching around to find other elements that match up with your branding.

2. Find some websites you like

I usually like to search around the web and find some websites that I really like the design of. Find 3 or so sites that you really like and compare and contrast them. Take the elements you like and add them to your design and leave out the things you don’t like. Of course, if you can find a way to take the things you like and put your own spin on them then that’s best. Finding elements in other websites helps though because starting with something on the canvas is easier to work with than just opening a photoshop file and staring at a blank canvas for hours trying to come up with something.

It’s good to really break down the sites you find though and analyze the subtleties of why they’re successful. Sometimes the thing you like on another site is only successful because of how it interacts with another piece of the website and pulling it out of that context can make it unsuccessful. The more you do this the better you’ll get at it.

3. Start Designing

People design in all different ways. Some people like pencil and paper, some people like photoshop or a graphic editing software, it all depends on your personal preference. After you’ve studied your brand and researched some design ideas you’ll want to start putting some things together graphically. Personally, I use photoshop because I’ve grown accustomed to it and can work quickly in it. Also, the websites I’ve researched I can screenshot different sections I like and paste them into the design to quickly throw ideas together.

When you’re putting ideas together keep in mind that usability is going to be an important factor in your design. Think about what you want your viewers to accomplish with your site and make sure you’re making that task as easy and quick as possible. I notice alot of companies will put this massive, full screen image header at the top of their home screen and yea that looks really cool but now the viewers have to click or scroll before they can get any more information or do anything on the site. In some cases this is alright, but make sure it’s alright for the site’s usability. A great design can be a headache if it affects usability.

4. Walk Away

I can’t be the only one who brainwashes himself into thinking something looks better than it does. I’ve worked on a million website designs and I found that walking away for a moment can help. Taking a step away and not looking at the design can help you better understand what your user will see when he or she initially arrives on the site. Taking a step away can bring into focus oddities in the design.

5. Get a Second, Third, and Fourth Opinion….and don’t get offended when they hate it

Listen, your design is your baby. You poured hours of energy and research and time into it. It’s tough to take constructive criticism especially from people with big opinions who haven’t worked on it at all. These outside opinions can point out things that maybe you didn’t see for some reason. I find it best to gather a slew of opinions and then address the factors that appear most in those opinions. If you have 10 people view the design and all 10 of them say that the button you spent 3 hours designing and tweaking is confusing then that sucks but it’s probably confusing and you’ll have to tweak it some more or nix it from the design. In the same token, if you have 10 people view it and only one of them has an issue with the button then maybe it’s not such a big deal.

Designing a web site can be a long road but it can be fun to do too. Just like anything else, the more you do it the better you’ll get and the more you’ll understand it. I hope I have addressed most of the main questions revolving around the process of designing a website. If not, hit me up and let’s talk some more.