A Brief Look at the Science of Web Design & Development
What is the science behind launching a successful website? Our marketing director, Hailey Whisler, was asked to write an article for the UCLA TDG Technology Biannual Magazine, a client of ours. We explain how strategy, research, and ingenuity played an integral role in developing the new UCLA TDG website.
Great websites are built with purpose. Before the design or development begins, ask some critical questions:
- Why do I want this website?
- What problems does it need to solve?
- Who does it need to serve?
The UCLA TDG website began with a creative brief, which asked the project team to brainstorm as well as clarify project objectives. The team defined three main goals:
- Help users quickly find relevant information about technology
- Drive engagement with key audience groups
- Provide guidance to internal users
This initial “discovery” phase gives the web team valuable insight to guide the project in the right direction. Websites can be more than a virtual space to display information; if built strategically, websites can help solve business problems.
Research & Testing
The best websites are supported with validation — researching and testing with real users. For the UCLA TDG website, we conducted exercises with the internal team and actual users to understand the effectiveness of the site structure and design. UCLA TDG participated in multiple studies, such as:
- Reverse Card Sorting: Users were given a sitemap, and a specific task. The user then selects a page in the sitemap structure where they would expect to complete the task. This test shows if the page titles and hierarchy are clear to real users.
- Click Testing: Users were given a screen shot of the new website, as well as a particular task. Their responses–where they would click to complete the task–created heat maps. A click test reveals if other elements on the screen distract users from finding the right information.
We use these tools to refine websites, resolve issues, and strengthen the user experience.
Creativity is the core difference between building a good website and crafting a great web experience that solves real business needs. Redesigning the UCLA TDG website was first, and foremost, a creative endeavor. We needed to create a web presence that reflected TDG’s innovative, research-based personality within the larger UCLA brand.
Our team took an artistic approach to help TDG reimagine what their website could be: a valuable resource to help entrepreneurs, faculty, and the public accomplish great things. We think that’s worth putting in the extra effort. In short, Gravity Works believes businesses shouldn’t settle for templates or out-of-the-box software. Work with a team of experts that will do the job right.
Update: The UCLA TDG website won a Silver W3 Award for its homepage design. The W3 Awards celebrates exceptional digital work that’s produced by creative agencies of all sizes.