Mirror, mirror on the wall, who has the fairest web design of them all?
The previous episode of this series, number 2, was about WordPress themes. I explained that a theme is a template on which you base the design of the website. It’s the basis and that’s why you need to give the purpose of your website some thought before choosing the theme you want to use.
Once you’ve chosen a theme, you’re ready for the next step in creating your own WordPress website. This is where you further develop the website based on the theme, or in other words: the web design. In this episode, I will explain how you go about this by answering these questions:
- What kind of atmosphere do you want to create on the website?
- How do you go about designing the website?
- Why shouldn’t you use stock photos?
- What kind of photos should you use instead?
The website reflects your organization
Let me begin by asking a question. What exactly does design mean? In the world of web design, design has two meanings. Its first meaning is the technical design or development of the website, such as the navigation, responsiveness and interaction. Secondly, design is also the visual or graphic design, and this is what I’m going to talk about now. What I feel is very important and what I really like about designing a website, is that it’s part of branding. Branding is the communication of a brand, and a brand is simply the identity of a business or organization. It can also refer to the identity of a sole proprietor, hence the term ‘personal branding’. And because design refers to the visual design, websites provide a perfect way of expressing a brand.
This brings me to my first question. What kind of atmosphere do you want to create on the website? In other words: How are you going to express the brand? You can compare a website to a virtual company building on the Internet. Visitors expect the virtual building to have the same atmosphere as the physical building. So, make sure the website reflects who you are and what you represent. In this way, visitors are more likely to stay on the website to learn more about what you have to offer and to make contact. If the atmosphere isn’t right, visitors will soon leave and look for another company that can help them. This can happen if you present yourself as a company with staff when, in fact, you are a sole proprietor.
Apply your brand’s graphic design to the web design
If you know what kind of atmosphere you want on the website, you can start designing. How do you do this? Start by applying the various elements of your brand’s graphic design to the web design. I’m talking about the colours, fonts, logo and other visual design elements. By displaying these elements in the design, the website will become one with the rest of your branding and will be associated with your business. People will visit your website and immediately recognize your business and what it has to offer. It’s essential that you do this, because at the end of the day, you want to improve your online visibility, don’t you?
After you’ve applied the graphic design, you get started on arranging the web pages. It’s important that the website reflects the brand here too. That means showing who you are, what your vision and mission statement are and what exactly it is that you do. Here’s an example: create an open and well-arranged layout if you want visitors to experience how approachable the organization is. You can achieve this by creating lots of space between the various page elements and by dividing text into several blocks, each with their own catchy header.
Don’t use stock photos
Another thing that’s important for the page layout and the atmosphere on the website is the media you use. Give this a lot of attention and make sure there are also photos of the people behind the website. After all, they are the personification of the company and show literally who the company is. These photos also create the feeling that the company welcomes people to make contact. And if there’s one thing you want to achieve with the website, it’s making contact with clients and other business contacts.
The other photos also need a personal touch and should express the company’s identity. They answer questions like: What does the rest of the company look like? What does the company associate itself with? How does it make people feel? This brings me to an important bit of advice: don’t use stock photos. Why? The answer is simple. Because most stock photos look like stock photos and therefore don’t express the brand and show what the company is about. Visitors can spot from a mile off that the photos weren’t specially made for your company’s website. The photos look unnatural, emotionless and impersonal, and don’t fit in with the rest of the website.
Your own photos show who you are
So, use your own photos that have been taken specially for your company, and preferably photos taken by a professional photographer. Especially, if they’re company photos and photos of staff members. Your own photos show who you are and give more information on your business. That’s because the photos fit in with the other design elements and exude the same atmosphere, which eventually, makes visitors recognize you.
By the way, this is not only the case with small organizations. Large organizations can also benefit from being receptive and presenting themselves as they really are, instead of distancing themselves from their website visitors. If you do decide to use stock photos, for instance of something you can’t possibly photograph yourself, make sure that the photos really suit you and express your identity as much as possible. You can also decide to use stock photos first and replace these with your own photos later on.
Design your website in 4 steps
Well, this is how you further design the website from the theme. Do you want me to summarize this for you? Sure, I’d love to. Read the list below and design your website in 4 steps:
- Decide what kind of atmosphere you want on the website
- Apply your graphic design to the web design
- Create the page layout
- Collect appropriate media