Any design, especially Web Design, is a difficult field for amateurs. A lot of people’s first reaction to being handed a web design task is to create something which satisfies their own design tastes. As either a business owner or a designer, it’s important to remind yourself the point of it all.
Nobody should have a website for the sake of having a website. As a web designer, your primary goal should be creating something that will drive business for a client. As a client, your primary goal should be making sure the designer delivers on that principle. Going about doing this involves taking a step back from the project and asking yourself exactly what your goals are.
There are several questions I try to answer before even starting a project.
What content would interest a potential customer? Find out what your users are looking for and make it accessible. Content that is necessary to include doesn’t always need to be front and center in terms of positioning. For example, items such as large bodies of text and lengthy videos are typically not crowd-pleasers and may not belong on the home page or other key pages.
How conservative should I keep the design? A user’s taste in design can be affected by a variety of factors ranging from age to occupation. If I were designing a site for myself, it would most likely turn out much more modern than if I were designing a site for a more conservative user base. It’s up to the designer to determine who the target audience is and then make sure the website complies with that audience’s average tastes.
What should I be trying to convey about the company or organisation? Every organisation should have selling points, so it’s a great idea to make use of them on a website. Make sure to find out what marketing is already in place and build off of it. Consistency often trumps even what would be considered an improvement to a brand.
So, is website design Rocket Surgery or Brain Science?
It should come as no surprise that it’s a bit of both, but at the end of the day you have to make a decision: Are you trying to drive business or are you trying to create art? There’s nothing wrong with art. I consider a lot of my work art, but business comes first. It’s pointless to try and build something intended to please anyone besides your target audience. The trick is to stay as objective as possible because generating business is what matters.