Posted 15th October 2015 | By ExtraMile

Although I’m not a designer, there are a few things I have picked up while working alongside our studio team here at ExtraMile. I am therefore able to use what I have learnt, while still having my “laypersons” perspective to design, to clear up some myths about design...

1. The homepage is the most important page
While the homepage is, of course, very important if people click directly through to your website, in fact, particularly with the use of SEO, users often come to your site without even going through your homepage. For example they may search for one of your products and click on the link from the search engine straight through to your product page. The homepage should intend to get the user from A to B, where B is the actual content or product pages you want the user to engage with. Designers need to consider the company, and its clients, researching what they want from the website. This research should form the basis of the designs.

2. Design is about making a website look good
Design is about much more than this – there is limited use in having a beautiful design, if you can't easily navigate around the menu items to get to where you want to. Design is about solving problems and leading users to the important content. Of course, once the usability of the design is in place, a good design will impress users and encourage them to stay on the site, but it is important that the design does not distract from the purpose of the website. It was once said that "Good design, when it's done well, becomes invisible. It's only when it's done poorly that we notice it. Think of it like a room's air conditioning. We only notice it when it's too hot, too cold, making too much noise, or the unit is dripping on us. Yet, if the air conditioning is perfect, nobody say anything and we focus, instead, on the task at hand."

3. Design has to be original
There's a fine line for this one; no one wants a design to be exactly the same as someone else's, but likewise, if it's not broke, don't fix it. There's no point re-inventing the wheel for certain design elements, if the wheel is working well! It's also important to consider the design you are taking inspiration from - that the aims of both websites are similar. If you aim to sell products online, and you are taking inspiration from a site which aims to encourage users to sign up for a newsletter, their features may not be the most effective ones to use on your site.

4. Design happens first - then content
Take a minute to think about why you visit a website - is it to buy a product, to read a blog, or is it to look at the pretty colours on the site? Most users visit a website for the content. It's therefore very important to think about the content of the site from day one of the website process. This way you can ensure the designs compliment the content, making it easier for users to get to where you want them to be.

5. The more features on the design, the better it is
While, of course, it is good to take advantage of a number of features throughout your website, it's not essential to have all of these displayed on the homepage. If someone has just clicked on your site, it is unlikely the first thing they will be looking for is the location of your office - by moving your map to the "Contact us" page on your site, you still make the information accessible, without bombarding the user with too much information from the off. Similarly, showing the user all of the products you offer, without the products /services being divided into sections, can be very daunting, and so dividing them into more manageable chunks can (according to Hick's law) help the user to make a decision quicker.

So, there you have it - my top 5 design myths! It's important to maintain good communication with your web team throughout the process, as a lot of these elements will come naturally to them, but they will need your knowledge and expertise on the company to be able to ensure the website does exactly what you want it to do.

Written by Emma Bourne, Business Coordinator at ExtraMile Communications.

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A digital marketing agency with international capabilities