Sep
26
2010

5 Point Web-Design Treasure Map for Startups

5 point web design treasure map for startups

Web-startups are here and more are coming. And these number of options are increasing, your packaging (in this case your website) becomes really important. It is sad to see web-startups ignoring their websites and trying to do-away with free themes and such.

It’s like a shop-keeper not bothering about cleaning, organizing or even making a shop. This is not just for web-startups, any startup with a website must pay attention. If your website sucks, you suck too.

I know money is hard for startup but it’s worth investing in a remarkable website. And websites are as good as they are usable – beauty has no place. Here are some things to keep in mind when designing your website (especially home-page):

What You Are About Should be Obvious

When a potential customer reaches your home page, the first thing he should learn is what you are about. Make it clear – use clever copy, images, or video.

However, avoid using carousel or slider – different audience have different attention span and you can’t get the speed of changing pictures right until you really know your user. And for startups, that’s what you are figuring out.

Use combination of both pictures and words or even flowcharts. Here are some examples:

Teux Deux - the to-do app

Teux Deux uses big text and video to tell you what they are about and what you can do on their site.

Twitter Home Page

Twitter's home page follows "Show & Tell" rule. It shows you what it is about.

Box.net - Secure File Sharing

Yea, you got it right. Secure File Sharing!

Answer: What can I do here

It’s very much related to above point. In fact they should be put out together “What you are about and what user can do on your website” But for web-applications (that’s what most of the start-ups are about) this is crucial.

Yes you love videos / cartoons / entrepreneurs but what can I do on your website?

If this question is not answered within 2 seconds – I will leave! You don’t ever go on Google.com and wonder what you can do there – and no doubt they are ruling!

Some examples:

Google - What can you do here?

What can you do here? It's foolproof!

RadBox

Bookmark your videos to watch later.

Basecamp

You can even use images to communicate better.

Your USP

Your USP, Unique Selling Preposition or your Purple Cow is what differentiates you from rest of your competitor. Why should they come to you and not go to your completion? More than often it tells your user that ‘Why someone is not your competitor’.

Though this really must come out in UX (User Experience), but integrating it in your design is very important. What makes twitter different form facebook? Their design and user experience and they are not competitors because they are not designed for same thing.

A new visitor might mistake you for just another project management tool but if you can tell them why you are not – or what’s special about you i.e your USP. You’ve nailed it.

Twitter v/s Facebook

Twitter & Facebook - Worlds Apart

If I were to visit them both for first time, they will make it clear why they are different!

Clear Call to Action

Without this all that you we discussed will go in vain. So you told your user what you are about, what they can do on your website and even convinced them why they should choose you; and not your user is excited! But you failed to make it clear what they should do to get started.

You lost.

In fact, if you have a very high bounce rate from your home-page – make your call-to-action clearer, bigger and louder.

Usually it’s a sign-up button. Have you made it big enough? When you think it’s too big and not fitting well – that’s when it’s just right.

Some websites with clear call to action

posterous

That's how you get started with Posterous!

hunch

Guess what will you do on this page?

Reduce Noise

Now this one is though – you will need to let go of a lot of things that you really wanted to have on your home page.

Remove everything else because it’s just plain noise. Yes chuck out that that recent tweets and latest blog posts area. You don’t need those, they are leaking your users away.

Noise just doesn’t come from text but can come from visual- elements too. You can reduce hell lot of icons, gradients and colors. Keep it bare minimum. When you feel something is missing and there is a lot of white space – you might have gotten it right.

Some examples:

Dropboz

That's neat!

Conclusion

Every page of website must be created with an intend. It must help you got solve a problem. All else is just junk. Can you think of some mistakes in web-designs that startups make? How can they convince you to use their feature? What all should be displayed?

  • http://www.wildphoenix.in Phoenix

    That’s a cool post. Very informative. Keep it up. :)

  • Aditya

    Thanks for mentioning Radbox! This is actually the second avatar of our site, the first one was quite plain. It is really tough to get a pleasing design in the first go, but one needs to launch and iterate, than get stuck.

    Really good points on the design – specially like the emphasis on reducing noise; I’m a big fan of minimalism. :)

  • http://manavdhiman.wordpress.com Manav Dhiman

    I always love minimalism, and reducing the noise in web design just makes sense.

    Like you see the portfolios of various web and graphic designers, and you get the idea of how the trick works. Minimalism is modern, and people love it.

    The basic art is to say what you are or what you want the user to do with what you’ve made, in less words. If you did that, then way to go!

    Nice post there! :)

  • Arun Srinivasan

    Well thought out post. Please keep them coming. I am very much interested in web-startup scene, the budding one in India, we need good designers. I have read some more posts about the design of the page, but not much about the choice of fonts or even the size and placement of text. Would be interested to get to know more about that aspect of design.

  • http://twitter.com/mbansal14 Mohit Bansal

    Simple and to the point. Love it.

  • http://ph.linkedin.com/in/philwebservices philwebservices

    Great stuff! It’s very interesting and I’m planning to design my own website and I this is really helpful. Thanks a lot! :D

  • Vaibhav Kanwal

    That’s a very interesting and informative post on good web layout / design practice. :)

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