As much as you can’t paint every person and every project with the same broad brush, there are some common practices in designing a new website that simply need to go because they’re not good. Some of these are firmly entrenched in the way businesses go about projects, so they may be tough to overcome. But you simply must get past them in order for your web design firm to deliver a quality product.
Design by Committee
Many companies will assemble a task force or committee to oversee the development of a new website. The smallest decisions are pored over endlessly by the group, with each person making sure their opinions are represented. Many of these choices should be made before the project even begins. For example, fonts, colors and logo usage should be determined by your corporate style guide. That way, 10 people don’t waste precious time and money debating these details.
In the end, in an effort to please everyone, your site ends up satisfying no one. Keep your web design group to a minimum. This will ensure the project moves along efficiently, and it minimizes the number of points of contact your web design company has to deal with.
Ignoring Your Users
Many times throughout the day we make choices on instinct: we go with our gut. Your website is intended to serve a critical business function: informing your users about your products and services, and ultimately selling to them. Your own personal preferences about certain design elements, content and functionality must be second to the needs and desires of your customers. They, not you, are the target audience for your website, so their behaviors and preferences must be taken into account.
Everything Must be Represented on the Homepage
Visit the home pages of AOL or Yahoo and notice what’s there: everything. Sadly, these sites are better than they used to be. Every department or service line in your company will likely want some of that prime front page real estate. Or maybe you believe every product deserves to be placed there because–of course–everything you make or sell is important.
This is outdated thinking, and it will kill the user experience on your site. Focus instead on highlighting, maybe even on a rotating basis, a few key elements of your company. Make it easy to find products and services in the navigation. Ensure that your search function is robust. You don’t walk into a hardware store and find their entire inventory piled on the floor in front of you. Customers expect content to be organized by section, so rather than creating a giant mess right out of the gate, instead make it easy for them to find what they need within the site.
Micromanaging Your Designer
Your web designer likely has years of experience, and probably went to school for some years to learn their trade. You, on the other hand, are the expert in your business. Your designer should rely on your for your expertise in your field, and you should rely on them for theirs. Hovering over their shoulder nitpicking every step along the web design process will only serve to accomplish two things: both of you will be frustrated, and your site will end up sub-par.
Design is a process of steps. Whether it’s a graphical element or a web application, it takes time and a series of iterations to bring it to completion. Micromanaging your web designer will make this process take longer, because you may be focused on what’s in front of you without knowing what the final result will be (missing the forest for the trees). Lay out your goals clearly in the beginning, and let your web designer wow you with the final product.