IT Websites are Mostly Garbage (Here’s How to Make Them Good)
Have you ever started brushing your teeth, only to realize that tube wasn’t toothpaste? Or have you ever pulled up to your driveway and not even remembered the drive home? Or something unfitting flashes across your mind, and you suddenly realize you’re the POTUS and you’ve tweeted it out to the entire American public?
We’ve all been there.
We spend much of our day on autopilot. We learn by observing patterns. Patterns help us expect certain things to happen. Our brains want to do the least amount of work possible, so they can reserve the hard work for more important things, like figuring out if you stopped at any red lights on your drive home.
This unfocused intuition is the basis for user experience and user interface, also known as U’s of X&I. This is what good website design considers. How does the user naturally experience the IT websites s/he visits, what design elements can we use to enhance the user experience and how can we deliver information in the most succinct and exciting way possible?
IT Websites Design Challenges
Are two-fold. One, people needed to find what they’re looking for. Quickly. Very quickly. Like one second quickly. Two, you need to keep attention by creating a different feel. Our fearless TRIdigital leader Gio Sanguily said of creating IT websites, “We try to leverage key differentiators. Because what you do can be copied by competitors. How you do it cannot. Through our creative sessions with clients, we come up with a theme to help tell their story, show how they’re different and why they’re important.”
Design Content, Not Just Images
In print, say a Stephen King book, we’re accustomed to reading every word, in order, for long periods of time. Online, it’s different. No one curls up by the fire, glass of wine in hand, engrossed in the lyrical wonders of your website. As great as the copy on your site is, no one gives a shit.
Someone looking for IT support wants to know 1) if you’re selling it and 2) under what circumstances. They are only looking for a solution to a problem. The faster they get to that conclusion, the better.
One method we use in our sites is limiting lines to a certain number of characters and limiting paragraphs to three to four lines whenever possible. Look at the effect this has on your tolerance to get through the material.
Instinctively, the block of content puts you to sleep. Why? Because this ain’t a Stephen King novel and there’s no fire.
Try it on your site. Break down your content into short paragraphs. Break paragraphs into sections. Put headers on each section that let the skimmer know what that bit is about. For instance, you could use “No Random Acts of Design” as a header when switching to a new section about showing intent behind everything you do.
No Random Acts of Design
To show the importance of UX and UI, and to hit home the point that nothing is random, at TRIdigital, we use a special mockup created by Art Manager Ricardo Albertorio, that takes our clients on a journey through their new, custom site.
They experience the site for the first time the same way their clients will experience the site the first time, by absorbing a feeling about the company through well-designed graphics and well-informed and well-placed copy.
Find Out What Makes You Different, and Tell That Story (But Tell It Quickly)
Coming out of a creative session with a client, the TRIdigital designers and copywriters start banging their heads together. How can we create a site that’ll pique user interest and deliver the right amount of information?
It starts with the mood board. Designer Dilya Revkat says the mood board is where she starts imagining the look and feel of the client’s site: “Tsveta, shrifty, znachki.” Indeed. Being a non-native English speaker works well for her because good website design caters to skimmers.
Efficiency in copy means getting to the point, using good SEO best practices and eliminating the unnecessary. From a design perspective, this means graphically representing key concepts, emphasizing important phrases and highlighting essential copy. Likewise, icons visually give a huge amount of info with very little real estate.
Animations not only help define your personality but can subtly point users to important places on your site. Take EaseTech, for example. This company loves a good cup of coffee. For EaseTech’s process page, we designed a coffee-making process animation. The animation itself guides you below the fold (industry jargon for the stuff you have to scroll to) while directing your eye to pertinent copy.
What story does your website tell?
If you want your IT websites to be effective (and you do), everything counts. About Us, Careers, Services, Blogs: Put as much thought into each page as you put into your homepage. Because you never know where potential clients will enter your site, and you never know what page will convince your next client to pick up the phone.
Now that you know a little bit about design for IT websites, take a look at our client RWA’s site and see if you can spot some of our best practices.