In collaboration with Okolita Creative, I was involved in redesigning an existing website, restructuring its content, and establishing templates for its new CMS functionality. For me, the primary design challenge, however, involved creating dynamic and responsive graphic elements from brand guidelines initially created for print materials.
The key to a successful outcome is communication. In addition to numerous emails, meeting in person before starting any designing helps ensure a shared understanding and alignment regarding business goals and how the client wants to be reflected in the website.
Answering this question is the key to ensuring your actions align with your client’s expectations. For small, non-e-commerce businesses, the answer typically revolves around a few key areas: a clearer presentation of the products and services offered, the collection of new business leads, sharing company culture and values (to attract new hires), and providing contact information. Once you know what the client expects to accomplish on the site, and who it wants to attract, providing the necessary content becomes clearer.
Most clients unfamiliar with building a website often seek to compartmentalize their sites to reflect the structure of their business. This leads to navigation that corresponds to departments: marketing, sales, accounting, contact, services, etc. That’s how their business runs, and they think that is the best way to represent it online. But it’s not how users want to interact with them. When this occurs, your role as a designer should include guiding your clients toward a more user-first mindset to help them achieve their ultimate goals.
This is why I start working through the UX experience with clients before designing anything. I want them to understand who it is that needs their content, what problems lead prospects to the site, and what visitors hope to accomplish once they reach each page. Typically, this translates into the following categorization of visitors: potential clients, existing clients, job applicants, vendors, and if the client is an industry leader, peers and competitors. I find this accounts for about 90 percent of a website’s traffic.
With the user profiles identified, the next step involves aligning the needs of each to the content they seek. For example, to attract new talent, clients are likely to ask you to create a job posting page. But I explain that the experience can be more enriching if the content that showcases the company’s culture is included. Similarly, if the client’s current team is very talented and an opportunity to work with these individuals would attract more desirable applicants, I’ll suggest they create a team page. That way they can also highlight well-respected individuals and let these potential peers explain why they chose to join this company over competitors. By improving the experience of visiting the site beyond the open positions page, they are more likely to achieve their hiring goals.
Below are examples of the work that went into making this a success.