We occasionally get requests from Members or their representatives to implement a particular design for their microsite based on mockups they’ve developed. Because of the products we offer, in particular the Flexible Homepage Template and Static Pages, it has not been a problem matching the site to the supplied mockup. However, some site designs we’ve been asked to implement are more flexible and present information more clearly than others, so I thought it may be helpful to offer a few suggestions to consider before embarking on a website design.

Some things to keep in mind when designing for a website:

Develop the content first. This is very important. Design depends on what you want to say; the layout of the site should be determined by the content and its hierarchies. This can be defined with simple bulleted lists. It will also save time and frustration in the long run for all parties involved, since revisions will be kept to a minimum. Here is a helpful list of questions to ask yourself when developing content:

– Who is the target audience?
– Who are you trying to recruit at this time?
– What information do you want to convey?
– How do you want the information organized?
– How will it align with other sites you control?
– How will it promote your brand or does it need to be something completely different and separate from the company’s brand?

Keep it simple and clean. Mobile has influenced website design in a lot of ways. One of those has been a tendency to eliminate unnecessary design elements, which serves to highlight and present the information clearly and concisely. In a previous post Microsite Design Guidelines – Understanding End User Behavior, I talked about the importance of focusing on a clear message and how one image to illustrate it may be better than an abundance of images. Keep this in mind for all the content being developed.

Websites are not PowerPoint presentations. You won’t be able to control what users see and where they go. If you expect people to navigate through the site in a particular order, it is not going to happen. Information and buttons should be apparent and readily available to the site’s visitors. They probably will not click through all the images in a carousel or sit through an animation to understand a message. Like articles in a newspaper, say the most important stuff upfront and keep the supporting information engaging so they will want to continue reading. Since our product works on tablets and mobile devices as well, having the most important information up front will also facilitate the browsing habits of people who use those devices where information is often scanned fairly quickly.

People know how to scroll. You are not designing a page in a brochure or some other printed piece that has a fixed size. If your design has a set height you are limiting your options when it comes time to update the content. Adding additional paragraphs to a blurb will make your page taller, and if you have tried to position text to align with background images or other page elements they will no longer align. Web pages are not static and not all computers are the same, so your design should be flexible enough to account for different screen resolutions and allow for new content when it is time to update the site.

Hopefully this presents some information that will allow you to begin asking questions and thinking about how to make your site useful and engaging.

DirectEmployers knowledge is always Member knowledge, so if you have any questions related to how your corporate career site is set-up and would like for us to take a look at its design, let us know.

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Staff photo of Jim BrownPosted by Jim Brown, Digital Strategy Director of Services for DirectEmployers Association.

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