woman at a desk drafting a website outline

Building a functional website

If you’re reading this post you’re probably in one of these situations;

  • You’ve got a business and your ready to expand your reach with a website.
  • You’ve already got a website, but you are looking to make a change or do a refresh.
  • You’re a start-up, getting ready to launch and you need a website to assist you.

When it comes to building and designing your website there are plenty of blog posts and guides that would be able to help you out with fantastic tips and tutorials that explain the tiniest of details. Creating a website can take a lot of time, especially if you are looking at doing it for yourself rather than hiring a designer or developer, one of the reasons for this is the need to get things right. In this post we want to cover one of the larger topics that filters into out design reasoning;

UX design theory and the customer journey

We build websites based on design theory or UX design integrated within the customer journey. Think of this in the context of a brick and mortar shop, we all know that shops will lay their products out in a fashion that tries to lead you past those items that they really want you to buy. Aldi and Lidl are two shops that are quite good at doing this, instead of separating out their stock into defined sections they split the aisles down the middle so that when you are walking past the biscuits on the left hand side you’ve also noticed a candle, lawnmower and a bird feeder on the right. How many times have you gone into Aldi to pick up milk and come out of the shop with a set of razors, a flapjack making machine and a bottle of silver spray paint for a radiator…

Now, that example is specific (I only used the flapjack maker once, I quickly realised how much butter goes into those things!) however, your website works in the same way. You will have a goal that you want your customers, clients or readers to reach, that might be buying your most recent product, searching your website for information or reading your content. Depending on that goal your website will need to follow certain rules to make sure that people are being led to the right place.

As we are building something creative that represents your brand we follow design theory or UX design that helps to make sure that your customers are getting to the right place at the right times.

This is one of the ways that we often find ourselves bumping heads with clients. You might have a great idea for a layout which is aesthetically pleasing and has all of the buttons that you want to go onto a page but it’s likely that the idea needs to be curated to make sure that it’s functional and that it’s truly helping your customer reach their intended destinations.

Here are some common issues that we come across with websites, specifically home pages:

  1. Way too many buttons, you need to keep the number of calls to action on your home page low. They should all directly relate to the customer journey that you’d like them to go on. Instead of casting a wide net with a million buttons, bring the number down to attend to those customers that you’ve built personas for.
  2. Overwhelm, think about the times that you spend browsing websites. What are some of the things that instantly make you leave a website the moment google has transferred you over? The answer is most likely, I couldn’t find what I was looking for quickly enough and it’s easier to go back to Google and look at the next link down in the options.

It’s so easy to just try and get all the information about you, your business, your goals, ethos, portfolio, shop, blog etc all onto one page but this doesn’t make for a good reading experience. It means the reader needs to filter through everything on the page and find out the relevant parts for themselves rather than being led directly to them.

Wait, does this mean that long form web pages don’t work?

It’s the exact opposite. Long form content on web pages can work well, but they need to be created as a story for the reader to go from A to Z without getting bored or getting confused and going somewhere else. This is no easy feat and it means two things;

  1. You need to have a very solid understanding of your market and your personas. If you have a website in this fashion you will have probably brought your market down to a very specific type of person or a set of people that have a solid goal or aim for using your website/product. This way you can aim the content to speak directly to them rather than using broad sweeping statements that are applicable to absolutely everyone.
  2. Secondly, long form pages work best for products that are more involved or expensive. You will find them being used for people trying to sell long term usage products or products that need a lot of explanation/trust signalling to get a buy in.

This type of website certainly does work, there are a huge amount out there that are converting readers into buyers. If you read them, you’ll find that they are structured perfectly, and they follow a similar rule to the one that we’ve discussed already – there won’t be a huge amount of CTA’s dotted everywhere drawing attention away from the home page.

Following the UX design principles for your own website

What do you need to do to make sure that your website is following the UX design principles that we’ve covered in this post;

  • Start with a solid idea of who you’re trying to sell to.
  • Decide on the goals that your market will have when coming to your website.
  • Build a basic outline of what your website will cover and how you want your customer to flow through it from A to Z.
  • Write a list of the calls to actions that you need to have covered on your home page (this will relate to the goals that you came up with for the market and the customer journey).

This will give you a good starting point to work from, this is something that we do for every client to make sure that we are making a website that is fit for purpose for every client.

If you’d like to have a chat with us about creating your new website/refreshing one and making sure that you are hitting all the right notes in terms of design and user experience then contact us at hello@avidmode.com

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