3 key steps to successful website design close

Matt Jukes
Matt Jukes
In Musings, Codegent College
2nd December 2009
3 key steps to successful website design

I often get asked 'what makes a website design great?' So I thought I would put together what I feel are the 3 most important steps.

Step 1: Know your audience
Step 2: Know your audience
Step 3: Know your audience

This may sounds rather repetitive; however every design decision must come back to what your audience wants. So how do you get to know your audience?

  1. Define Your Audience
    I have lost count of the number of times a client has returned a creative brief to us with the audience section filled out with “equal split male & female, Aged 8 – 80”. That’s basically everyone except the family pet.

    Obviously, from a communications point of view this isn’t very useful. You talk to an 8 year old girl, very differently to her 80 year old grandfather. What we do here at codegent is try to break down this age demographic by looking at the reasons they will come to the site; the 8 year old needs help with her homework and her grandfather is part of a lobby group looking for information.
  2. Audience Interviews
    This step is too often forgotten in the design process; however nothing clears out the assumptions of a designer faster than a 5 minute chat with their audience. Ideally this is best done with a large sample size of random members of the target market but, as we all know, budget constraints don’t always make this possible. When this isn’t possible, we always make sure that we chat to at least a couple of people that fall into our target audience. It is an essential sanity check for all of our thinking.
  3. Research
    Once we know who will be coming to the site, we will go out and find out everything we can about them. How much time they spend at a computer, which sites they visit every day, what sort of things are they comfortable doing online. All of these questions (and many more) help us build up a profile of the target audience. It is from this profile that we are able to establish the most effective visual language with which to communicate with them.

Once we have gathered all of this information and come to our conclusions, we present this back to our clients, as this will be the reference point we are going to justify all of our decisions back to when we are working on the art direction & information structure of the work being produced. All of this “design work” has to be done before we can power up photoshop and get stuck into the visual phase.