In wrapping up 2009, it’s good to assess our sites and projects by seeing what needs updating or revisions, like that copyright at the bottom of the page or those old holiday deals that need to be changed out. By thinking of your site or design as a living/changing thing, you can build on the story you have already created and demonstrate to your users that you have a good attention to detail.
Policy Pages, Terms & Conditions, Copyrights, etc.
Make sure all of these documents and terms are updated and reflect your company’s standards and procedures. This routine maintenance can help you avoid legal issues. Update your copyright to reflect the new year.
Photos and Illustrations Up to Par?
You can connect and enhance your message with the use of strong imagery that goes further than the generic, actually works with the content and expresses the story deeper, adding to the experience. Does that image work with the overall message or is it simply filling space? If it is just filling space, you have missed an opportunity. Are the stock photos showing people with huge cell phones or 80′s neon jumpsuits? If so, think about updating them.
Typography and Copy
Strap lines, headlines and pull quotes! Pay attention to these type elements. These are often the triggers that the viewer starts from. Use the copy on a page to further the design, echo the design, and let the text influence the design elements. Now is the time to swap out those holiday deals for New Year ones or just remove them entirely. Make sure all of your expired promotions and coupon codes have been removed from the site, and focus on keeping your copy clean and updated for the new year.
Try Something Different or Just Be Good
Headers, footers and sidebars?! Challenge the status quo and push the pixels without fear of getting it wrong — this takes guts, but it’s worth a shot. Forget any idea that this is how a website design needs to look. Start your ideas on paper and save the wireframes for last. Aesthetics, functionality and usability are all involved with great design but don’t forget storytelling. Connect with the viewer emotionally, think beyond the screen and the web itself and work work backwards. As you try and juggle cutting-edge design and ideas, don’t forget that people have to actually use the site.
Don’t be afraid of inspiration — it comes from everywhere, not just the web. Check out your old record collection, doesn’t that sleeve inspire you! The screen, the browser, is a two dimensional canvass… however, it is a canvass that allows user input and interactivity. Conventions are conventions for a reason. An experience should not entail searching around a company’s website for their contact information. I also hate scrolling sideways unless it is a portfolio site or something that encourages an experience like that. There are always going to be usability issues as well as technical limitations, but this goes for every medium.
Revolution is a Series of Mini Evolutions
Even by pushing your ideas and designs just 2% further, each time you will gain movement and in time be something larger. Have patience with your work. Consider context and the users’ previous experiences with similar content and functionalities.
As 2009 comes to a close, it is always a good idea to check for any old lines of copy or outdated images. The new year is always a good time to think about your designs and sites and see if your message and story is still the story you set out to tell. Being a designer, we have to express the goals and ideas of each of our clients. With every new project we also express a piece of ourselves. Have an exceptional 2010, design your dreams and tell your story with everything you have got!