It might not be the sexiest term out there, but it’s a fundamental driver at this design consultancy. When building a website, value doesn’t mean “the cheapest thing.” It means achieving balance between lowest project cost and all the other goals that are also worth pursuing: creativity, ease of use, solid and secure IT infrastructure, flexibility for future growth, and so forth. When we’re done, you should think, “This website is fantastic, and I spent my budget wisely.”
How can we build a distinctive website—without crossing a line so the design seems gratuitous or “clever” (imagine this word spoken in a dry British accent)? Maybe this is the fun part of the process for you, since it feels so much like play. Or maybe it makes you think of staring at a blank screen, anxiety building, while you wait for inspiration? Maybe the problem is too many great ideas, and you’re looking for the self-discipline to choose one brilliant approach out of many options. . .
Some call it “usability” but that strikes me as a jargony term that techies use to assert their authority. A visual language and set of conventions has evolved to make websites intuitive and easy to use. Your designer should understand them and follow them. . . most of the time. It’s also important to know when to bend the rules for your organization or project. By making it easy for your visitor to know what to do, solid website design removes obstacles to achieving whatever purpose you had in creating it.
Definitely the least sexy item on the list, but you’d be wise not to take it for granted. Over the short term, this means your site should work well, load quickly, be secure, and use a platform with a forward-thinking design and regular upgrade schedule. Thinking years ahead, what about the stability of all the hardware and software the website uses: what kind of server will work best, how can I reduce the risk of hacking, what happens when my goals change? Will the company that developed my CMS even exist in five years? In a world of continuous disruption, what’s the best way to future-proof the site we’ve worked so hard to design and maintain?