How to Design a Better Mobile Checkout

By Jessica Ann
June 26, 2014

We’re no longer shopping by walking the aisles and lining up at a register. Instead we’re shopping through our mobile devices. Mobile e-commerce increased by 81% in 2012, bringing in $25 billion. As we look to the web design trends for the rest of the year, it’s more important than ever to think about how to design a better mobile checkout.

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The best way to maintain that kind of growth is to make the experience as friction-free as possible. People shopping in a store will get frustrated and impatient if made to wait in long lines or if it’s difficult to get their questions answered. Just as some brick-and-mortar stores get a reputation for a top-notch shopping experience, an online shopping provider can build a reputation for easy checkout.

Here are some ways to improve the mobile checkout experience and increase the chances your customers will complete the process:

Mobile E-commerce is Increasing

The first step to improving checkout experience is to fully appreciate the situation. Mobile commerce is expected to reach more than $86 billion by 2016. That’s 24% of all retail e-commerce, and the growth will likely continue.

The popularity of tablets undoubtedly contributes to the increase in mobile checkouts, with $24 billion spent from the large-screen mobile devices in 2013. With smartphones having lost their early lead, designers have to keep in mind the rise of tablets as the dominant mobile checkout use case.

Simplify the Process

When someone has decided to buy something online, they have already overcome all sorts of obstacles. It takes a leap of faith for many to even consider offering their credit card information over the Internet. And then there’s the chance what they’re buying won’t look as perfect for them as it did on the website (or the model, for that matter). So once they have committed to a purchase by heading to your checkout page, the process should be as barebones as possible.

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Don’t ask unnecessary questions, offer annoying up-sells or opt customers into mailing lists. Remember, they’re on a smartphone or a tablet. That means screen real estate is precious. And their attention cannot be lost in frivolous requests. You’ll need to ask for their name, shipping and payment information. Anything else will take up space and frustrate your customer. The worst sin of mobile checkout design is unnecessarily complicating the process. So, include no more that what’s needed to complete the purchase.

Be Our Guest

The only thing worse than making someone fill in unnecessary fields to complete a purchase on a mobile device is requiring them to make a profile with your site. Don’t require account creation in your checkout process. It’s like requiring people in a physical store to take out a loyalty card just to complete their purchase. Many customers don’t want to be bothered, and will go to another store if you keep making these types of demands. Your customers want to buy things as quickly and with as little interference as possible.

Design your mobile checkout experience like you would a physical store. Make the default user a guest, and provide a link somewhere to create an account for those interested. But don’t require anything at checkout except what you need to charge and ship.

Moving Along

The best mobile checkout experience will require one simple page of information and show a big, bright “Purchase” button at the bottom. Compare the Moby and Kay Jewelers checkout pages pictured in this article. The longer the page, the more likely the process will hit a snag. There is always the chance of customer fatigue (“Why do they need all of this?!”), typos and second-guessing the purchase price. By the time they are checking out, customers are eager to give you money, so make it as simple as possible.

If you need more than one page to complete the purchase, provide a clear indication of how far along the process is at each new page. Also offer the ability to move backward as well as forward. This assures the customer they are nearing a successful purchase, and gives them a chance to correct any errors they may have made in a previous screen and maximizes their sense of control.

If you’re aiming to design a better mobile checkout, keep the above ideas in mind during the design process. It will produce the best possible mobile experience for your customers, and will future-proof your design as mobile commerce continues to grow in the coming years.

Why Summer is the Best Time to Start on Web Design

By Jessica Ann
June 23, 2014

Whether you’re creating a new site or iterating on one that already exists, web design is an ongoing process. But you’ve got to start some time. Here’s why summer is the best time to start on web design.

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Getting Some Fresh Air

The number one reason why summer is the best time to start on web design is the ability to work outside. You may want to start in the early morning or work in the early evening to avoid the worst of the heat, but getting out of the office is a great way to liven things up. This is especially true if you’re wrestling with a web designer’s version of writer’s block.

Many employers have outdoor areas for breaks and lunch, and those with picnic tables have a built-in outdoor office for those beautiful summer days. Many laptops and tablets have excellent battery life and enable you to work for hours without being tethered to an outlet. And it’s a lot more fun to work from home when you’re sitting out on the deck or in the garden.

Inspiration is Everywhere

Maybe you prefer to work inside even during the summer, and that’s fine. But there’s something far more inspiring about the bright vivid colors of summer, especially after a long, gray winter. Even the people are more lively during the summer, going to the pool, to barbecues or just playing outside.

