Institutional website design is a specialty all on its own. Small businesses have a variety of options to choose from, when they decide to go online. There are hundreds of creative firms, template services, and freelancers available. They all do great work and can make a solid layout for a business at the beginning of their online journey. But, consider institutions like universities, governments, and major corporations. When it comes to updating the websites of these beasts, you’ll need to do a lot more work. Every detail matters.
At Atlantic BT, we’ve been working on large-scale web development projects for 20 years now. We’ve learned a lot along the way and we know how to best make these web projects successful. The foundation of our role is the website itself. We create sites that work for a wide range of customers, users, and decision-makers. But, another facet of our job is to ensure that our clients stay focused on what matters.
That can sometimes be a challenge. Why? Let’s look at a few things executives tend to forget about institutional website design.
Functionality is Just as Important as Aesthetics
As humans, we naturally gravitate towards the visual. We rely on our sight to identify threats and opportunities on a subconscious level. We can process pictures thousands of times faster than text or words. Psychologists have even shown that what we see impacts us in a more emotional way, than what we read.
Knowing that, can we blame anyone for placing their priorities on aesthetics? It isn’t hard to understand why executives tend to focus more on the visual aspects of web design. The look is important. Striking an emotional chord with an audience has immense value. But you don’t want to be all surface and no substance. Consider the ultimate goal. You are building a tool to be of service to large groups of people inside and outside of an organization. Of course, this means that website functionality is also as important as aesthetics. Programming and plug-ins provide the body your site actually lives within. So, you need it to be strong, healthy, and smart. A beautiful website that doesn’t work, is of no help to anyone.
Online Marketing Makes or Breaks the Project
Alas, despite how functional and breathtaking your website is, none of it matters if it’s never seen or used. The only way to ensure that such a tragedy does not take place, is to market the website effectively. You need to promote it in order to attract customers and users. There are plenty of tools at your disposal. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, these guys run the world now. They are yours to use. You need their users, and even the media, to take notice and spread the word about your new content and upgrades.
For that reason, institutional website design is only the first step. Often, it’s online marketing that will make or break your project on the balance sheet. This is through search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and social visibility. These are, of course, only some of the tools at the disposal of a good digital marketing team. Be sure to prioritize your marketing strategy. Then pay special attention to what happens to your website post launch. Consider these observations when evaluating proposals from creative teams.
You Can’t Neglect Your Website After Launch
The marketing and promotional aspects of launching an institutional website are important. It brings you the audience you need. But, once that audience arrives, they will have expectations that you should be ready for. Your users will assume that the website will always be functioning well, and staying up to date. So, ongoing maintenance, updates, and content additions are crucial. Otherwise, the big investment you make in an upgraded web presence can become a sunk cost.
Remember that large websites are never finished. You can launch them, but they’re going to need work to stay fast, stable, and secure. You will get plenty of value from your web presence as you continue to promote and pay attention to it. But, you’ll be less likely to find yourself asking for proposals for yet another fresh design, as time goes on.
Learn More About Institutional Web Design
It doesn’t matter what stage of the website design process you might find yourself in. If you are beginning to think about a large web development project, or you’re now collecting RFPs, we’re ready to jump in at any time. The creative team at Atlantic BT in North Carolina can help you get the answers you need. Schedule a free consultation. You’ll be able to see how we can help make the web design and development process easier.