Incredibly exciting news here. After weeks of work, this past Friday, it was decided that the Michigan Talent Agenda website was finally ready for launch. Over the next few months, there will still definitely be edits and changes to make, as well as consistent updates, but I am so happy to see this project become a concrete reality. In a slightly embarrassing, but honest, confession, I have occasionally just been searching the URL on Google and then clicking on the site just to confirm that its real.
So what have I learned after this entire process? What very insightful words of wisdom do I have to offer now that I have contributed to the dynamic landscape of cyberspace? In the end, probably not a lot that hasn’t already been whispered, said, or yelled by web designers, but either way here it is. My list of lessons learned after publishing my first website:
1: Design for users
Throughout the semester, I feel like there is one, unbreakable, cardinal rule of web communications I have learned: design for your users. This is a corollary to the other very important rule of “know your audience.” Before reaching the final product, everyone involved in the project each had their vision and ideas for how the website should be structured. However, after going through different drafts, we had to keep on revising and editing, much like a paper, to make the site more easily readable for our audience. We thought a lot about what their behavior would be interacting with the site? Where would they want to go first? How can we direct them towards the information we want them to see most?
2: Copy is just as an important as pixels
A great quote I found while looking for web design help: “It’s time we designers stop thinking of ourselves as merely pixel people, and start thinking of ourselves as the creators of experiences. And when it comes to experience on the web, there’s no better way to create it than to write, and write well.” —Derek Powazek. This quote is incredibly accurate. Every slideshow, drop-down menu, or nav-bar isn’t worth anything if the written words on the site aren’t engaging.
My last and final lesson in designing the site is: when in doubt keep it simple. Not only does simplicity make information more easily accessed for the user, but especially for a novice web designer like myself, it is important not try to do too much. It is always better to keep things simple, than risk any user finding the site confusing. This is especially true when considering “donate now” campaigns, or “get involved” pages. If any of these tasks prove to be too difficult for a user to preform, then the site is actively turning away supporters.
Make sure to check out www.mitalentagenda.com and let me know what you think!