It’s important to recognize what your business’s competitive advantage is, and unless you want to build a business that depends upon what’s special about YOU as an individual you have to draw out and nurture the special things about your process. To focus on your own unique specialties alone builds a prison fortress around you, and if you ever want to hire or contract out parts of the business you’re stuck with a business that only works with you sweating away at the center of it; the wizard behind the curtain, slowly getting too tired to perform at the same level.
So for me the key pieces of my web design process as I am learning to define them are:
1. Responsiveness to changes that clients need.
– Example: Client asks for a lighter color scheme in development, instead of fretting we work hard to satisfy the request and push back when appropriate to keep within a reasonable budget.
Key to fulfilling: Web design services should not be dirt cheap, and if they are they aren’t taking into consideration the time it takes to build something fully customized for the businesses needs. Templated solutions get generic unfulfilling results. (However I still feel that for some customers templated solutions such as Squarespace.com and WordPress Themes from Themeforest without custom code can occasionally fulfill their needs and suggest that they try those routes if their budget doesn’t allow to really hire someone to do it right.)
2. Examining the overall market for the client and tailoring the content on the site to the scenarios that could be useful to their favorite kinds of clients.
– Example: Your site is serving people who just suffered hail damage to their home, we assess that a key to surprising and delighting these types of customers is serving up content that is about how to buff out hail damage on their car.
Key to fulfilling: It’s crucial we think about the psychology of the people coming into the site. This is the number one question we ask when making a website: “how can we serve your ideal customer with this content, this imagery, the messages we’re sharing and the story we’re telling.”
3. Building out the main service pages of the website in the hope that the content will attract new customers, making key items like ‘contact us’ and ‘buy now’ super easy to access on the main promos, sidebars, and at the end of content.
– Example: Adding bigger content pieces after key visual blocks on service pages so that the service page is indexable by Google and people who want to really dig into what your about have that option. Big old juicy buttons that say “Contact us now” or “Request a quote” are super obvious and surrounded by trust factors such as positive testimonials, industry badges, a phone number, or 3 key differentiating features in bullet points.
Keys to fulfilling: It’s important not only to think about how people are going to perceive this site when they get there, but how they are going to get there in the first place. By thinking about big content pieces that could provide big value for the client during the design process, the website can be built in a way that emphasizes and makes those big content pieces that are serving a real need available and to the forefront of the site with menu structure, and other pieces of navigation and structure.
4. Imagery is outside the box, and elicits a positive emotional response from key individuals your business is targeting.
– Example: A Death to Stock Photo image that feels less stock photo-esque and more candid than most stock photos.
Even better, you and your storefront, your set of tools. An ACTUAL satisfied client, smiling and holding your product or enjoying your work.
Keys to fulfilling: Often this involves imagining what a positive interaction between your business and your client will look like. Is it you sitting with them, them smiling, and a chart of upward momentum on the computer screen in front of you? Is it freshly cut grass without them lifting a finger, so they get to smile and sip fresh lemonade on their porch? This is the story we want to display. We want the imagery to feel candid, real and maybe even a bit unusual. But a visitor should be able to see it and think to themselves, I want to be there. They should be able to imagine themselves in the place of the person pictured on the site.
5. The copy is written in a way that quickly explains the core benefit/value from your product or service, invites the visitor to participate, and explains why it will be awesome for them.
– Example: A moving company could say “Your back will thank you, call us for a custom quote today.” A remodeling company could say, “You’ll feel as good as your home will look.” with a call to action button that says, “Get a quote for a fresh look.”
Keys to fulfilling: Never be generic! Shake out the cobwebs in your marketing brain right now. Seriously, every single product or service has a unique and special story behind it, and the customers you serve need to know why anyone would choose you. Why have they in the past? I speak to the business owners and people representing businesses in their marketing teams, and I ask: “Tell me the story of a positive customer experience, that you’re aware of.” What does that look like. Tell that story on the site. The more you get curious about these stories and the core benefit a product or service is providing, very few things are truly boring. The more you get interested in the story of the product or service, and tell that positive experience story the more you’ll see that almost anything can be interesting.
And the moral of the story is:
As you can see, the key differentiating features of this design process is personal connection, customizing the solution to the industry and that specific businesses prime differentiating features, and enthusiasm. That enthusiasm through every piece of the puzzle is crucial. It’s important to note at every step of the process that this is for a business composed of REAL PEOPLE, whose food and shelter depends on telling the story to the world, and REAL PEOPLE who benefit from the product or service being served. This is the real end value. So anyone I work with, or for feels that: the enthusiasm and the genuine intent to provide value. This is key to this design process.