Every good website design starts with a plan.  You need to know your audience, identify your goals and select a team to make it happen.  Before jumping right into homepage design, you might want to take a little extra time and put these 3 tools to work…

One – Prepare Your Content in Advance

Content is a tool?  Sure it is.  It’s what leads traffic to your page.  It’s what tells the reader what you want them to know, what you want them to do and where you want them to go.

Before you design, spend some time thinking about your content.  For example, your homepage… what do you want to say there?  What you say and how you say it will have a huge impact on the look and layout of the page.  You need to allow for appropriate space, decide what content is most important and what’s secondary, etc.

By developing your content (or at least a draft) before your design, you will avoid a lot of headaches down the road.  Writing your content as a preparatory exercise for design will get you thinking about how your content works with your website’s design to get results.

Benefits of Prepping Your Website Content in Advance:

  1. Helps solidify a theme and goal set
  2. Forces you to engage all stakeholders from the beginning when it is most important
  3. Gets you thinking about keywords and SEO and how to work them into your content

Two – Wire Frames

A wire frame is a gray scale layout of a website’s homepage, subpage or landing page.  It is a great first step when starting the layout process.  It helps you determine the ideal spatial arrangement of the information on your page before you even decide on color, imagery, textures, etc.

Here are a couple of wire frames we’ve produced recently:

Inslee Stationery Wire Frame

Inslee Stationery Wire Frame

FDBDO Wire Frame

FDBDO Wire Frame

As you can see, they are straightforward.  We use them to determine placement of things like logos, taglines, images, callouts, content areas, etc.

Benefits of Using Wire Frames in Web Design:

  1. Saves a lot of back and forth during the design process because the layout is predetermined
  2. Helps you to visualize the page and make a more informed decision regarding layout before you are too far into the design process
  3. Helps a team develop a cohesive approach by seeing what areas each stakeholder gets on a page.  It eliminates bad blood down the road, because the team can put its 2 cents in now before it’s too late

Three – Mood Boards

Now that you have written your content (at least, for the homepage) and developed your wire frame, here comes the fun part… the Mood Board.  It even sounds fun.

A mood board, also called a style guide, is a way to organize the creative concepts and ideas in one place for your team to review.  These can include elements we’ve discussed  like imagery, color schemes, textures, logos, fonts, etc.

Here are a couple of examples of mood boards for the wire frames we’ve already shown you:

Inslee Stationery Mood Board

Inslee Stationery Mood Board

FDBDO Mood Board

FDBDO Mood Board

Benefits of Using Mood Boards in Web Design:

  1. Before you spend too much time on designing with certain colors or textures, you can decide with your team if anything simply will not work
  2. It is a good visual checklist for your team to determine that all elements are there.  You might think you have everything and end up missing an important image or logo.
  3. It helps to streamline the design process by developing an early cohesion with all stakeholders regarding design themes and elements

With these tools, you will find that your next web design project goes much smoother and you achieve a better outcome.  While these tools do not guarantee your design will be award winning, they do put you on the right path toward an effective, good looking website.  If you have any questions about these tools and their associated processes, please contact us and let us know.

Jon-Mikel Bailey – Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.

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