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Your Website Redesign Begins with Research

Looking at other industry sites will give you a more vast selection of tone, style and design.

When designing or redesigning a website, it might seem overwhelming or difficult to articulate the details of how you would like your site to look. So, how do you describe the appearance of something that doesn’t exist? The easiest way to do this is through research and communication. Finding bits and pieces of elements that you like or dislike and providing your designer with this information is the first step to getting the look and functionality that you want in your website. Once you communicate these findings, your designer will assess all of your input and will produce a unique design to fit your company’s needs.

So, where should you begin?

1. Review your competitors’ sites.
Do you see something that gives other companies in your industry a competitive advantage or edge over your company? Do you like the way the information is presented on any of these sites? Is this done through the use of good photography, colors, fonts, or, all of the above? Or, do you hate everything about a particular site? Understanding your dislikes can be just as important as understanding your likes. Is the site difficult to navigate? Is there too much information on a page? Or, is the site perfect and you would really like to figure out a way to surpass the demonstration of quality with the innovativeness of your own website?

2. Review sites outside of your industry.
Even though the subject matter might not particularly apply to your business, you still might be able to find elements of other industry sites that you like. Whether it is color, functionality, navigation, etc., sometimes it’s hard to describe exactly what you want by limiting your research to the sites only in your specific industry. Looking at other industry sites will give you a more vast selection of tone, style and design. With a larger number of sites to choose from, you can pick out the particulars of each design. For example, “I like the exact shade of blue on this site,” or, “I like how this navigation is structured,” or “I like the layout of this site.”

3. Review sites on other devices.
One very important thing to remember while conducting your website reviews is to look at the sites on a tablet and/or mobile device. Multi-device compatibility is a crucial aspect of your design that is required by today’s web standards. Consider appearance, navigation, usability and functionality on these other devices, just as you would on a desktop or laptop computer.

4. Explore possibilities for long-term goals.
While doing your research, document any ideas that you might come up with for future phases of the project. Perhaps you would like to add forms and/or videos to the site in the future. Or, maybe eventually you will be adding new sections, or a large number of additional pages to the site.  Explore all of the possibilities, even if some of them seem far-fetched.  It’s good to know this information ahead of time so the site structure can be built accordingly. Take these ideas to your web developer and get some professional advice on the possibilities that you are considering. Even if some of the ideas are not practical now, it’s good to know your thoughts for upcoming phases of development so a plan can be made for future implementation.

5. Communicate your findings to your website design company.
Take notes as you are conducting your reviews. Document the sites you have visited and write down any questions or concerns that you might have regarding any of the sites. Have a detailed conversation with your web developer about all of your findings so the most practical solutions for your company can be applied to your website design.

The purpose of researching websites and sharing your findings with your developer is to help you express exactly how you would like your website to look and function. The process could also stimulate new ideas and to help you discover possibilities that you didn’t think of previously. The intent is not to copy another site, but to get ideas from several sources in order to bring together your thoughts and concepts and incorporate them into your own unique, custom design.