Are you a dancer? Can you ballroom? Cha Cha? Jive?
Me? I’m a bit clumsy when it comes to all that. In my head I think I’m Fred Astaire but everyone else looks at me like I’m having a fit!
Sometimes when you’re doing something you don’t normally do, you just need a little help to get in the swing of things.
Having developed a vast number of websites over the years, I’d say that we’re pretty good when it comes to the website tango, but I can understand why clients often find it a little bit awkward.
I think the biggest hurdle is actually understanding the steps.
Usually in a quote you’ll see the words “design + development”. This is written in this order for a reason because the design takes place before the development.
We do our best to ensure that we have an understanding for the finished product in the design phase before moving into developing it into a working, functioning website. We do this because it saves massive amounts of time.
So the first big tip is: Get the design right first.
Really examine the design and talk to the designer about what each aspect will do and how the site will work and flow. It’s one of the reasons we usually create multiple pages (especially for larger sites) so that you can get the feel for how the site will end up looking and feeling.
The next thing to realise is that moving something from ‘here’ to ‘there’ isn’t like moving an empty box from one side of the room to another. It’s usually more like moving a concrete block from one side of town to another! These changes are pretty simple in the design phase. The design is usually created in Photoshop so we have unlimited flexibility. Re-coding certain aspects is exceedingly more difficult, so make sure you make the changes at the beginning…not the day before your site goes live!
The third little step is to spend some time on your hierarchy. This is the key to navigating people to where you want to go. It’s not just about consolidating your information into sections, you need to understand that a hierarchy is a pathway to a final destination. It should lead people to where you want them to go. This sounds really obvious but you’d be surprised how many sites don’t build their hierarchy with this in mind.
My last tip for being a better online dancer, is understand your users. Everyone uses the internet differently. From different browsers to clicking in different ways, everyone is unique. Don’t assume that just because you do it one way, that everyone else does it the same way. We have just about seen every conceivable way that someone can use the web, so we have a clear picture of what it takes to navigate people to where you want them to go.
There’s more to a website than just the fancy mirror ball. Hopefully these steps will get you a gig on ‘Dancing with the Stars’. If not, at least you’ll end up with a site that’s ready to tango with your visitors!