1. What do your customers and site visitors know you for?
To some this may seem like an unlikely question to start with, but it really needs to be the basis of all choices with web design. Like a logo, letterhead, and all print media associated with a company, a site can be a major branding for the basis of client recognition. If the website design is one recognized by the readers, it may cause a negative response to make a massive change in the way it’s is read. Likewise, if the website is the weaker link of media associated with the company, it will need to be designed in a way to compliment the company and its preexisting media. While content will always reign supreme to the search engines, genuine viewership is still the ultimate goal of a website.
2. Is this a vanity website or one meant for inbound marketing?
Ok, we’ve talked about this before and heard negative response for the choice term “vanity site”, but it is what it is. It’s not a negative or positive statement about a website to call it a vanity site. If the only purpose of your website is to have one to be followed off of a business card, then you may not be concerned with how the site looks on a regular basis. The use of these sites, while decreasing, is still common enough to be asked when deciding web design criteria. It may not be in the interest of the site owner to have frequent and extensive web design if the website is only to be viewed by a select group of people. Often major web design updates are associated with a website that is trying to build and convert newer and inbound traffic instead of regulated and specific visitors.
3. Much like the last question, what is the site to do for you and your business?
It’s very difficult to design a website or revise one when there is no clear goal to be set. Some view web design in the same way they would view making a pamphlet or Power Point slide-show. Those who have experienced a bad design have found that web development and web design are key to converting visitors into regular viewers. If a site is meant to be informative in a serious manner, but looks like something of a comical nature, viewers will be confused.(one more reason to stop using Comic Sans) The website design must match the content for readers to truly appreciate it without confusion or blatant distaste. While there are still debates of how much psychological responses to a design can be felt, there is a consensus that they do impact readership. Bringing the design of your site in line with the theme of its content will ensure that readers are left with an accurate interpretation of the content meaning.
4. Code, Code, Code!!!!
If your website is still trudging away on legacy HTML with tables, it may be a good time to consider moving to a better framework. Table usage in websites was never meant to progress to the levels that it did. They were invented for simple actions, but after some time, were being manipulated to design all aspects of site layout. With the advent of CSS, these tables are no longer needed in such long and drawn out lines of code. Your website can move more efficiently, be designed in a better and cleaner way, and… Oh Yeah, the search engines will appreciate it.
5. HTML or PHP
It would also be good after asking the previous questions to determine if the HTML in your website should be replaced with PHP. Whether using a database driven CMS like Joomla, Xoops, Drupal and WordPress, or just wanting a basic PHP scipted website, you’ll be able to more easily updated for content. Regular updates can be helpful to sites that aim to offer newer information to viewers on a regular basis. It would be good to know before making any site changes to know how often content would need updated. Be aware that if you should choose to remain with older framework, even content updates will have their cost. If the page is to stay static, this shouldn’t be a problem and it may be a waste of funds to do a complete update of the code.