the latest from 2am Media

26 Apr

Research Orientated Website Design


What’s the first thing you should consider when your thinking about a new web design?

Most design agencies would have you believe the most important thing is the colour or the logo or the branding, most clients will come to 2am and be fixated by how the logo should look on the page and how the website should portray the brand.

Of course this is important, however that’s not the first thing you need to do. Before you even think about putting pen to paper (so to speak) you need to do your homework.

At 2am we refer to this as Research Orientated Design.

What is Research Orientated Web Design?

To get the best results you need a plan, the better the plan the better the results and the better the execution of the process.

What web design elements work?

Some things work and some things don’t, there are general themes that you’ll see from one website to another, areas of commonality, sizes of websites etc.  A good web designer won’t throw these out of the window in a fit of creativity; a good designer will work these aspects into the design without it being blatant.

Check out other websites and see what they are doing.  Look at the website designs in the market sector you’re designing for, find out what they have in common and rationalise why there might be this commonality, it may be because a design feature is especially effective to a certain target market, there again it may be because the design element was well implemented once and copied by the other websites you’ve reviewed.

I’d always suggest having at least 3 but preferably 5 websites of competitors to review what they are doing, remember to have the market leaders as well as the closest competitors.

Once you’ve checked out the competitors have a look at some of the bigger brands out there that you don’t necessarily compete with, a big brand will often have spent a lot of time, money and consideration of the elements on their web design.  My two all time favourite websites are the BBC and Apple.

What’s so good about the BBC’s web design?

The BBC is probably one of the biggest websites out there, certainly one of the biggest broadcasting and information resources there is.  They also stand at the forefront of web design and they always have.  In fact, it’s part of the BBC’s mandate to be at the forefront as a driver of media development.

Check out the way they position their search box, look at how big their mast head is, look at how wide the website is, how they position their images – also have a look at how you can personalise their site – this is something we’ll be seeing loads more of in the future.

What’s so good about the Apple website?

The thing about Apple is, they’re Mac slick – that’s to say they put some emphasis on design in everything they do whether that be building a simple application for the Mac or a full scale Apple website.

They use more images than most, and they can get away with that because they’re a big brand, they’re always really good at buttons, everything always feels buttony which I love.  I also like the way they’ve used the Apple logo for their Home link in the sitewide navigation.  I’ve started to see this being implemented in other designs as well.

Why do keyword research before the design process?

You wouldn’t believe how many design agencies will carry out web design without conducting keyword research.  Keyword research is a fundamental part of the web design process, you need to know what people are looking for this will determine what actually goes on the page as well as in the navigation structure.

Keyword research will also inform you of the language you need to use in buttons and calls to action and if you want your website to perform well in the search engines then you need to build your site from the ground up with SEO in mind – that means from the design stage, don’t just tack it onto the end and expect the site to perform – because it probably won’t.

So make sure this is on your web design checklist.

Why research is important in web design

Ever heard the old saying, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”?  Web design is a classic case, you’ve got to get your brief water tight, if it’s not the web design will bob back and forth and no one will be happy with the process or the outcome.

That’s why 2am put research, web design knowledge and understanding at the heart of our design process – plus we’re always learning.

Without the research orientated web design approach there’s no way we could have achieved the success for our clients that we have done time and time again.

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