Image by Bohman
I’ve been busy with a lot of stuff lately – good stuff, too. Since flickr has always been a blog-like thing for me, I thought I should do a small rundown on good work-like things that has happened to me lately.
Right now I study communication. In half a year I graduate from this, which nets me a masters degree in the subject. I already have a bachelors degree in swedish, so these two degrees should complement each other. I know the technicalities of the language as well as what one should say to make the right impression.
I really enjoy working in the field of communication. Essentially, I will become a master on social interaction. I understand, or have the knowledge to analyze (well, as far as it is possible) how to get a message across, why some forms of communication are better in certain situations, and so on. Fun stuff.
Lately people seem to appreciate me, my kind of thinking and what I contribute, so I’ve gotten a lot of extra work. Here are some fun stuff that I’ve gotten to do or are about to do:
1. Evaluated how well a military regiment had reached their audience on an open visitors day. Me and two others spoke to more than 900 people during the day and were able to draw a lot of good conclusions, which resulted in a 16-page report that has been well received. (Pictured above).
2. Analyze and give suggestions on a website for a Bag Pipe Band.
3. Taught students basic InDesign. Not that I’m a professional, but I know the basics in design and print and – of course – things to think about when wanting to convey a message.
4. Is about to do an official film for the university, to be shown on special events.
5. Photographed for a book that documents an industrial area in a town close by.
6. Do some thinking and sketching of some posters for the university.
In this and other work I’ve gotten a few connections at places I might consider working when I’m done. I think I’d like to become a copywriter on a marketing bureau. If the bureau is good, it should be a fun place to express ideas and evolve my language use.
All in all, it’s just fun to actually get out in the real world and see that the knowledge I’ve gathered during my five years of studies are actually useful.
When having a website built, it’s great to think of how you want your website to look…most designers will appreciate you having a “vision” for your site. However, do not let your vision overshadow your purpose for building the website. If you do, the site will could end up falling short of, not only your needs but also, your expectations. So, how do you avoid that pitfall? Well, in order to build a website that works—literally and figuratively—for you, the site must be functionally correct first and the visual elements used should work with the functionality.
It is critical to keep the purpose of the website you’re building at the forefront of your mind. That’s to say, what do you want site visitors to (be able to) do while visiting the website? Are you building a community site where you want people to interact? Maybe you’re looking to sell products. Or perhaps you’re a business owner or non-profit organizer and just need an online presence so people can learn more about what you do. They’re all valid reasons to have a website built but the functional requirements for each is different. The community site needs an element that will allow site visitors to communicate with each other but the product site needs a way to process transactions and the online presence site simply needs to be informative.
Seems simple enough, right? Well, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.
Many of today’s websites serve multiple purposes. Some large sites may even have different purposes for different sections or pages within the website. That may result in the overall site needing a variety of functional capabilities—search result generation, form submission, multimedia interfacing, e-commerce, or even customized databases. Therefore, asking yourself, “What do I want site visitors to do / to be able to do on my website?” may seem like an easy-to-answer question but it really is a question that anyone wanting a website designed should seriously consider before contacting a web designer.
Once you have clearly thought out the functionality requirements for your website, then you can turn your attention to how you want your website to look. Here’s a look at some things to keep in mind as you’re imagining how you would like your website to look:
• Use The 3-Click Rule Whenever Possible.
The 3-Click Rule is an unwritten rule that many professional designers adhere to when designing website. The rule states that it should not take a site visitor more than three clicks to get to a particular function. Translation: Make sure that the website’s navigational structure you decide on for your site is super simple. If it takes more than three clicks for a site visitor to get to a particular link or page, it isn’t likely the site visitor will get there. Instead, most will give up and move on to the next website in the search engine results.
Don’t Fight What The Consumer Has Been Conditioned To Do.
Web users are accustomed to going to certain links and locations to find certain information. For instance, most web surfers automatically look to the left or top of the screen for main site navigation options; site users have also become increasingly used to being able to click on a company logo to get back to the homepage. Don’t fight these web surfer design preferences…go with it! The exception: You can consider straying from these “norms” if you’re attempting to create a specific surfing experience for your site visitors.
Plan ToAdd Purposeful Content!
Don’t just put text on your website for the sake of “having something up there.” Site visitors will see right through fluff copy…especially if you attempt to fill the site with keywords to improve your search engine ranking without providing valuable content along with those keywords.
Also, think about how you speak to your site visitors. Your tone and writing style that you choose should fit the overall purpose of your site as well as the “vibe” you want site visitors to have when visiting the site. For example, if your website is going to be the equivalent of an online brochure, make sure that the design and text read as simply as a brochure would. If your site is geared towards children, use age-appropriate wording. Or, if your site is supposed to be a profit powerhouse, generating thousands of dollars each month from product sales, make sure that you have copy that sells on every page intended to sell site visitors on your product / service. FYI: Hiring a professional copywriter or working with a website design company that provides copywriting services can come in handy here!
Once you have determined the basic functionalities of the website you’d like developed as well as some of the aesthetics you’d prefer, the next step is to find a professional website designer to actually build the website for you. The best way to begin is to ask friends for a referral but do not stop there. Website designers have different capabilities and specialties. The referred website design company may or may not be the right provider for the job. So, the next step should be to find one or two other potential website designers. When selecting designers for your short list, keep the following in mind:
Have a budget range in mind for your website that’s appropriate for the functionalities your site requires. Let your budget determine the designers who you consider for the job. However, the designer who wins the project should be determined first by their ability to design the website as you envision and second by price.
Take note of the professionalism of the provider during phone conversations and / or email correspondence. It’s indicative of what the experience of working with them will be like.
Request to see work samples but do leave room for some speculation. Work samples, unless created specifically for you, are always the result of the provider’s client’s preferences and not solely the designer’s abilities. Designers can make suggestions to clients for how a website should look or operate but in the end, it’s what the client prefers that goes.
If you will be requiring more than just web design to make sure that you have an optimal website, consider finding a provider that offers value-added options. Some value-added services that design firms sometimes offer that simplify website operation or improve website effectiveness include website hosting, website maintenance, domain services, copywriting, and search engine optimization (SEM).
When you find the professional designer that you want to work with, explain what you have in mind for your website in detail, including your functional requirements. Then, be prepared to listen; a true professional designer will have additional questions to clarify your “vision” as well as insight about what else you may need in order to have the website look and operate the way you want it to.
The final tip for building a website that works: Be open-minded to all of the designer’s suggestions. You don’t have to go with all of the design firm’s recommendations but you should at least hear the designer out. Remember: You’re hiring a professional web design firm because of its expertise and creative abilities! Don’t cripple your designer by not allowing for at least some free flow of ideas. After all, the designer is the professional and there’s always more to beautifully designed and user-friendly websites than meets the eye!
Mauricio Navarro is President & CEO of Rationale Hosting. Rationale Hosting is a web hosting company delivering affordable web hosting solutions, domain name registration & FREE web hosting to consumers and business clients.
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