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Why designing a website is like choosing your partner

Cast your mind back to when you first met your partner, what was it that attracted you to them? Most likely it was their good looks, their smile, or a cheeky chat up line. Of course, this may have helped get the ball rolling, but wouldn’t be the reason why you’re still with them years later, after all, they say that beauty is only skin deep.

With this in mind, a pretty website may grab your attention in a similar way; it could be the overall look, a large dazzling image, or perhaps a catchy strapline. Just like when choosing a partner the initial appearance will lure people in but isn’t going to keep them browsing.

With a person you may soon discover that their initial beauty was the only thing that you liked, that they lacked a personality (or simply clashed with yours), had different goals, or was just generally difficult to get along with.

Why would a website be any different? It may look nice but could be hard to use or show you information that you don’t care about. Just like you would walk away from a potential partner, here you would walk away from the website and find another. In both cases, there are usually ‘plenty more fish in the sea’.

There is most likely a partner for everyone, somewhere. Even the most undesirable of people will be desired by someone, and the same can be said for websites in that even the most badly built websites will appeal to some people, or will at least have them persevere with it.

Most people, of course, are monogamous and have one partner that they need to keep happy, but websites are most effective when they keep a lot of people happy, specifically when these people are in the target demographic.

One very undesirable trait of a person is if they are self-centred, and generally we prefer people who listen to us and take an interest in what we do. Again websites are no different, and too many businesses lose customers by talking too much about themselves, and not enough relating to the client and saying how they can help.

So when looking at your website, look at it as if it is your partner. How would your website appear if the looks disappeared? When the beauty has gone and you look deeper, does the content still reflect what you do? It is easy to move from one area to another? Is it clear what you want the users to do? Is the website self-centred and only talking about your business?

This is part of what’s called the user experience, or ‘UX’ as us techies like to call it and is arguably the most important aspect of web design.

When we create a new website we always start by keeping the pretty parts of the design such as the colours and smaller elements completely separate from the overall layout, flow and content.

Why? Well, imagine how easy dating would be if you could see a person’s personality before you chose them, rather than basing your decision entirely on their looks. Doing it this way enables our clients to see past the initial aesthetics and we can see how their website will work ‘under the skin’. We can get this right before worrying about the initial appearance so that when the colours and styles are added the website is both nice to look at, and most importantly, functional.

We are Colour Cymru, we know that websites are not skin deep.

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