A business website should serve the users in the first place.No matter if this is a local café, a publishing house or a marketing agency, nowadays each of them is expected to have a business website. And it can’t be just any website – it has to be a good one. Most entrepreneurs believe that a good business website should serve mainly the company: they want it to be SEO-friendly, consistent with the brand’s communication strategy and eye-catching. The truth is, however, that a good business website should serve the users in the first place. If they find it useful, informative and functional, they will automatically be encouraged to use the services offered.
How a User-Friendly Business Website is Created
Before hiring a web company, it’s useful to have some basic knowledge about the process of creating a website. If you expect that a good business website can be made in a week, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Creating a truly user-friendly website is a long process and none of its key steps should be omitted.
Step 1 – UX Research
The first thing that needs to be done is making sure who the target users of your business website are. What are their needs? What do they expect? What type of language do they use? These kind of questions have to be asked before any other actions are taken. Answering them is the job of UX researcher, who using various methods such as surveys or interviews is responsible for gathering all the necessary data. Having done that, personas – detailed users’ profiles need to be created. These help to organise the information and make the distant concept of the target audience, appear like real human beings.
Step 2 – UX Design
The order and choice of users’ activities on the website has to be carefully thought out.Knowing who the users are and what they expect from your business website, it’s time for UX designer to step on stage. Working together with UX researcher and content writer, their task is to accommodate the content and information architecture of the site to the users’ needs. Having personas in mind, content writer has to prepare the text that is informative, easy to understand and interesting to the users. UX designer should accompany this process, making sure all the information are needed and nothing important is missing. Then, there’s time to decide what the page structure should look like to be intuitive, usable and functional for the users. On that stage, the order and choice of users’ activities on the website has to be carefully thought out in order to create user journey.
User journey makes creating the site structure much easier. Knowing where and in what order users will be looking for information, enables UX designer to make right decisions regarding the information architecture. The choice of the most suitable elements on the business website and the decision on their placement is later represented on wireframes – simplified graphic representations of the page skeleton. Wireframes aren’t precise in terms of visual aspects such as colour or font; they show only the size of chosen elements and their spatial relationship to one another. Wireframes enable to visualise the final design of the website and assess whether it’s user-friendly on an early stage.
Step 3 – Graphic Design
A graphic designer should be more than an artist.Finally, it’s time for a graphic designer to do their job. With wireframes, personas and advice from UX researcher on the users’ visual preferences, graphic designer is ready to design a user-friendly website – one that would not only look nice but also be accommodated to the users’ expectations. A good graphic designer is not only an artist with an eye to detail, they also need to know plenty of other stuff: what spaces between elements are optimal, which font suits the project best, how would particular elements behave in the case of responsive web design. The last aspect is particularly important nowadays since your business website will probably be viewed on mobile devices as often as on desktops. The final outcome of designer’s job is delivered in the form of graphic files. They should be accompanied by a detailed brief for web developer, describing the functionalities of all visual effects such as animations, sliders or images scaling.
Step 4 – Development
There’s only one step dividing us from a user-friendly business website: development. It’s web developer’s task to transform the visual design into operational site. SGML, Mark-up, jQuery, Angular.js, Git, Bootstrap – do you understand all of them? Neither do I. With constantly developing programming languages, coding a website is magic fully understandable only to those who practice it. Multiple and rapidly changing electronic devices as well as various browsers available make it even more challenging for developers to ensure that your business website is convenient to use by all visitors, regardless of how they browse the internet. Good news is that when this complex process of programming is finally finished, a new user-friendly website is ready to meet the public.
Step 5 – Testing (and Iterating)
Testing is a great opportunity to learn more about the users’ expectations.Though the last point may have seemed like the end, there’s one more thing that can’t be forgotten when a user-friendly business website is your aim – testing. Yes, I know that everything was researched thoroughly and done with attention to every detail, but some things simply can’t be predicted. If everything seems to work fine, Google Analytics will be enough to make sure that your business website reaches its target audience. With the data on how many, where from and for how long, the users visit the site, you’ll be able to sleep peacefully. If the website isn’t converting, however, Google Analytics won’t suffice to learn what went wrong. In that case, you may hire a professional who will do user testing to find the problem, but you can also take care of it yourself. With help of such tools as Peek or Hotjar, you can see what users think and how they interact with your site. That data will definitely help to spot the main issues. It doesn’t mean of course, that you should turn to it only in the case of problems. The use of such software gives a possibility to learn more about the users’ expectations and so make improvements that will leave your business website even more user-friendly.
Web Agencies, Small Companies or Freelancers
The process of creating a user-friendly website consist of a few steps but does it mean you have to hire a few companies to do that? Not necessarily. There are plenty of firms which offer to take care of the whole process and another bunch of those specialising only in some of the steps. Which option is better is difficult to say, both have their good and bad sides.
Choosing one company which does all is definitely the easiest option: you save time on researching the market and the communication between particular team members should go rather smoothly. On the other hand, big companies usually do multiple project at one time and it may be problematic for them to give your business website attention it requires. Especially, if it turns out that there actually is one UX designer responsible for all the projects or that a graphic designer is a web developer as well. So before the final decision, make sure the team will be fully engaged. It’s also a common practice for big web agencies to outsource some parts of the project to external companies. It may turn out that choosing one frim is only an illusion.
Companies focused on only one field, are usually more experienced and more engaged in their work.That’s why hiring UX design company, graphic designer and web developer separately is not such a bad idea. It may demand more time, but the effect can be equally satisfying (and probably cheaper). Companies which are focused on only one field, are usually more experienced and more engaged in their work. Since UX companies usually hire both designers and researchers, these two steps will be probably covered together. With a well prepared brief, a talented graphic designer will transform wireframes into visual files, which handed to developer will become your new business website. The possible risk is that ineffective communication between the people engaged may lead to problems. Good news is that UX designers, graphic designers and developers work with one another so often, that they usually have a trusted freelancer or team among each other which they can recommend. It may turn out that deciding to hire separately, you will actually find all you’re looking for at one time.
How to Find the Right Company / ies
Whatever option you opt for, the most important thing is to choose the right people. If you aim at user-friendly business website, user-centred approach is a term you should keep in mind. A company which works according to that approach, will usually be a good choice. Web agency, UX design studio, web development company, web design studio – these are only few of the terms you may want to type in Google. Unfortunately, there’s quite a confusion regarding these names. It may seem, for instance, that a web development company takes care only of the development phase but often they do design as well. Similarly, UX design studio would be expected to take care of UX research and UX design, however, it’s not a problem to find one which hires a graphic designer as well. It is crucial then to make sure what does a chosen company actually deliver and which steps of the website creation process it covers.
User-Friendly Website Means Business-Friendly Website
A business-friendly website has to be first and foremost a user-friendly one.Before I started working in the UX design industry, creating a good business website seemed quite easy. From the customer’s perspective, it was limited to hiring a company that makes websites, paying them, waiting a week and boom! – a brand new website is ready. Some company owners still see it that way. Viewing conversion as the business website’s main goal, they often don’t realize that in order to be converting the site has to fulfil first and foremost the users’ needs. A business-friendly website has to be first and foremost a user-friendly one.
Author: Anna Kulawik