If you’re a client, this is a tough pill to swallow. The reality is, however, that the most important thing about your website (or any piece of work for that matter) is your user aka potential customer.

Early in my college career at UCF (Go Knights!), I took a class called User Centered Design. I’ll admit it wasn’t my favorite class, but some of the concepts I learned there have stuck with me to this day. We studied the importance of knowing your target audience. This determines how you write your copy, what pages in your site are most important, and what overall feel the site will have.

Over the past month, we’ve started working on redesigning an Orlando website for a non-profit organization here in Central Florida called IDignity. The current site was created a few years ago and needed some work. Because the organization is not-for-profit, we took the opportunity to give back and offered to do the site pro bono.

The first glaring problem we noticed was the complexity of the navigation [on right]. When we went over the site architecture, we had a difficult time figuring out how to group the pages into sections. All of the pages in the site were in the top level of navigation, meaning there were no drop-downs involved or sections to the site. This needed to be fixed. Users can easily be overwhelmed by too many choices and having five clearly defined sections makes more sense than 15 floating pages.

What’s an Orlando Web Designer To Do?

So we did what any good design/development company should do at the beginning of any new website: be a user and decide what site architecture makes the most sense from that standpoint. We quickly cut 15 individual pages into five clear site sections. Though a few sections still contain only one page, the sections that house multiple pages have sub-navigation for simplicity.

This navigation philosophy is similar to your refrigerator (hear me out on this one). When you stock your fridge, you don’t just throw everything in wherever it fits. Ok sometimes, but you generally put the fruit in a drawer, vegetables in another, drinks on a shelf (or in the door) and leftovers everywhere else. Basically, if you want an apple, you don’t want to sift through the whole fridge, just the fruit drawer. Why should site architecture be different? That kind of organization just makes sense!

The new IDignity site will launch within the next week, but until then, people will have to find their eggs in the back of the freezer….

UPDATE: The site launched on Friday and, depending on DNS propagating, will be available to view this weekend.

What approach do you take with your site? Do you like to see all your pages at once? Is that what’s easiest for a prospective customer?

Like us to help answer some of these questions about your own website? We’d love to sit down and give you an honest analysis of your existing website!

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