10 Things I’ve Learned

10 things I’ve learned whilst working next to a web developer for a month

With the arrival of in-house web development here at Fogg, us designers have had to keep up to speed with how to design effectively for web to adapt to our clients’ digital needs. Here’s just a few of the things I’ve learned whilst working next to our new Digital Lead, Toby Bradshaw for just over a month.

1. Keep it clean

Form follows function. Keeping your site stripped back will ensure the user can get the information they need as quickly as possible. Animations and overly-decorated sites can be fun and eye-catching, but they can also be very distracting.

2. Having a solid site map before designing anything is key

Navigation is the most important thing you will consider when designing for web. The way that the user navigates around your online offer directly affects how they will interact with it. If there’s something you think the viewer needs to see (like contact details, a special offer etc.), make sure they can find it straight away. Also, if the site is content heavy, try and keep the number of pages down to a minimum and leave a ‘breadcrumb trail’ (an option to backtrack through previous pages visited) so that the user doesn’t get lost.

3. Content is king

In January 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay titled “Content is King”, which was published on the Microsoft website. In this essay, he wrote; “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.” And of course, his prediction was correct. No matter how beautiful your site is, if the content isn’t relevant, engaging, informative and clear there is no way your target audience is going to engage with your offer. We can help you with writing and refining content for your site, but a lot of the time the best words come from the real experts in the field – the client.

4. Don’t forget search engine optimisation (SEO)

Following on from the last point, your content should hit as many key words as possible so that your site is easy to find for search engines (and your end user). Even the images in your site should be named appropriately so that they can be picked up by images searches.

5. Coffee is essential

Cups of tea are just not strong enough for coders.

6. Always keep in mind how the design is going to work across mobile devices when designing

Before working alongside Toby, making a website responsive always came as an after-thought for me when designing. However with the popularity of mobile web devices such as smartphones and tablets soaring, and the majority of people now using the web on-the-go, it has become a paramount importance to design for mobile use. From the word go you have to keep in mind how the design will look in a 1 or 2 column grid so that it will fit on a smaller screen size.

7. Thinking of a name for a company or website is like playing roulette

Thinking of an original URL that hasn’t already been taken can be an arduous task these days, but when you get it (and get it right) you’ve struck gold!

8.  Be web-wise when it comes to choosing typefaces

When picking typefaces (or fonts) for the web, they must be usable on the web and you must have the correct licensing to use them. Also, when choosing a typeface to use for body text, it is usually best to go for a ‘more basic’ one such as Helvetica or Arial so that readability is optimised.

9. Work to your clients needs, how is the site going to be updated after it’s published?

In order to keep your viewers interested, your site must be kept up-to-date so that your business seems ‘alive’. There is nothing more disengaging than seeing a site that has laid dormant for half a year. So with this in mind, we can keep your site updated for you, or we can create your site in a content management system (or CMS) such as WordPress that allows you to update the content on your site easily yourself, whenever you like.

10. Camera, lights, action!

Finally, your website should allow the viewer to do something. This could be getting in touch, buying a product, or simply remembering your brand. There should always be a call to action that your viewers can engage with after they have navigated your offer.

By Jack Fairhurst