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Awesome web design! (Psst.. it's about efficacy, not art)

I've been subjected to many tender processes and pitches for web design projects over the past 15 years. Each one has its own unique questions to answer. The initial process of understanding what the problems are, the market, the product, and so on, is one of the truly fascinating stages of a project. Oddly, much of this deep thinking is freely given away as part of the pitch (and is often expected by the client). This is the commercial reality though so I won't start another whine about the value of my time and refusing free pitches - there are too many of those articles to choose from already. However, there is an element of this initial stage of a project that does bother me ...

In almost every case where a design has been requested as part of the pitch, the real purpose of initial design is lost because the context is wrong. The first stage designs should not be distracted by brand, colour, details of the interface, etc. They should be broad brush strokes, wireframes, concepts. Unfortunately, during a tender or bidding process, the designer is bidding for the work and is well aware that other proposals will include glossy designs. This leads all designers to produce glossy designs - pretty pictures of websites. Sure, there will be discussions on CTAs, flow, engaging the user, but the plain truth is that the client is very easily swayed by the "prettiest picture". So, everyone aims to produce the prettiest design, skipping several key stages of the design process, in a bid to win the hearts of the client. In return, as the emphasis is so firmly placed on the visual design, the client selects the most visually appealing design - based almost entirely on personal preference of course.

How do we break this cycle, enlighten the client and still compete? Well, we need to present the facts with confidence and conviction so the client is clear from the outset about what is important. Presented properly you may find your now enlightened client sees through the thin veil of "quick win" artwork, giving you a distinct advantage.  

The 7 key points on what makes a home page design work, each accompanied by a great example homepage, will help focus you on what's important and why. So, let's look at what makes a website homepage brilliant (also, check out how many are about visuals)

What Makes a Website Homepage Design work?

1) It states the obvious

It needs to state clearly and immediately:

  • Who the company or individual is
  • What the product or service is
  • What you can/should do on the website

Example: slack.com

2) Speak to the dog in the language of the dog

The homepage needs to focus, speaking to its target audience in their language. No corporate speak or waffle.

Example: www.ronseal.co.uk

3) It communicates a compelling value proposition.

When a visitor arrives on your homepage, it needs to draw them in so that they are sold before they even realise it. The homepage is the place to give your elevator pitch. Make the moment count; be persuasive, engaging and compelling.

Example: www.airbnb.co.uk

4) It's optimized for multiple devices.

Keep it simple. Don't add anything that isn't absolutely necessary. The best interface is no interface (thank you to Golden Krishna)

Example: www.aviationworldwidetraining.com

5) It includes calls-to-action (CTAs).

Don't be bashful. Tell your visitors what to do.

Example: www.spotify.com

6) It's always changing.

The best homepages change frequently in reaction to new data, changing trends and a changing world. Don't let the cobwebs grow on yours.

Example: www.netflix.com

7) It employs great overall design.

Ok, I never said that visuals aren't important. The best designs include eye-popping visuals as well as all the other important aspects.

Example: www.feedmusic.com

If you create a website where the homepage meets all the above criteria, feel free to share a link to your site!


If you need help with getting your marketing campaign together, Step3 Digital can help - we have experienced marketers, digital wizards, crazy creatives and straight talking (friendly) types that have helped many businesses achieve success. 

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