Your own vacation can do a lot to recharge your creative batteries. Time away from the daily grind, especially in an exciting or unfamiliar environment, might be just what you need for the next moment of brilliance. Beautiful new places and interesting new acquaintances are a great way to get open to new inspiration.

Prototyping is Easier Without Gloves

Carry a moleskin or other notebook around during the summer. Summer means no gloves or mittens, and no cold hands if inspiration strikes while you’re outside or in the car (not while driving, of course!). A quick hand-drawn sketch is a great way to capture quick layout ideas. If you’re more of a tablet person, that will work just as well, although you may want to keep a stylus around, too.

Notebooks are also great for the beach, where sand and saltwater makes using computing devices risky business. Try coming up with a web design drafted on paper with your toes in the sand and your head in the clouds. PhotoShop is a web designer’s best friend, but it’s not sighted very often at the beach.

You may have your own reasons why summer is the best time to start on web design. Perhaps a cold beer on a sunny day opens you to more unusual and potentially engaging designs. Maybe coffee outside the local breakfast shop gives you the chance to let your mind wander. Or you’re the kind of person that is just happier during the summer. Regardless, see what you can come up with this summer. And have some fun while you’re at it.

 

Emotional Branding and Your Business

By Jessica Ann
June 18, 2014

It seems like a slam-dunk: show your competitor’s pricing and feature set besides your lower pricing and more robust feature set. Any viewer will see they should go with your product, right? Wrong. The missing link between that marketing approach and a successful one is paying attention to what emotional branding can do for your business. The key is to not only show the facts, but to tie them together with an emotional investment in your brand.

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We all understand that logic can lead to better decisions, but that doesn’t stop many from relying instead on emotion. The Vulcan aliens from Star Trek embraced logic in all areas of life, and often scoffed at the human reliance on emotions. The famous science officer and diplomat Spock was the son of a Vulcan father and a human mother. He knew the value of weighing each decision with appropriate amounts of logic and emotion. Good branding is like Spock, always keeping its logical and emotional foundations in mind.

Spock as Brand Manager

You can’t hire Spock as a brand manager, but you can use his lessons on embracing a dual nature to build a better marketing strategy. Few people will want to come right out and say they are emotional about their decisions, but that doesn’t make it less true. Instead, says Rick Sloboda in the linked article, you have to offer a logical hook people can use to rationalize their emotional decisions. But no one shows his or her friends a clever commercial because it’s logical. We share things because they make an emotional impact. And we want to share the experience of emotions.

This is why it’s important to focus on that emotional aspect of your branding – but not to lose sight of the need for a logical hook. Doing so can provide your customers with everything they need to make the  decision to go with your product or service.

The Pros and Cons of Emotional Triggers 

Positive emotional triggers aren’t hard to name. They’re things like love, passion, and innovation. According to author and behaviorist Barry Feig, these are ways of differentiating your product among a sea of equivalent competitors. Pressing such “hot buttons” will cause people to remember and prefer your brand.

But it’s not always a good idea to rely on an emotional trigger. Sometimes emotional branding should be approached with more nuance than simply stamping a name on the side of a product. Steve McKee of Bloomberg Businessweek once wrote about an experience he had taking his son to buy basketball shoes. The first pair his son chose looked perfect for the job. But the Dennis Rodman branding immediately turned McKee off. It no longer mattered to him that the shoes looked comfortable and had a sleek design. The Rodman association immediately altered McKee’s behavior despite his initially logical approach.

Emotional branding can do a lot for your business if you take the time to implement it. The primary issue to consider is what emotion is motivating your customers to buy products like yours. From there, it’s important to be consistent about which emotion you choose to incorporate into your branding. Eventually, you can get to the point where your logo on a product is enough to overcome logic and close a sale.

How to Understand Plugins in Web Design

By moosnews
June 16, 2014

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It’s important to learn how to understand plugins in web design. There are many options and a variety of platforms that let you add functionality easily through built-in search-and-install tools. Other platforms require you to paste some code directly in your site’s theme. The code that’s added to a website allows you to do certain things that you couldn’t do before – this is what a plugin does.  

It can seem daunting at first. After all, there are thousands of articles and forum posts about plugins for every aspect of a website. And you’re not alone if the mere mention of pasting code into your site makes you nervous. Plugins are powerful because they can usually enable and disable features on a site-wide basis, saving a lot of time and energy.

