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How to Review a Website Design

October 28, 2020 | Design

More often than not, a company website is a consumer’s first interaction with a brand – so it’s essential to make a strong first impression. Sure, twenty years ago, you may have been able to get away without an online presence – but that’s no longer the case. The internet has gifted us with smarter, lazier shoppers; people want as much information on a potential purchase with as little effort as possible. A well-built website can provide just that. However, if your clients don’t know how to review a website, the finished product may not be the site they thought they were getting.

Why Websites Matter

A website frees visitors from the 9-5 workday constraint; they can browse anytime, anywhere. Websites also provide visitors with a centralized location to find everything they need to know about your business, including store location, contact information, reviews, and social media. And with all of your advertisements leading back to the site, interested individuals won’t have to research to find out how to take the next step in the buying process.  

Perhaps the most significant reason to invest in a website is credibility. A 2018 study found that the bulk of shoppers, 87%, start their product search online. In a sense, if a company has no website, it doesn’t exist for a large portion of people. If you’re ready to take the plunge and develop a site for you or your company – you’ll first need to know how to review a website and what your site needs.

Good Design Matters

Everyone knows the aphorism, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but that’s precisely what we do when it comes to website design. Adobe found 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive. Web design accounts for 94% of first impressions and 75% of a company’s perceived credibility. With nearly three-quarters of businesses investing in branding design, a well-made site is no longer optional for businesses who want to keep up with the competition. 

Functionality Matters

Investing in a poorly functioning website is like investing in the 2008 housing market – a brutal mistake. There’s no shortage in competition; why would an interested customer waste their time on a frustrating site when there are so many others from which to choose? 88% of people are less willing to return to a website after one bad experience, and what constitutes a bad experience in the digital age is always growing. Today, one out of four website visitors will leave a site if it takes longer than four seconds to load. 

A robust website is accessible to people of all abilities, has intuitive navigation, and makes information easy to locate. Of course, this is easier said than done, but you can build anyone a spectacular site, if they know how to review a website throughout development properly. This, of course, will need to include an organized, sufficient review and approval process.    

How to Review a Website 

Be Iterative 

Website development and review should almost always be iterative; this allows for faster, better design. With an iterative process, you can bring multiple ideas to the table without investing too much energy into those that ultimately won’t work out. The first thing that requires approval from stakeholders is the sitemap, which generally takes the form of a diagram describing a website’s flow. The sitemap is a rough outline of the site, laying out all of the different post types a site will have, so it’s essential to approve it before delving too deep into a plan with no future. 

Once the sitemap is stable, we can move to the next stage: the wireframes. Like sitemaps, wireframes provide another rough draft for your website – but these are a little more specific. Wireframes are a blueprint for what each page on the site will actually look like; typically, they show a layout of all of the post types approved in a sitemap. While wireframes don’t include color or specific imagery, designers use these blueprints when creating the actual site, so it’s crucial to ensure they look just right and contain all of the necessary elements.

Once the sitemap and wireframes are fully approved, we get to move to the copy. Here, you are looking for messaging that matches your brand voice, is easily understood, and provides readers with a clear call to action (such as Sign Up Now, Learn More or Subscribe to Our Newsletter). 

Once you’ve nailed the copy, the fun part begins: putting it all together. This is where you get to build the actual site, including imagery, video, colors and icons. However, I should clarify that this step is only fun when the previous steps have been thoroughly completed and approved. Without an iterative approach, it’s very likely the client will have edits for the finalized site; if you’re too deep into the design when you become aware of those edits, you may end up starting from scratch.

Review the Site in All Forms 

63% of internet use is conducted on mobile devices, so a site suited only for desktops effectively bars over half your potential visitors. In 2020, a mobile-friendly site is basically a requirement, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wow visitors with an exceptional experience.  Most websites will work on smartphones and tablets, but a great one will adapt to them. Responsive websites offer users the same information, but they optimize the site’s appearance based on the device in use. An example of this would be buttons and navigation bars. These are usually larger on mobile websites than the desktop version. Our fingers are less nimble than a mouse, making it terribly frustrating to navigate small buttons on a smartphone. 

The next piece to consider for a healthy site across both desktop and mobile is maintaining the hierarchy of information. It’s important to have the most searched for information readily available, particularly for mobile. You should also allow users to view the desktop version on their mobile devices. Some people may already be comfortable navigating the desktop site, or they may have trouble finding everything they need in the mobile version. 

Last but not least is accessibility. While the laws around internet accessibility are vague (which is a generous description), we should consider a few things if we want an inclusive site. To start, font size and color should be easily adjustable, and all images should include a description for screen readers. 

Don’t Leave Any Surprises 

Surprise your client with how impressive the website is, not with the content. Changing items such as photos or graphics without first getting them approved will ultimately slow down the review process. Getting prior approval on every element ensures that the site is exactly what they asked for (though I will not go as far as to say this eliminates late-stage revisions, prior approval just helps prevent them). 

Let Clients Review in Context 

Nothing is genuinely approved until it is approved in context. Your client may love the copy and photos you showed them but hate them in the location you chose. To prevent eternally cycling through revisions, let the client review the content in context; that way, there are no discrepancies down the line. 

How to Review a Website With Ashore

Ashore has everything you need for your website review and approval process. We offer contextual commenting that ties your feedback to a point on the page, options to show pages at varying pixel widths to display how your site will appear on different devices, automated reminders to keep the approval process on schedule, and proof timelines to show when and what revisions have been made. 

We strongly believe website design should be fun, so our platform takes care of the nitty-gritty work – leaving you to focus on what matters: building beautiful, functional websites. Ready to give Ashore a try? Sign up for free today, and get back to creating!

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