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12 8 Essential Tips to Guide Your Web Design Project

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Jay Baron – Enjoy!

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photo credit: bibliojojo

Too often, when small businesses are redesigning their websites, they lose focus. They get caught up trying to design something super flashy and cool, instead of something that’s going to help consumers.

Designers even encourage this routine, because it secures their unlimited all-you-can-design fun passes. With “make website pretty” as the agreed-upon primary goal, designers can focus on creating uber-creative sites without being bothered by annoying distractions like measurable outcomes and ROI.

The problem with pretty websites is that they don’t do much more than look pretty. They don’t work.

After participating in countless design projects for small businesses through Madtown, I know the difference between a pretty website and a functional one, and I know what likely happened in the design room to lead to each result.

Here are 8 important tips to tuck away for the day you launch your next website redesign project. If you remember and actually follow these guidelines, it’ll help ensure that your next website is rooted in usability and business strategy, rather than ambiguous creativity.

1. Trust is the currency of success

Trust is the backbone of any design project. Accomplishing big things takes a lot of trust between designer and client. If you don’t trust your designer enough to let him run the show, you need to find another designer.

2. Content is design, too

The way you tell your story, describe your product or service, and present your tone and mood are just as important as the visual aspects of your website. People want to know what you’re offering and what makes you unique, which is something design can’t do on its own.

Remember: people visit websites to learn things and to figure out how to solve their problems, not to marvel at cool designs.

3. Designs always go out of style

Don’t worry about website design trends. They’re constantly changing, and they’ll do nothing but ensure that your website will look outdated in a few years. (“Look at this guy, still doing the minimalist thing!”)

Focus on providing real value and connecting people to the solutions to their problems, and let the rest fall into place naturally.

4. You’re not just designing, you’re solving problems

You will never have all the answers for your small business. Which means it’s never time to stop listening to new ideas, even–or especially–if they come from your website designer.

Design projects start with business problems, so your designer is going to be very familiar with what’s not working at your company. Really great designers have an inherent ability to not only identify those deficiencies, but to help you find solutions for them.

5. It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Websites are rarely successful the day they’re launched. After a website goes live, dozens of unchecked tasks remain on the To Do list: thing like AdWords, social media, analytics, heat maps, SEO, testing, and updates. These and countless other changes and problems will continue to present themselves for eternity, regardless of how strong your initial design was

What might work today could become ineffective 3 months from now. That doesn’t mean the idea was wrong in the first place–just that it’s no longer right.

6. Simplicity is power

Always keep a laser focus on what really matters for your business. If your main goal is to generate leads, don’t lose focus by adding other features that don’t help accomplish this.

7. Fear is healthy

It’s easy to get comfortable and complacent when all you care about is putting something on the internet that’s fun to look at. But if launching your new website doesn’t scare you even a little, you’re probably too focused on the design rather than the outcomes.

Fear also comes from taking risks. You can keep updating your website every few years, or you can try to do something unique and, by extension, scary.

8. The journey is part of the fun

There is no such thing as an overnight success. Starting a business takes years of hard work, lots of mistakes, and a smattering of small victories. You better be in it not only to summit the mountain, but to appreciate the climb.

Business owners often think that if they can just get a killer website that generates a bunch of leads, their business will change. And when that doesn’t happen, they’re quick to blame their designer, who did nothing but give the business owner exactly what he asked for: a cool website.

jay-baronJay Baron is a brand strategist at Madtown and Mighty Zombie.  You can follow him on Google+ and Twitter.