Getting the basics right

Leon Calverley of Door 4 explains how to build a beautiful website.

Leon CalverleyWhen planning and designing a website, it is critical that we get the basics absolutely right, before moving onto advanced functionality, or extensive content.

That sounds obvious, but it comes as no surprise that a huge number of websites fail to deliver a quality user experience, or clear, meaningful content.

Instead, they sacrifice ‘quality’ for ‘quantity’. They disregard clarity and strong messages in favour of incomplete features and tools.

A website can contain many things - a product database, image galleries, social media tools, e-commerce features. These features can be seemingly ‘easy’ to bolt on, which can make them desirable.

We see many websites where features are included just because they can be. Marketing budgets are swallowed up to build empty blogs, e-commerce systems where a business has never fulfilled mail order, or image galleries where a company has never commissioned professional photographs.

Good planning for a ‘typical’ marketing website would suggest that we focus on key fundamentals:
  • photography, which communicates the relevant messages
  • professionally written content and propositions
  • clear navigation which simply makes sense

Incorporating e-commerce can seem like an obvious option... after all bolting a shopping cart on is easy, isn’t it? Well, the technology isn’t too difficult, but creating an offer that customers will buy into is never easy. Without experience in retail sales or technology, the chances of failure are overwhelming.

The desire to ‘build big’ should be questioned... instead, we should aim to ‘build beautiful.’ We need to consider the impact of quality content, and only chase volume when we know we have the structure right. Whilst it’s easy to add pages with the click of a button, it’s just as easy to lose a potential customer’s interest if the content is poor quality.

With our attention focused on getting the basics right first, we’re likely to deliver a return much faster. We can then learn as we go – and re-invest our earnings into those features once we know we can make them great!