Vacuums and Web Design

Let’s talk about vacuums. Yes. Vacuums are a great way to think about how to use plugins in web design.

While there are some pretty fancy vacuums out there these days, the concept is still the same: use spinning brushes to pull dirt particles out of the carpet and suck them up a tube into a bag. It’s a simple machine for a basic job, and anyone can do it.

But, just like with plugins, not many people fully understand – or appreciate – all of the bells and whistles involved. And the similarities don’t stop here. Vacuums often come with an assortment of attachments. Some are extensions for reaching into ceiling corners, while others are wide brushes for attacking the dog hair that finds its way under the couch. Still others have a slight curve to them meant to clean around difficult angles.

A Tumblr Example

Most blogging and website tools will work just fine for many people right out of the box. But if you’re interested in measuring the traffic to your Tumblr site, you’ll have to go into your bag of attachments to find the right plugin.

Tumblr doesn’t have it’s own built-in plugin system, but some themes let you paste a Google Analytics account number, and you can always paste the code into your theme yourself. It’s like a vacuum which accepts parts made by other brands.

A WordPress Example

WordPress is the fancy vacuum of plugins. It has a vast library of plugins (more than 31,000 as of this writing). They are broken down into categories based on what aspect of your site they are used to enhance, including sidebar, comments and Twitter. Like vacuum attachments, you can turn them on or off, add new ones and throw away (delete) those you don’t use anymore.

The good news is that Fat Cow has tutorials to get you started. The built-in installation and removal capability makes it a great way to learn how to understand plugins in web design.

The Power of Plugins

Like vacuums and their parts, websites and their plugins are most effective when used by someone who knows what they want to accomplish. If you already know most people find you through links to your website shared on social networks, you can use a plugin to make sure that your sharing buttons are accessible on each page, or on your site’s sidebar.

You can easily add comments to your website with a plugin such as Livefyre or Disqus. These plugins make it super easy to delete or deactivate, with no need to go through and change every single page of your site.

Another perfect use for plugins is font customization. For instance, Google Web Fonts is a free database of typography you can use on your site. You can select one or more fonts and then get the code you need to add them to your site. Once again, WordPress has plugins dedicated to Google Web Fonts, making it easy to add, change or remove fonts from your site.

Plugins in web design are an effective and versatile way to enhance the design of your site. And like vacuums, most sites are compatible in one form or another, and the possibilities are almost endless.

 

How to Understand Digital Design: Creativity is Not an Option

By Jessica Ann
June 12, 2014

It’s important to understand how to target your audience through web design. It could be that thinking of it as merely a tool is missing the point. Many advances start as a tool, but then either trigger adaptation of processes and workflows – or fade away into irrelevance.

One or two employees or stakeholders will mention in passing that they are using this new tool, or that new technique. Eventually, someone will ask them why, and for more details. A decision maker will see the light, and the entire team will soon be “on-boarded” with the new stuff. Suddenly, an early adopter’s little-known toy can become the linchpin of an entire company’s success.

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Design Goes Digital

Design is, at its core, the art of practicality. There is always a driving purpose to which a design is directed. The modern smartphone is most often designed as a “candy bar” because the shape is easy to hold and manipulate with one hand. Over time, smartphones have become larger as use cases have shifted (the original iPhone didn’t even have apps). Photo browsing and reading are now dominant activities on smartphones and the larger screens improve user experience.

Before the digital age, design was a solely tactile pursuit. Whether drawing up building plans or sculpting product prototypes, designers worked with their hands and often in three dimensions. The rise of digital tools and techniques didn’t, or at least shouldn’t, change the approaches taken by great designers. In other words, those who excelled at design before digital are still in a great position to lead.

The Tools Change, But the Goal Remains the Same

Digital design is so much more than a tool. Instead, it is a perspective. Digital design leaders don’t simply know which software works best for a project, or which programming languages to use on the front-end and the server side. They understand great digital design still has the goal of furthering an artistic or business objective. The digital doesn’t displace the practical. It just empowers designers to get there more accurately and efficiently.

The creative types will dominate if they understand this. And those lacking creativity will remain inadequate despite having all the digital tools in the world. Digital design requires at least a working knowledge of the essential languages of front-end work, like CSS and HTML, the ability to mock up designs in graphic design software and to adapt them to many display contexts. But at the end of the day, discerning client or project goals and maintaining that thread throughout the design process is, as it has always been, the most important part of design.

