Website Design

The Secret to Purposeful Website Design

April 2016
Che Stevenson

What is the secret to purposeful website design? Well the answer is pretty boring really: planning.

I can hear you yawning from all the way over here. And I can just see your mouse hovering over the back button! But if you stick with me you'll see that a little bit of planning goes a long way.

You see, if we just jump into a website design looking at the surface first we are missing an opportunity to appreciate the real reason for the site's existence and to design so that it fully realises this potential.

That's the fundamental problem with 'site factories' like Shopify and Wix: we look at them and go 'That looks great, wouldn't it be awesome if my site looked like that!'. Then we proceed to shoehorn our needs into this shiny new box without stepping back and figuring out if that box is really fit for purpose.

The process for 'Purposeful Website Design' as outlined above starts at the most abstract strategic level and proceeds up to the specific design in such a way that the fundamental needs of the website are met.

At the strategy stage we determine what are the success factors that will determine whether the site is a winner or not. We get a solid understanding of the users and the outcomes that we want to see from the site.

With the strategy bedded down we outline the requirements in a broad scope document that is a simple written reference for what we are trying to do.

Next the site structure is mapped out so we can see where all of the areas of the site are placed and how they interlink.

Only now do we get close to a design, with a simple wireframe mockup of key pages of the site. Wireframes force us to focus on layout and useability without being distracted by colours, fonts, and design elements.

And finally, with everything clearly planned, structured, and mapped out, we can overlay the specific design style and brand guidelines. This is usually very easy by this stage, and we can purely focus on creating a beautiful and functional realisation of the site structure.

This process is clear and purposeful, leading to website designs that meet their stated objectives and are fully fit for purpose. To us, this is the only way to design websites. We don't do it any other way.

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