Holistic Web Design

This article was first published on October 11, 2010, at The Online Marketing Mix.

I’ve been developing web sites for over a decade and I’ve noticed trends that have come and gone, but there is something that always appears to be a consistent theme. It is that when a website is planned from the very beginning with a holistic approach it is more likely to be a successful endeavour.

What do I mean by a ‘holistic’ approach? Well, I don’t mean fishing out the massage oils and hot stones whilst chanting some zen ditties. I simply mean thinking about all aspects of web design as a whole, rather than focusing disproportionately upon, say, the aesthetic design or the SEO keywords, or how it links with your social media or other marketing efforts.

Fixating upon a single element of your web site will necessarily distract attention (and likely time and money) from all the other other elements that make up the whole of your web presence. Taking account of your web presence as a whole, from its very inception, is much more likely to reap better results than diverting disproportionate resources to a single element of your web system to the detriment of others.

Web design, like life, is about balance, and occasionally even compromise. If your website is out of balance with your business objectives, or your Search Engine Optimisation plans, or your offline marketing campaigns, then you need to address this as soon as possible.

A website in disharmony with the rest of your business can lead to confused customers. For instance, if your website looks completely different from your business cards or brochures, customers might wonder if they are visiting the right website after following the web address on the material gave them (you do display your URL on your marketing material, don’t you?).

Consider also the needs of your staff. There was a poor web designer (OK. It was I) who, after launching a large website, was called up by the head of a department asking why their department was not represented on the website that had just launched. Not an easy conversation to have, but, I suspect, it was much easier than the conversation that Department Head had with the marketing team and CEO as to why they were left out of the web design process.

Web designers are not mind readers, but a wise web designer will take the time to learn your business and will pro-actively advise you when you appear to be focusing too much on one element of design, and will promote harmony by advising you on the trade offs you might be making throughout the design process.

It is far better – and more cost effective – to harmonise your website with your business during the design process, than to discover later on that your website is not achieving the right balance between looking great, functioning perfectly, and being an asset to your overall marketing strategy.

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