Making a new website

When, like me, you’re not a web or a graphic artist, and you redesign your website with higher standards, you always learn a lot and find that things are more complex that they seem.
You don’t redesign you site from scratch every day. I did it last week. It was long overdue, and the two years-old site design it replaces was not difficult to improve upon.
So let me explain you the process I’ve followed:
— Disclaimer: I’m not a professional, I’ve just tried to get as good a website a non-professional, self-taught, can —
When I started redesign, I had already for a few months taken bits of notes from pages, sites, or ideas collected during casual browsing. I also did some benchmarking by visiting and analyzing the design of half a dozen of sites related to my business.
You end up with a long list of items that you like and may want to copy. A short extract of mine:

Illustration webdesign

You’ll have to filter the list and retain maybe 1 out of 5 items because you cannot implement everything you like in just one design. That’s when you need to figure out the style, layout, structure and technologies.

Let’s go one by one:

Technologies were in my case a constraint. Remember that I’m not a web professional. I opted for the simplest possible: Static pages served by Apache server. No Flash, ActiveX or Javascript involved. Just plain HTML with CSS style sheets.

What I call the structure is a hand-drawn sketch where a put a box for every page and I draw lines to represent navigation between pages. I tried to keep the number of pages low while using one page per topic. What shall be avoided is a page that contains ten different topics, or a topic scattered in ten different pages. You want to make it readable and clear to the visitor, but also indexable by search-engines.

For layout, I picked a template from a web designer, many very good templates are available for free on the Internet. I wanted something simple and elegant, with several possible layouts (2 or 3 columns, feature box, …) to have some variety between pages.

Finally, style is the most difficult aspect. It’s a bit how your website smells and has to reflect the relationship you try to establish with your reader. If it’s plain, descriptive style, no emotion is transmitted, we are in pure technical communication. If you want to feel “cool”, you’ll probably get the opposite effect. I’ve tried to be personal and honest. I think it corresponds to the way I’m running the business and behaving with my customers.

So the result is certainly not perfect, but way better than before.

1 Comment

almenOnApril 27th, 2007 at 10:32 am