How to Build a Website Even your Nan Would Understand
Just the other day, my not-so-tech-savvy Granny was going through a new website that is supposed to make the payment procedure of the utility bills easier compared to the manual alternative. However, instead of breezing through the process, she was perplexed while interacting with the portal’s interface! It was comparatively easier for her to interact with payzone.co.uk that my roommates and I often use in order to pay our bills. Needless to say, Payzone have a more intuitive website than the one my Nan attempted to use.
This incident popped a question in my head – “What are the quintessential features of an ideal website?” The answer that reciprocated had no similarities with the website that my Nan tried to decipher.
As rightfully portrayed by Paul Cookson- “Great web design without functionality is like a sports car with no engine.” A website plays an impeccable role for any businesses and is righteously named as the viceroy in the realm of online marketing and presence. However, a well-designed website with minimum functionality and usability fails to do justice to its intent.
Today, a website is more than just an online address! The core objective of an ideal website is to facilitate informative interaction in a simple and clutter-free yet visually captivating manner that helps in instilling its purpose in the viewer’s mind. Does it sound complicated? Well, it’s not!
In my opinion, a website needs to be elementary yet intuitive that anyone’s Nan or even mine will go ostentatiously awestruck over it! And for the developers and designers who are trying to create easy-to-use portals that anyone can comprehend, it is a commendable achievement nevertheless! As a designer myself, I feel that it is my duty to share my perspective and knowledge regarding how to build a website. So, I proudly present to you a humble effort of mine that will help you to understand the rudimentary approach to build an ideal website.
The Need for Transition
Though incepted back in the 80s, it was during the late 90s and early 2000s that our world witnessed a gargantuan explosion of connectivity with the rapid advent of a man-made wonder called the Internet! Due to its further advances, the connectivity outreached the Sapiens albeit of varied geographical locations. However, as the Internet was still in its adolescence in that period, the websites of the yesteryears were nothing like the ones that you get to see today.
Back then, websites were trifling and static entities that used to display information on screen with the input of a related link. Though the internet has been with us for the last 3 decades, we didn’t have Youtube before 2005 and Google was barely used before 2000. Do you remember visiting Ebay before 1997, Myspace or Yahoo during the early 2000s? All this sites were groundbreaking in their respective genres but their interface was what we call today as “outdated”. The sites were full of clutter and unused spaces with no real interactive interface in place. Yahoo used to be a simple web directory back in 2003 while little could be done on its UI or User Interface.
Most of the companies that were internet sensations back in the 90s and early 2000s have adopted a much better approach to design and representation and their current online avatars are nothing like their decade-old predecessors. Nevertheless, that’s a story for another day! Let us get back to our “how to build a website” guide without further delay.
Currently, with the advent of technologies and innovations like touch screens and swiping navigation, businesses are promptly incorporating the same in their websites. The growth in the usage of internet via mobile devices complements this scenario. Numerous websites have attained enhanced navigational attributes and access by being mobile-friendly!
It is of utmost essentiality that the website designers and developers focus more on creating quality and functional web products instead of making something that’s beyond someone’s comprehension. As the famous saying goes “The devil is in the details.” instead of wondering about how to build a website, they need to focus on the individual elements of each page perfecting them in the process.
The Elementary Guide to Website Building
The internet is visited by disparate audiences with varied levels of knowledge and awareness and not all are tech-savvy. This poses a threat to businesses that make websites with a lot of information, clutter and innumerable visual elements making it unfathomable for the audience visiting, especially people like my Nan!
Simply put, a website needs to be beautiful or at least visually pleasing with an easy user interface. One should focus on a few fundamental aspects in order to build a good website.
I call it my guide to “how to build a website” and I hope that you benefit something about websites from it!
- Domain Name & Site Address: Your website’s domain name has to be a replica of your business entity. It should make clear to the visitors about what they are going to encounter once they visit your site. Try to go for something catchy and short that’s easy to memorise as well as to type. Your domain name should somehow relate to the value or service that you are trying to impart regardless of the terminology.
