When it comes to website types, you might think informational website is the most easier to built. You could take up a wordpress vanilla installation, spin up a droplet and get yourself a website within in 2 days, but would that really serve your purpose ? What I mean to say is that design is never the purpose of the website, it is always a means to achieve another end and that end is conversion or sales or more business.
The hardest part of informational website designing is to present meaningful information in a concise way which is not confusing to the end user. The design, the layout, the spacing every aspect has a part to play as to how the website is going to be perceived by the user.
Here are some tips to keep in mind with informational website designing
Don’t jump the gun, think for a second as to what is the purpose of the website, is the website serving a purpose, what is the end goal, who will be the end user of the website. Is it a business to business website or business to consumer. Here are some simple steps to follow :
Determine the purpose of the website.
If you don’t understand the content of the website, how can you structure it, let alone design the entire flow of the website. As a web designer, it is not only our job to create beautiful layouts but also meaningful layouts. I know that you understand HTML CSS well and nothing about the subject matter of the website, but you can always research and have a birds eye view of the content. It is so important that people have started to prefer website designing companies that have already worked on a similar forte before. So here is some information that you should assimilate before starting a website design project
- Skim through the content of the website, see its processes and goals. Take a brief from the client. Its important, it will help you in actual design later on.
- Determine the end goal of the website, is it lead generation, information, whatever that may be
- See the workflows, know the process through which a customer is going to interact on the website. For example on an ecommerce website, a user’s journey begins with search. It will be great if the first thing he sees on the website is a big search box with suggestions.
Make a flowchart of user experience
Make a flowchart of how the users are going to navigate on the site, what do they go through before actually completing the action that you desire. Know what is important for the user. Know which pages will be frequently visited, how to organize the supporting pages for example track your order, terms and conditions etc.
After you have gleaned all the information, its time for you to write it down in a constructive manner. You can create a basic excel sheets or you can directly start building a wireframe of the entire content. Develop a sitemap, breakdown big sections into simpler sections with a read on button. This also might be a good time to think about your navigational structure. A wireframe could look like this
Think of something new
See where the herd is going, but chart out your own path. I cannot sufficiently stress upon the value of clear cut structure for SEO purposes. Think everything from the user’s perspective. What is his armour of information, does he know the subject you are taking about, if not, show him links to the subject. For example, when people land on our website, they usually have heard the terms php website development, react js website designing and they want to know about it more before engaging us. So we have placed links on our website, which elaborate on the topic, yet the call to actions are prevalent everywhere. Try to simplify things. Every ecommerce website has categories on top and terms and conditions in the footer and some other information about the company in footer. Why do you think that is. Its because product categories and product information is more important to the user. Ofcourse they might want to know more about the company, but their priority should be your priority as well.
You might also want to structure you navigation differently than the others. For example in a recent website, we structured the entire content by brand terms because that’s what the user is familiar with. Our initial tests verified our approach, a general user could immediately reach out to the information he wants to.
Think of items that others might have missed, for example, many informational websites such as corporate websites ignore case studies. Case studies depict how your organization helped another in a particular situation. A user might be in that same situation that might need your help.
Don’t make a complicated website structure
Deep nested information is not only hard to reach but its very bad for SEO. Google dissuades you from doing it. If the important information is buried deep inside your website, your website might loose its ranking. It can also frustrate your end user. Don’t test their patience, keep it simple. Don’t keep too many categories and subcategories. If at all you need to nest information keep it structured and balanced, make it as easy as possible include fixed search widgets, tags from where user can reach the desired information. If you have multiple sections on one page, you can also have a fixed table of content.
Take a look at this , you will know what I mean fixed table of contents.
One good strategy is to have a clear structured deep nested structure but provide hot links to most important information. Even google favors that. A good rule of thumb is a user should be able to navigate to any content within 3 clicks.
Design for real world usage
Simulate the user experience beforehand. Design a website for people who don’t want to spend time, keep the headings bold, wrap text within in read more buttons, cater to a wider audience. Make it easy for people to find important chunks of text. Use screen real estate to decide what’s important, if you really want to stress on a particular benefit of a product you are launching, increase the font size, make it interactive, make people notice it. If you are designing an informational website about your products and you know that your industry is such that your target audience is going to download a catalog first before anything else. Place a link of your catalog in the menu.
As a rule of thumb if an image can describe something easily, prefer that over text, no one likes to read that much, use videos, diagrams, numbered lists. Make sure that you grab their attention span as much as possible.
Beware of Content Duplicacy
Don’t duplicate content across your website. Having separate pages for contact us is totally unwarranted for unless your business needs it. For example, you might have different contact pages for different locations of your business. The idea is to prevent confusion in the minds of your audience. A lot of people bookmark you and come back, people tend to remember links and structure on your website Two separate pages for the same content is going to prevent that.
Call a spade a spade
If you think every user that comes to your website is tech savvy and knows the intent behind your words, you are terribly misinformed. I remember running a digital marketing campaign for an ecommerce client. The client had insisted on renaming “add to cart” button to “add to my bag” and guess what happened, we saw huge increase in conversions, people were not able to find add to cart, most of them thought the product is out of stock. Naming your hot links and navigation items is of utmost importance.