When going though the layouts and structures of the website, one of the main things to incorporate in to this stage is your features, and how you want your website to function, so that the designer can design and take extra precautions into designing this features for your website. As if features are not mentioned in the early stages of the project, the design might get completed without such features and functions being done, which can cause delays and extra work in your project.
So what is the best way to get a designer to come up with a good website layout?
Understanding: First things first, are to make sure that the designer or the design team whether it is the project manager or a freelancer, is on the same wave lengths as you are. That they understand your project and what you are looking to achieve out of your project. Give as much as possible information about your going to be website, from company background, your business style, the things you like, and dislike. What ever it maybe, just throw it out at the designer. He will capture some and start to paint a picture of your website in the mind.
If you're concerned about giving away too much information, you can get a non-disclosure agreement signed between the two parties.
Features: Once you're the design team know what your project is all about, next thing is to discuss what you want and how you want things to work on your website. Again, mention as much as possible, if you’re not quite sure what you want. Show the designers some websites that you like, and how’s things work on such websites, so that they can help you building your features. The best way to do this, is to have a feature list mentioning all the features whether its small or big for example:
- Top Navigation, with Hover effect, and drop down menus
- Sliding banners (you can even mention how you want them to slide J)
- Light box pop after 5 seconds
- Subscribe to newsletter box
- Events section displayed on home page
- Latest blog post
- Social Media Icons….etc.
The list can be as long as you want it to be.
By building and going though such a list, you can than together decide on what exactly you want to keep on the page, and what you want to take off, and when the designer starts to design the layout, they can use such a list as a “To Do List” ensuring that they have not missed anything out.
Now you do not need to do this alone, this exercise can also be done together with the design team, or if you prefer not to get involved at all, you can request them to send you a feature list which you just have to approve and sign off.
Wireframes: You can take a step further, and if you want provide a wireframes or sketched diagrams to the designers, if you know exactly what you are looking for. This will simplify the whole design process, as than the concept is already half created, it just needs to be bought to reality. Again, this is something that you and the designers can do together or request it to be done for you before they start the designs.
Points to consider in the layout
Beauty: Beauty lies in simplicity, do not over complicate your website with lots of flying colors, and many features happening all together. The user of the website will get distracted which will defat the purpose that you are looking to achieve. Consider the purpose of the website, and base your design around this, as this will reduce bounce rates of your website, and engage your victors longer on the page.
Search Box: By having a search box on the website, will allow victors to quickly search for something that they are looking for. Position the search box at the top of the site somewhere where it’s easy to use.
Subscription: Whether its subscribing to your sites RSS, or email newsletter, encourage visitors to subscribe to your site, so that you can reach out to more users, and also build your audience and email list.
Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs have couple of benefits, one that the user knows exactly where they are and can navigate backwards, and also it helps search engines to categories your website into relevant categories.
Good Navigation: Navigation is one of the important pat of a website, and making it attractive, visible and easy to use is the key, so that users can flow though your website with ease.
Above the fold: Don’t you find it annoying when you have to scroll down a page to find something, well aim to keep your website above the fold of the screen, or display the important parts above the fold. This will help you in your conversion.
Not to many links: Sometimes you may think in the footer I will have links to so and so place, not a good idea, keep links to a minimum at least less than 100 per page.
Social Media: Display your social media profile icons on the page, and encourage users to share your sites content on social networking sites.
By going though above points and working with your design team together you can come up with a website that's not just good to look at, but a website that is user friendly, a website that will work for your business, and a website that will also be welcomes by search engines.