- Navigation: Focus on proper navigation of the website. It should be consistent throughout the website where the buttons and bars need to be easily understood and used. Any frame, if used, should not be obtrusive and the buttons as well as the bars should give a clear indication of the current site page location to the user. You should incorporate relevant tools in your site in order to make the navigation smooth and free of glitches. For example, plug-ins like Touchy that helps the site to become mobile-friendly, Live Chat for easy clarification of queries and Product filter that makes finding relevant products in an e-commerce site easier, enhances the user’s interaction with a site. Remember, the easier it is for the users to navigate through your site, the longer their eyes tend to stay glued to your site.
- Appearance and Overall Design: The mien of a website is directly proportional to the idea that it wants to replicate or the agenda that it wants to propagate. A photography website displaying a portfolio of pictures will have ample differences with a corporate site representing a software product. However, despite the purpose, all websites need to be appealing, polished and professional in nature. For example, mozblog.com, an online marketing related blog site, vogue.com, popular internet paparazzi and wonder-all.com, a designer site all has varied aesthetic and design elements but are similar in their functional and navigational aspect! Concentrate on the visual aspect of each individual element of your website. Your site’s pages should share information in such a way that the user feels a connection with your entity or offering. Keep it short and quirky yet to the point! Try to add an informative footer where you can include your social handles, contact information and other business essentials.
- Functionality: You should pivot your attention to making every component of your site work correctly and quickly. Across the spectrum of your website, everything should work effortlessly including site search, contact forms, hyperlinks, registration pages etc. A functional website ensures that the visitor has a hassle-free and engaging experience and thus, inculcating a goodwill and trust amongst the same. Focus on using clear and visually amplifying fonts that make your site’s information easy to read.
- Usability & User-friendliness: The primary focal point while considering the usability of a site should be it’s user interface. You should consider your site’s intent and target audience while designing the same. For example, the UI of a fashion-based website cannot be similar to a B2B website offering a service or product. Incorporate enough media like pictures and videos to supplement your content and break the monotony! This makes the site alluring as well as engrossing to the viewer. The interface of your website should be clear to decipher and easy to navigate through. Avoid adding attributes that decreases the site loading speed. A fast loading website garners viewer interest while the one that loads slowly witnesses the opposite. Try to maintain simplicity consistently throughout your site. You can go through Apple’s site for further reference.
- Content: Content is probably the most important part of your website. It includes the information that you want to display on your website along with all the graphical and other types of representations. It needs to be error-free just like your company’s promotional material and ensure the dispersal of credible information to your visitors. Content also determines your site’s relevancy with search engine queries and along with the engine’s algorithms, decides your level of visibility as well.
- Flexibility: Your website needs to be platform independent in order to facilitate access. It should load with equal enthusiasm in all platforms like mobile phones, tablets as well as screens. Amazon.com is a perfect example of an accessible and platform independent website. Even Google makes this a priority while short-listing relevant search results. Availability and accessibility helps a brand to establish credibility amongst its audience.
- Call-to-Action: An effective Call-to-Action button is an essential part of any website. It is a prompt for the user to take an action. Therefore, you need to make it simple and precise in order to prompt the user to click it! Try to solve the user’s queries with the Call-to-action button and scrutinise its purpose in order to bring the most relevancies while designing it. You can take inspirations from Evernote, DropBox or Netflix who have used easy to understand yet highly engaging call-to-action buttons that serve their purpose.
I hope that this informative piece on “how to build a website” helps you to build great websites that serves the true raison d’être of functionality and user-friendliness. Steven Paul from Amsterdam is a promising website developer with a commendable portfolio and tells us “A website needs to be as simple as it gets but should also adhere to all its functionalities in the maximum responsiveness possible.” Legitimately so, the problem faced by my Nan while trying to pay her utility bills made me realise the essentiality of a simple yet perspicacious website design. The market of websites is booming currently and without the presence of adequately skilled and qualified professionals, low-grade work will be inevitable.
Businesses falling for such mediocre products will miss less tech-savvy yet potential customers like my Nan and may falter under the competition gradually.
With the advent of the internet, the World Wide Web is being populated with new websites of business entities from all over the cosmos. In this period of sheer competition, a website needs to be and do more than displaying information. It needs to be functional, visually pleasing and should explain the most complex of information in the most non intimidating manner that even anyone’s Nan could understand. Only then, can the internet be truly phenomenal in nature!
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