Everything you do, wear, drive, eat, and so forth are expressions of your character. If it is you that makes you unique, then let’s talk about the storefront that’s open 24/7 — your website — and see how it’s applicable to other designs as well.

One cannot not communicate: Every behavior is a kind of communication. Because behavior does not have a counterpart (there is no anti-behavior), it is not possible not to communicate.
— Paul Watzlawick

Since every behavior is a kind of communication, it would be sensible to first understand our target audience.

1. Project Usability

What is the goal of your viewers? What are they trying to find?

Be clear from the get-go (i.e., a banner that illustrates exactly what your website is supposed to offer).

denise chandler
Image courtesy of http://www.denisechandler.com/

Other concerns might include whether users are using mobile devices. If so, how do you serve them? Keep in mind the possibility of the fall of Flash. Also, be considerate of bandwidth issues, since 3G or 4G data speeds are not the same as broadband speeds at home.

2. Simplify

Simplicity isn’t simple. Apple does it best. Remove clutter that does not define your goal. This includes the choices for wording, color, typography, navigation, etc.

mb air

3. Prioritize Your Priorities

Part of having a responsive and simply designed website is to prioritize your priorities. You should limit your menu bar to a minimal number of buttons for navigation.

tofurious menu

Too many choices clutter and suffocate. Ever been to a restaurant with 50+ different choices? Oh, the agony of committing to one thing, thus sacrificing the rest.

shrimp cocktail

4. Synthesize a Story

Stories are powerful. Stories disarm.

Synthesize a story explaining why you do what you do and why it should matter to them. And here are some tips on creating an effective About Page.

advent calendar
I have multiple Advent Calendars because I cheat.

5. Define the Next Steps

After users are coaxed to explore your site or blog post, be sure to have clear calls to action. This tells viewers what to do next.

A lot of times, people get to the end of the blog post and won’t have anything to do next. So, the likely thing to happen is that they leave. Don’t let that happen to you.

Read the rest on Pictage’s Photo Life where I was a guest blogger: http://www.pictage.com/blog/?p=10356