Awareness as Adaptation

Understanding digital design then isn’t necessarily about being a PhotoShop expert or mastering CSS animations. Remember Flash? It came, it saw, it conquered, and then it became an outdated design mode overused by restaurants and unusable on mobile devices. Yes, it’s still the basis of some of the most fun distractions on the Internet.

Digital design is less about being distracted by every possibility. And more about being aware of what is out there, what is outmoded, and what is on the horizon. The real adaptation isn’t in mastering everything that comes along. But in being aware of it and knowing when you’re the expert and when it’s time to call for help. Digital or not, the most important part of design is using creativity to achieve practical goals.

 

Heartbleed Vulnerability and Your Website

By Jen Merry
April 10, 2014

The first question you may be asking yourself is “What exactly is the Heartbleed bug?” The following quote comes from directly from heartbleed.com:

“The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.”  

Learn more about the Heartbleed Vulnerability at heartbleed.com.

The second question you’re likely asking yourself is if FatCow was affected. We want to assure you that the security of our customers is a top priority. We began addressing the Heartbleed vulnerability issue immediately upon disclosure and have successfully applied patches to all of our platforms. The likelihood that private information was compromised is very minimal due to the lack of a public exploit at the time of the disclosure. We will continue to work to protect the security of our customers and their data.

Learn if your site is vulnerable by going to heartbleedcheck.com.

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Heartbleed Questions and Answers

Q: Is my server vulnerable?
A: There was a period when anyone relying on openssl was vulnerable. Upon disclosure of the vulnerability, we immediately patched our entire platform. At this time, our servers are not vulnerable and information is secure.

Q: Has FatCow replaced its own SSLs?
A: Yes, upon the disclosure of the vulnerability we immediately reached out to our SSL providers and began the process of having all of our internal and external SSLs reissued.

Q: Should I replace my SSLs?
A: That is a personal choice. If you feel it’s worth the time, or if you are dealing with sensitive data, then it’s a good idea to have your cert re-issued. The likelihood that your private keys were compromised is very minimal due to the lack of a public exploit at the time of the disclosure. However, if you do decide you would like to reissue, we will be happy to assist.

Q: Was my security or privacy compromised?
A: There was a period when anyone relying on openssl was vulnerable. Upon disclosure of the vulnerability, we immediately patched our entire platform. The likelihood that your private keys were compromised is very minimal due to the lack of a public exploit at the time of the disclosure.

Q: Should I change all of my passwords because of the heartbleed exploit?
A: Changing your passwords periodically, using strong passwords and keeping your passwords secure are things that we always recommend. While we can’t say for sure what the extent of the potential impact of this heartbleed exploit may be, we always feel that it’s a good idea to exercise best practices when it comes to password usage. If you haven’t changed your passwords recently (or even if you have), this is a great opportunity to do so, while you’re thinking about it.

How to Design a Website for Your Digital Product

By Jessica Ann
April 4, 2014

Using visuals as the gravitational center of your web design is a great way to design a website for your digital product. When you target your audience through visually stunning web design, you can reverse-engineer how your product or service is perceived. After all, visuals are one of the top five traits of good web design.

For example, if you’re selling a mobile phone, you’ll want gorgeous, high-resolution, full-bleed photographs of the phone in perfect lighting. A car demands many different angles. Real estate may even lend itself to those fancy 3D tours that are popping up all over the web these days.

But what if your product’s only physical characteristic is digital? In other words, how do you design a website for a digital product?

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Shoot your screen

Well, not literally.

Shooting your screen the civil way – by capturing screenshots – is one way to feature your digital product in action. When you showcase lots of gorgeous, high-resolution, full-bleed photographs of the digital product in action, your digital product comes alive.

Use visuals

You could also create a video on your home page of a woman sitting in the grass on a beautiful day, tapping her way through your elegant app. Or you can find a photo that has just enough whitespace to make your product visually pop.

But there are other more imaginative ways too.

Bring it to life

One impressive way to do this is to use top-notch programming skills to make those photographs or that video come to life. The best way to sell something digital is to let your customers use it. Show them how delightful and effective it is by allowing them to experience it first-hand. This is not selling at all  – but demonstrating the worthiness of the product for purchase.

The combination of HTML5, CSS, and Javascript in addition to AJAX make building an example screen of your software (whether it’s for desktop or mobile) relatively easy and it’s a great way to give users a taste of your product’s value.

If you prefer pixels over Python script, you can leave the coding to a contractor, or use an incredible service like AppDemoStore to create a working demo of your app for any device.

