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8 design tips in planning your new website in 2014

14 July 2014 | 06:00 am

The new CrowdControlHQ website went live last month and we’ve had very positive feedback (thank you). A number of people have got in touch to ask if we have any web design tips to share as they grapple with re-designing their own websites to cater for the ‘mobile’ age? We hope you find the following useful in planning your new web project and keep in touch and let us know how you are getting on.

We are very fortunate to have a very talented development team in-house and our website project was led technically by Richard with support, help and chocolate provided by the rest of the development team.  Michelle managed the creative process, developing the look and feel of the site with the design team, ensuring that it reinforced our central messaging, image and positioning. She also cracked the whip in terms of managing the milestones!

The build itself took three weeks, with the four weeks prior used for project planning. The latter involved speaking to our existing clients for feedback, reviewing best practice in terms of design & tech and identifying other sites that we loved.

A pizza and chicken wings ‘think tank’ session played an important part of the planning process, involving all members of the CrowdControlHQ team, to help shape the aspiration, weigh up the pros and cons of the various options available to us for build and help to prioritise the creative and functional ideas.

The final solution in terms of design and technical specification were converted into an action list for the design and the tech team to implement. (If you were outsourcing this would be your specification to your outsourcing supplier).

The following were the key design areas we focused on for the new CrowdControlHQ website:

1) WordPress – we created the new website on a WordPress platform, customising the pages based on our design. We update the site at least twice if not three times a week with blogs and news and we wanted the process to be so simple that any member of the team could do it! We put it to the vote and decided that a combination of Wordpress with plug-ins for any additional functionality worked best for us.

2) Fully responsive – this was one of the key influences on our reason to update our site.  Our research showed that clients were viewing our site on an array of mobile devices and tablets.  Our new website had to be fully functional, regardless of the size of the screen. During the build this meant that Richard had to spend time checking the display (for which he used a neat little app).

3) Finger swipe navigation – In this mobile age, navigation is reliant on the finger! Lots of clicking and drop down menus are very frustrating when viewed on mobile devices.  So the design was heavily influenced by the ‘chubby finger’ test and the design was developed to accommodate finger movement (rather than mouse click).

4) Direction of scroll – linked to finger navigation was the choice of direction in terms of movement.  Swiping right to left can be satisfying (on a tablet) in terms of movement but can cause over zealous speedy movement, which means the visitor takes on board less about what you have to say (albeit enjoys a great arm work out).  Instead, we opted for top down scrolling. It made populating the pages very straight forward and felt less jerky.

5) Floating menu bar – It was really important to ensure that our visitors didn’t become disorientated, lost and/or unable to contact us.  The challenge with scrolling down is that you can lose ‘anchor’ contact. Richard built in a floating menu bar to ensure that this didn’t happen as well as some smooth navigation elements to avoid jerky ‘sticking’ as content moved down the page.

6) Creative design – the design played a critical element. It needed to reinforce our brand, our positioning and our ethos. We wanted something that was visually interesting and reinforced our credentials in social media.  We think that the use of the tag cloud design for our menus achieved this as well as the use of a consistent colour application used on the imagery used on the site.

7) Interactive blog – We produce a number of blogs and news items, which generate considerable comment so we made this area more interactive to add interest and a sense of discovery when flicking through our content.  This area is still under development with a phase 2 on the horizon as we have more ideas for the development of this are and the analytics demonstrate that this is by far the most popular part of our site.

8) Analytics – by the very nature of the DNA of CrowdControlHQ as the UK’s leading social media risk management and compliance platform, we live and breathe analytics! When it came to our new website we took time to plan the visitor journey and identify the key metrics that were important to us to allow for effective monthly evaluation and analysis.

Good luck in planning your new site and do tweet us @CrowdControlHQ or contact us below if you have any questions.