6 Secrets of Great Web Design as Told by Fortune Cookies

By: Peter Wolfgram

Something happens whenever Roundpeg updates its web design. We brainstorm, sometimes brain-hurricane. Things get messy. And then we order Chinese food. A good meal clears everyone’s head and we end up laughing about the fortunes in our fortune cookies.

Thing is, sometimes fortunes have a kernel of truth. Once, I even planned a whole web design project with fortune cookies. With a little meditation, anyone can find something true and useful in these sayings.

Below, you’ll find the the actual fortunes we shared around the table that day, delivered to us by the universe in its infinite wisdom and expanded with my own commentary. Please pardon the food stains.

Now look deeply into Lucky Cat’s eyes and get a taste of ancient Chinese web design wisdom!

Make a Web Design Wish List

If you’re reading this, you’re thinking about a new web design. Heck, if you’re breathing I bet you’ve thought about putting up a spiffy website at one point or another. How do you get there from here?

Do one thing for me. Make a wish list. Get an old-fashioned pencil and some paper, or a napkin off the bar if that’s your zone. Simply write a list of the things you want in a web design. If you need a little help, here’s mine from a while back.

Another way to approach the web design wish list is to list all the problems or pain points you have with your current website, all the things that need to get fixed.

Make a first draft of your list, sleep on it, take a look the next day and add or subtract items. Talk to a marketing pro if you need a second pair of eyes.

Appoint a Project Point Person

Next up, pick a friend to lead the project. Or pick yourself. Either way, your web design project needs a point person. Someone to work directly with the web designer or project manager doing the website.

Most website projects have multiple stakeholders. That is, people who care about the outcome of the web design project. Honestly, keep most of these folks off the conference call. Otherwise, you might end up with a camel instead of a horse.

When you have a project leader, that person can champion the project, gather feedback from the other stakeholders and devote specific hours to providing the resources and feedback required by the web designer.

You can be your own mast on this grand ship of web design. Or you can be the captain and steer. But you’ll still need a mast to hold up the sails and keep the project moving.

Carefully Define the Scope of the Web Design

Let me tell you a story. Remember ol’ Jack Burton? It was 1986 and he was goin’ down to San Francisco on a regular job. Maybe meet up with his old friend Wang and share a drink or two.

Then Wang’s fiance from China is kidnapped at the airport, there’s a big street fight with a bunch of gangs, these immortal Lords of Death show up and before you know it Jack and Wang are in the hell of upside-down sinners. Rough day.

Don’t let your little web design project turn into big trouble. Learn how to work with your web designer to define exactly which features and web design elements are included in the project’s price. Make an agreement in writing that anything extra is, well, extra. Sign it in blood or ink, your choice.

That way, your web designer has clear direction and you have clear expectations. And if something new turns up, you’ll have an agreement in place to guide you in taking care of it.

Embrace Video and Audio Content

The Internet used to be like an awkward scientist party. No music unless you count that dial-up sound, zero eye contact and incredibly long waits to hook up. Things are different now. There’s great audio and video content everywhere, making everything more fun and more interactive. Join the party and include video in your site strategy!

Work with a video producer to capture testimonials from your best customers, consider filming your own how-tos. Ask your web designer about adding subtle motion to your backgrounds. Use micro-interactions when appropriate. Those are the little color changes, rotations and other pops of motion when you hit a button. Super fun stuff that we’ll only see more of in apps and web designs.

But don’t add auto-play music or loud videos. Those are forever banished. Start paused or silent and give visitors the option to play audio.

Give Detailed Feedback

You my friend, are a creative genius. The fortune cookie says so. Here’s how it’s actually true: everyone is creative in what they’re passionate about. You might not be a master painter or web designer, you may be creative in the kitchen, creative with fancy spreadsheets or creative with your family schedule. Bring a little of that to your web design.

You do this by giving detailed, honest feedback. That means pointing out what’s wrong or out of place the moment you realize it. Creative geniuses don’t waste time correcting the flaws in their vision. So, tell me how you really feel and leave nothing out.

At the same time, please know that creation is a push-pull activity. Push your web designer, but understand they’re creative too. In fact, they’re the expert in web design. Be open to their recommendations. When you push and pull in sync, good things happen.

Don’t Forget About Website Security

Ah, the last and final fortune. Good health to you! In web design, good health starts with security. You don’t want to get hacked, vandalized or taken over. It’s disruptive and lame when you have to deal with a broken website.

Harden your website’s security by using strong passwords for everything. All the user accounts, all the hosting and domain name service accounts, all the extra vendor accounts related to the site, everything. Use at least 8 characters, numbers, letters and symbols mixed up. If your password is easy to memorize then it’s probably weak.

Second, make sure your website is backed up frequently. At least weekly, more often if you blog or make updates daily. Check with your website host first to see if they already perform this service for you and could easily restore your site from a hack if necessary. If not, or if you’d like more control over your backup method, there may be additional website software you can use to manually take backups.

Third, consider a website firewall service like Sucuri. Not only will their service keep bad guys out, if the bad guys make it past the firewall, Sucuri will assist in clean up efforts. There’s so much more to say about Sucuri and website security in general. But this is all just fortune cookie, so there’s not much more space.

What do you think about these fortunes? Is a new web design in your future? Is video content right for you? Let us know your questions, and we’ll consult the cookies.

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