If you want to go a different route, focus more on the themes in which your digital product is most useful. Bring these features out with testimonials from recognizable names and voila! You’re on your way to creating a sincere web design that builds trust.

If your digital product is well designed from a usability standpoint, you don’t need to focus so much on explaining how it works. Rather focus on explaining why it works. What makes your product different from others? If you’re in a crowded space, differentiation is better than all the visually stunning images photos in the world. Of course, it never hurts to have both – photos and clarity with your messaging.

Whether you showcase screenshots of your product or feature the opinion of a trusted name, clearly explain why your digital product is different. Communicate this aspect throughout your website. You’ll peak interest and get new users on board in the most civil way – by building trust.

How to Understand Responsive Design

By Jessica Ann
April 2, 2014

Once upon a time, a primitive website built only for desktop viewing was enough for many businesses to get by. You may even remember the era when it was acceptable to publish a website that wasn’t finished yet, excusing your rush with a magnificently corny “under construction” image. These days if your site doesn’t hit on at least a few of the web design trends for 2014, isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s practically invisible. That makes it more important than ever to understand what responsive design means for your business.

If you don’t mind admitting you’re “internet old,” take a walk down memory lane. These days, display resolution, browser advances and customer expectations demand more than a plain old HTML site. And, whether it automatically resizes or not, an “under construction” sign is just never a good idea.

In fact, most website hosting providers, including the popular and free WordPress, offer a built-in responsive layout to help the less technically inclined. With so many easy options, a small business website without responsive design now stands out for all the wrong reasons.

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Why Responsive Design Matters

If you’re reading this on a desktop computer, hold the Control key (Command on Macs) and press the hyphen key a few times to shrink the page. If this site always looked like that on a mobile device like a phone or even an iPad, would you want to continue to read?

Exactly. Now, for goodness sake, hold Control or Command and press the zero key to return this page to its normal size.

No one likes to read while squinting. It’s uncomfortable. And it makes you look like you’re breathing in some awful smell in the room. But that’s what readers on mobile devices look like (and are forced to experience) when visiting a site without responsive design. Just look around on the street or the subway or the movie theater to see that the modern web is increasingly consumed on smartphones.

And, by the way, if you’re looking at your phone in the movie theater, you’re getting the stink eye from someone. Looking at your bright screen in a dark theater stinks the movie experience for everyone sitting around you.

Designing Responsively, Responsibly

We should have mentioned one of those statistics we glossed over earlier: 90 percent of mobile searches end with the user actually doing something. That means they’re visiting your business, calling your help line or posting to social networks about your services.

That means websites ignoring responsive design methods are potentially missing out on the overwhelming majority of new user interactions. That’s leads, conversions and cold hard cash that never get captured. Go hold a one dollar bill over the trashcan. Isn’t it an uncomfortable feeling? That’s what people are doing when they use a website that doesn’t react to the size and capabilities of the device on which it’s being viewed.

Put that dollar back in your pocket though, because understanding responsive design is simple.

Responsive Design Gets the Bleep Out of the Way

The key to understanding responsive design is realizing that the user visiting your website should never, ever, ever have to think about how your website performs. They shouldn’t have to magnify it like we did earlier. They shouldn’t have to pinch to zoom. They shouldn’t even have to double-tap.

And please, please don’t make us squint.

Design is your problem, and should never be the visitor’s problem. They already have a problem and they came to your site to solve it. Whether it’s a product, an answer or something else, help them solve that problem. Don’t add another one with a rigid outdated design.

Do the work up front to make sure your site respects any screen size, any display resolution, any browser and any operating system. That sounds daunting. And it should be, because it requires hard work. But the cost, effort and time spent making your site responsive will pay for itself over and over again. The key is to allow your customers to do what they came to do without worrying about things like…responsive design.

How to Create a Pinteresting Web Design

By Jessica Ann
March 31, 2014

A Pinteresting web design may just involve the site Pinterest, which drove more traffic to publishers last September than Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit combined according to Mashable. It’s a staple in today’s visual online worlds. And because it links all shared images back to the source page, it’s a beautiful way to exponentially increase your site’s reach and build awareness for your brand.

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Here are some ways to best incorporate Pinterest into a memorable web design:

Prep Your Site for Pinterest

The first step to getting more traffic to your site from Pinterest is to make your content the centerpiece of your design. And while it’s okay to share your own stuff on some of your boards, you also have to make it easy for your visitors to post what they find on your site to their own Pinterest accounts.

