Say the word "design" to someone in the context of building their website, and they'll more than likely start talking about the way it looks: colors, maybe fonts, the style of the menu, or even content layout. It's a perfectly natural response, of course: we're all inclined to grab for the most obvious fruit, and in this case the look of a graphical user interface is hanging right there in front of them.
When I talk with our customers about design, I often find myself steering the conversation around to something else: experience. On the one hand, it's a broader category than visual perception. Strictly put, experience is a combination of sensory input and what we ourselves bring to the interpretation of it. On the other hand, you don't usually smell, taste, or feel a website, and hearing is reserved for the visually impaired, or for rude sites that autoplay videos.
So, with respect to websites, what is experience, if not just visual? Turns out that other element, our personal interpretation, is a pretty big one. Everyone has the potential to experience something different when they use a website. Different opinions, different associations, even different social and economic backgrounds all feed into how the end user engages with website in front of them.
How do we design for that, then? If everyone brings a different appetite to the table, how do you serve something everyone will like? It comes back to understanding the end user. When we start designing a website, we ask:
- Who needs your site? In other words, who are we targeting? What's their background and demographic?
- What does your target audience want? Are they looking for basic information, in-depth knowledge, a way to contact or find you?
- How does your target audience think? Do they have identifiable preferences or tastes? What do they already know?
And that's just for starters. By assessing the target audience first, we ensure that everything we create aligns with your desired site visitor. In this way, we can maximize the potential for a positive site experience for everyone who visits.
If you want to know more about what goes into your site design, feel free to give us a shout. We'd love to talk with you about ways in which we can extend your reach and make the most of your marketing efforts.