Always Design With Your Community In Mind

community-designWhen it comes to web design, it would be nice if there was a unified ideal that we could all reach towards, but that simply isn’t the case. Sure there are best practices, and techniques that tend to look good wherever they are applied, but in the end it gets messy, as usually happens when humans are involved.

The thing is, people change, and since web design is usually a creative effort focused on user experience, we must take the changing whims and diverse nature of humanity into account when we design for them. Of course, we cannot take the entirety of everyone’s desires into account, and we cannot even focus it in by nation or region if we hope to maintain any of our sanity. The pool would still be too large, the number of conflicting needs and likes too great to come to a consensus on which direction a given design should take.

This is why it’s so important to design a website with your (or your client’s) community in mind. The more focused your design is on a specific subset of people, the clearer your choices will become, and the more tailored to their wants and need it will be. The more those wants and needs are filled, the more successful your business will be!

So how do you design to demographic? Stick around, and I’ll throw you a few pointers.

The More You Know

You can’t even begin down this road if you don’t have concrete information about the community you are designing for, what they are looking for, and what types of aesthetics appeal to them. If you are building your business around or within this community, then I assume you have at least a basic understanding of them, but even if your relationship is strong and nuanced, I urge you to do a little research.

What kind of research? Any is better than none! This really can be pretty broad — absorb cultural stuff like the music they like to listen to, or watch they shows they are into. Learn the kind of language they use, specific slang or technical terms can be very effective for establishing credibility if they are used correctly. Whether you do the broader research or not, you should check out the websites of successful competitors or related businesses that speak to the same community as yours, and pay attention to trends that seem to be widely adopted. Also, look for functionality or interface design that is particularly effective and consider adopting it.

Conversely, you should also pay attention to areas where your competitors are failing, where their design seems off or where their messaging falls flat or is tone-deaf. Staying away from things that don’t work is also an important part of designing for a community, it’s not all about cramming in everything they do. Plus, if you come out of the gate already looking good where your competitors fail, you position you yourself for success.

Time to Design

Now that you’ve done your research, you can confidently dive into the design phase, making decisions based on achieving an end result that is harmonious with the culture of the community you are designing for. You will want to structure your interface and overall layout to fit the actions you want your users to take and choose fonts, colors and color combinations that speak to the emotional tone and personality you are trying to achieve. When choosing images or graphics, try to make sure that they are relatable, and speak to the people you are trying to attract.

Remember that a website is not a static document, but rather a living breathing one. As you build your site, pay careful attention to user experience (UX) as they flow though the site, making sure that the UX remains positive even as they transition from one part to another. Make sure that the site works wherever your demographic might view it, which these days usually means making sure it works everywhere.

No Fire and Forget

Just because you launched your sparkly new website doesn’t mean you are done designing. The best time to fine-tune your design for your community is actually after it has launched. Because you have analytics available from the new site (you do have analytics, right?), a whole new host of data about the way your community is interacting directly with your business is now available to you. Use this data to further refine your design based on the interactions you see. Do some A/B testing. Even if your site is incredibly successful out of the gate, it is important to do this to stay on top of changing trends.

Want to make sure your new site speaks to your community? Give the design team at Solamar a shout!

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