First Steps in Web Design
Initially, the most important aspect is to have a clear definition of the objectives, and an understanding of what is involved in reaching set goals. One approach is to begin with a test site and gauge the reaction from a sample of your target audience. For a site intended to be revenue- generating, it is important to get the aesthetics right. Money spent on professional advice at this early stage is well spent.
Sites that Appeal
When dealing with new clients, we usually ask them to find ten sites that appeal -- five in the same area of business, five not. Taking this personal-preference into account, and making an estimate of what these selected sites might have cost, we can give guidance on what could be achieved within a set budget.
The funds available will always dictate the quality of a web-site. As mentioned before, a basic web-site can be established at virtually no cost. For many, this may not be a bad starting point. It should provide a base to focus attention on the areas that are important, and help develop an understanding of the design process. A substantial part of the budget for a commercial site should be allocated to creating the design. This must be a good fit with the products or services on offer.
Available Skills & Resources
Every organisation or person developing a web-site has a set of skills that should be put to good use. At Gendec Design, we are comfortable working at all levels to supplement the existing skill-base.
For a site to attract traffic in its own right, it needs a catchy Domain-Name. In general, shorter is better. Ideally, it should convey the concept of the site in one or two words [ or 'almost' words ].
Choice is becoming more restricted, so imagination is the key here. For a site which caters to a client base in a single country, a geo-specific domain-name is fine e.g. my-domain.com.au. For a world-audience, .COM is the preferred suffix. There are quite a number of alternative extensions for those who have a real need for a specific name.
Bland versus Fancy
The Internet is now very well established, and there are probably very few things that have not already been tried. Observation of the way that web-sites have evolved over the past ten years shows that "Bland is Best". Many experiments with fancy interfaces have lost sight of why a visitor comes to a particular site. If you are developing an entertainment-related site, then you can pretty much start with a clean canvas. However, if you are providing information, or a sales channel, then there is a reasonably rigid format that has become the de facto standard.
Getting the Site on the Radar
Even at the early stages of a web-site project, it is worthwhile thinking about how to get the name 'out there'. There are many tricks related to improving search rankings -- some of them are free. A simple way to gain exposure is to look at companies you are associated with. If what you do is complementary to what they do, they should be willing to provide a link to your site. Similarly, you could link to their site. Note that this will work best if both sites are of a similar quality.