We sometimes think that if we have a website, we have a digital presence. But the overall goal of delivering results through digital website design takes advantage of opportunities to engage personally with users. This means a site should not only be optimized but functional and interactive. If we take a look around at some websites we use regularly, we realize there are many that are not only poorly designed but also lack content. This is a combination of continual design flaws while not considering users in the mix.
Creating a structured plan for what a website will deliver ensures we’re considering not just how appealing the interface is, but also how well it engages users. Assuming that great graphics and pictures are enough really misses the mark. It’s critical to provide a user interface that engages personally, which results in promoting your brand.
Budget is always an important consideration. Costs are important, but the reality is that if you choose a low-cost option, you often get what you pay for. This usually results in needing to have the site redesigned while users get frustrated with their experience.
Here are requirements that are important in the design process:
Adaptive and mobile friendly – Users expect to be able to access a website on any device. Providing a consistent experience allows users to access whatever they want when they want.
Include SEO – Optimize your site for users and provide content that is compelling. Applying search engine optimization enables users to get to the appropriate pages and information quickly.
Measurability – Utilize an analytics tool to check metrics and understand if users are actually engaging appropriately. These tools help gauge conversions, traffic and functional use. Also, by using the metrics generated with an analytics product, you can adapt the site based on what you learn.
Performance matters – Utilize a product or tool that gauges how well the site is performing (on all devices). This includes areas that might be bottlenecks at peak times.
Include a solid Content Management System – Including a CMS allows developers to consistently provide relevant content. This product should allow the ability to modify and create content as requirements change.
Include email marketing – Using targeted marketing ensures that users receive relevant emails rather than an identical communication that is sent to everyone. By targeting your audience, users feel valued, which again helps build your brand.
Require a secure solution – Security and privacy are two of the most important elements. Protecting users and data with privacy protocols is essential.
Take advantage of machine learning and artificial intelligence – Using a web development tool that includes AI means developers can eliminate redundancy and enable a website that is accessible.
Whether you are creating the website with your own staff or using an outside firm to do the work, they should be using best-of-breed tools and techniques that are not only intuitive but also allow changes as technology and users dictate.
Jennifer McNeill is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.