Professor Java
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The Importance of Professional Web Design

Now that goals are set, the site map is made and the user-flow has been engineered, it's time to put a skin on the plan.

A professionally designed website can and should do many things: It should instill confidence in the end user and give them the warm-fuzzy-feeling that this website owner cares about their business. I personally have abandoned many shopping carts in my online shopping days simply because the website didn't feel "professional." And, I'm pretty sure I am not alone in this experience. Who wants to buy from or interact with a site that looks dodgy? Exactly.

Enter your brilliant web design that will make people swoon, love you, send you fan mail, talk about you all over the internets far and wide, and buy your rad stuff. But first, let's talk about what's involved in the design process for your rock-star site.

The typical website design process follows these steps:

A meeting to discuss design direction with a review of the website planning documents (don't worry - it's officially fun!)

Gathering design assets such as logo files, page copy and stock photography

A design draft or two submitted to the client in "flat" format (a picture of what the site can look like)

Client review and suggestions

Design revisions to incorporate suggestions and final tweaks...

And finally, an approved design

It's very important in this phase of a web design project that the lines of communication are kept open between the designer and client. This keeps creativity flowing and the website development moving at a good and efficient pace.

Everyone needs to be goal minded through this process and be sure that the look and feel is expressing these goals appropriately - such as considering the demographics of the target audience. For example, if it's a design for a stout, established financial institute with a traditional brand targeting users in the 40-65 year old user group, then a flashy design with bling and hip-hop music would not be appropriate. Utilizing clean design for seamless user flow.

If the goals of the website include getting a user to donate to a cause, sign up for an event or download a white paper, then these should be reflected in the design and layout of the website in prominent places so as to not leave the user guessing about what the site offers.

When a user lands on the website they should gain a feeling of trust and immediately be drawn to the calls to action on the page. The design and layout of a website should not just enforce branding, but should also provide a road map to a successful user experience - which will keep them coming back for more.
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