or how I build websites.
Here are some thoughts about how I build websites. They are a collection of ideas and principles that I have been putting together for some time.
- I think websites should be simple, clean, fast, and purpose-built. The websites I build have one purpose — information delivery. I develop and design them to fulfil that goal. If you want fancy, you can find that everywhere and pay a price far higher than I charge for it. I don’t do that and those that hire me, hire me because I don’t do that.
- Before I even start to build a website for a client, I engage in a conversation around two simple questions: Who is visiting the site and what information do they need? I design the entire site around the answers to those two questions.
- Anyone coming to a business website is looking for information. With the answers to those two questions in mind, I build a site to deliver that information to those people with as few clicks as possible (preferably none).
- Every time you add a page, you add work for the visitor. One more barrier between them and what they want. One more thing they have to find. One more thing they have to click and another chance for them to leave. Therefore, make it as few pages as is possible and sensible.
- An example is restaurant websites. Almost every restaurant website could be two pages. Home page: Hours, location, a number to call for a reservation or further info. Page two: Menu (In HTML, not PDF, with prices!). That’s it. I can’t think of a single restaurant website that I’ve seen that needs to be more than that. Yet, almost every restaurant website I visit is more complicated than it needs to be.
- Currently, almost everyone that visits your website is using a mobile device. I build sites with that in mind (not only mobile friendly & responsive but especially the choice of font types and sizes). I test everything, every page & every link, on a smartphone and make it look good there.
- Most businesses should hire a copywriter and editor long before hiring a web designer/builder. Most should worry far less about the design of the website. People are coming for information, not how pretty it is. Focus on the words first.
- Many web designers like to use custom frameworks and page builders to make your site “pretty”; this has the side effect of making the back-end of your site confusing, and your ability to update and add content to the site yourself more difficult. I don’t do that. I’m not building a custom theme or messing around with some premium framework. If you are happy with how things work, you’ll only come back in those (rare) instances you need a major change or can’t intuitively figure something out yourself.
- To that end, I build using one of the WordPress default themes and making customised modifications to that using a child theme. The advantages are that the theme is always kept up to date and compatible with the latest versions of WordPress, and can be easily fixed if there’s an issue without making things worse. More importantly, it means it is easy for you, the customer, to keep up to date. That also makes it easy for any other web person you might hire after me, future-proof is a feature.
If you’d like to see websites that I have built that incorporate most (if not all) of these principles, check out the following pages: