What comes first when developing a website – content or the design? Whilst it is accepted that ‘content is king’ how do you decide on the design and WordPress template you are going to use?
Your focus should always be on providing your website visitor with a positive experience. We are all user-experts from our own online experiences … my personal pet hates include pop-ups, slow loading times due to large images (particularly those “montage ones where a number of images have been squeezed into one), lack of prices and having to hunt down contact information!
STEP 1 OF WEBSITE DESIGN – TEXT
So, before even looking at website templates (admittedly I find that the fun bit) I would recommend sitting down with a blank sheet and formulating what information you want to give your customers. You should then group and prioritise this information so that you have a rough idea of the structure and likely size of your website.
You may find one of the key challenges at this text stage will either be reducing your narratives to make them quick and easy for your visitors to read; or as in my case with my background in defence writing and love of the bullet point list, writing enough information to help search engines. Yoast, who I find one of the most useful resources for search engine optimisation, recommend a minimum of 300 words per page to add content that is relevant for the topic. Quality remains key though, so don’t just waffle just to make the magic 300.
STEP 2 OF WEBSITE DESIGN – IMAGES
Once you have your structure and information what about images? The beauty of pictures is that they can communicate instantly, add context to your text and make a page more visually appealing to visitors. The negatives? They can slow down your page, leave a poor impression or be too distracting. So, whether using your own images, professional images or stock photos (with the correct copyright permissions in place!) then you need to ask yourself what value each image will add. If it doesn’t add value then don’t use it.
STEP 3 OF WEBSITE DESIGN – DESIGN
You should now have a selection of potentially useful images and an outline of the structure of your site with text. You can therefore start to consider the design (hoorah!). I love looking at WordPress themes and considering the art of the possible. Key points that I consider at this stage though are:
– The templates popularity (number of installs).
– Number of reviews and how many stars.
– Date of last update.
– How healthy the template’s support forum is i.e. lots of questions might indicate the template is difficult to use and lack of responses could mean that you’ll struggle to get answers if you do hit an issue.
I won’t spoil your fun in looking through the themes but my current favourites are ASTRID (have a look at one of my demo sites to give you an idea) and TWENTY SEVENTEEN. Both of these are relatively easy to use, provide good support and excellent layout options particularly for your mobile users.