Luckily, the folks at Pinterest have made this easy. Head over to their ‘Pin It’ button page to choose from a variety of code snippets and customizations that will make any image on your site Pinterest-ready with a quick copy/paste. Visitors who mouse over an image in your posts will see the ‘Pin It’ button, which will open a window letting them choose a board and edit the description before posting the image to their Pinterest account.

High-Quality Images Only

Make sure you’re only using high-resolution images. You’ll want to find the right images for your website and only Pin images that are breathtakingly beautiful or represent your brand. If you can’t capture beautiful images yourself (which is a difficult task for many), consider using stock images.

Take some well-lit photos with an iPhone or a professional camera. If you have some money to invest, consider hiring a photographer. Remember, people rush to be the first to share beautiful imagery on their Pinterest boards. Awe-inducing photos inspire sharing.

Market Your Work on Pinterest

Don’t expect to sit back and watch the pins and repins start flowing in. You’ll need to establish your own direct presence on Pinterest. Make boards for all of your products and services. Come up with unique names for your boards. And remember to pin the images from your articles to showcase your work.

If you’re a content publisher, conceptualize and create your own boards. Use the wonderful images and the Pin It button to share your articles to a board of your own, named after your brand itself or the underlying themes of how you work.

Pinterest as Layout Inspiration

Pinterest is a phenomenal tool if you use it right. But it’s also a web design accomplishment in itself. If you rely on great images to make your website really pop, consider a layout similar to Pinterest. Several columns of bold imagery maximize the content displayed on your home page. Pinterest-like WordPress themes can inspire a Pinterest style website.

Whether you make it easy for visitors to share your content on Pinterest, or you decide to take inspiration from the Pinterest layout style, it’s a fun and beautiful way to inspire ideas for your web design.

Top Tips for Strategic Web Design

By Jessica Ann
March 28, 2014

Strategic web design is not about just about pixels. It’s about policies, priorities and people, according to Smashing Magazine. And one of the many traits of good web design is about diving deep into strategy. When you know exactly where you need to go, you can map your route, look at your resources, and decide who is running the show. Otherwise, you’re road tripping it to nowhere, which sounds like fun until you’re completely lost in the woods – with scenes from Deliverance running through your mind.

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Where to start?

Don’t start in the woods.

You’ll need a big picture view about your goals and roles. A well thought-out set of rules, with checklists will help to keep things simple. A design strategy document is a great way to get this information out of your head and into a form you can share with your supervisor, team or contractors. The best design happens when expectations are set clearly and early, and everyone can focus on what they do best.

A great design strategy document doesn’t just fall out of the sky. If it did, you wouldn’t see so many epic designs fail across the web. Consider a few simple ideas to put your strategy in place. Doing so will prevent you from making fellow webmasters and designers wince in pain. Hint: No Comic Sans, not even to be funny. Especially not to be funny.

Look into project management software tools like Basecamp and Asana to bring your design to life. A good strategy document doesn’t require blood, sweat and tears.

It Requires Swapping Your Tears for Cheers

First, there’s no crying in web design.

Second, figure out the purpose of your design – whether it’s one project or your company’s big plans for the year. Why are you building this site? And why are you restricting yourself to only a certain type of client? Distilling this purpose from your current projects will help set the tone for pixel-perfect work.

Third, target your audience through web design and always keep them in mind. It’s easy to fall into the trap of designing to delight other designers. But some of the most fancy chairs (that are usually the most impressive to fellow furniture makers) are highly uncomfortable. Game of Thrones fans will note how amazing the Iron Throne is from an aesthetic perspective, but that thing is a stab wound waiting to happen. Figure out who is using your end product, and design it based on delighting them with: beauty, usability, and functionality. Your design strategy needs to be thorough so make sure everyone is on the same page.

Fourth, explain branding requirements to ensure consistency of your messaging across your entire site – and across all of your projects. Basing design decision on the goals you set out in the strategy document will also foster that consistency.

Finally, measure and track your efforts. Find out what matters to your company the most, and note where you can improve. Knowing how a design performs will help to enhance your strategy, and motivate you to succeed.

And when issues do arise (as they often do), just be grateful that you’re not lost in a scene from Deliverance. This alone will minimize personal conflict and keep the focus on doing web design that brings cheers, minus the tears. And then maybe, if you’re lucky you can celebrate with beers (just look out for the deer).