Prototype Your Web Design

Prototype Your Website

Want to know where you’re probably wasting the most money, and – more importantly – what you can do about it?

No significant product, whether it’s a car, a perfume, or a child’s toy, makes it to market without first being prototyped and tested.

The reason we do this is to figure out whether something is going to work – functionally and commercially – before investing a lot of money finalising its development and launching it.

Yet most websites are still launched blind.

Most websites go live with a complete, polished design, based on a combination of the designer’s and the client’s personal taste and their best guess of what will work.

This is the way it’s always been done, and it’s extremely wasteful.

We need a new approach to web design, where we actually test whether a site or page will “work” before spending thousands on fancy design.

Here’s the general approach:

  • Guess what the market wants. This involves thinking about problems or opportunities your website can solve, and crafting appropriate propositions.
  • Create a “lo-fi” website or landing pages. Invest in content, not design. Use a conventional design theme that follows standard practice.
  • Drive traffic to these prototype pages using AdWords.
  • Test the various appeals, from AdWords and Analytics data. What appeals make more people click? What pages do they stay to read? What content persuades them to click through?
  • Keep going. Retire appeals that don’t work. Try to come up with better messages, and test using the lo-fi approach.
  • When you are confident you have a good appeal, start to refine your messaging and calls to action using split-testing.
  • Finally, apply graphic design in multiple rounds, but split-test each change to make sure your design actually improves conversion.

Using this approach, you’ll spend more time crafting content and less time crafting graphics, until you know your “prototype” content works.

You’ll invest in buying traffic, which gives you vital market research intelligence based on the way people actually behave. This could be the best money you ever spend on your website.

Because you’re working with quick prototype pages, you can test different words and pictures easily, without having to spend time unpicking complex page designs.

You can be confident that if a page works with a rough design, it won’t perform any worse as you refine the design. You only need to keep design changes that work.

Our design team is developing this process with a handful of clients (including Spanish for Preschoolers). Contact me at benhunt.net if you would like us to help you with your website prototyping.

About the author

Ben Hunt

Ben has over 20 years' experience in web design and marketing, and is one of the most influential figures on the subject of effective web design. He has written a bunch of books and spoken at multiple conferences internationally. In 2015, Ben created Open-Source Marketing, which promises to turn the practice of marketing upside down.. Find out more at http://opensourcemarketingproject.org

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