When you design your website, you should have very specific goals in mind, and the way to know if those goals are being met is by applying iterative web design. Simply put, it is a process of creating a prototype of you website, testing it, evaluating the results, and then redesigning and retesting based on the earlier result. What does this mean for your design process? It means that it isn’t a one-time thing. You should never assume to get everything right on the first go.
Iterative design follows the idea that design should be done in repeated cycles. With each cycle, the design is elaborated, refined, and tested. The results of the tests done for every cycle are incorporated into the design focus of the next cycle. It is very handy in that you will be able to identify right off the bat trouble areas and problems you did not expect, so you can make the necessary adjustments before a minor problem becomes a full-on catastrophe.
They key to getting iterative design right is to set mini-goals for your site and test these as the website is designed. As you test your site, you will be able to see where things could be streamlined and modified to eliminate problems and mistakes, thus saving you a lot of time, money, and effort.
One thing you have to remember is that these iterations should be done BEFORE your site goes live. You want to give your users the best experience possible from the very first time they visit your site.
Here are some of the advantages of iterative design:
- You are able to make informed decisions backed up by evidence. Iterations allow you to test different ideas so you can obtain concrete data that allows you to plot a clear direction.
- It saves you time, energy, and money in the long run. Identifying mistakes before your site goes live can mean you have less chances of losing a sale, or having customers leave your site because they get confused with the navigation. It also helps improve relationships with your current customers who are bound to notice the little improvements here and there, and that’s how they know you are pulling out all stops to ensure that they get the best experience possible.
- It helps you and your team stay creative. A more iterative process gives you ample room for experimentation, so your team can get as creative as they can, whether in the process of coming up with a new design, or with marketing. You can try out various ideas and continue testing and refining them until you find the ones that work well with your audience. It also keeps everyone from getting bored.
- It keeps your team organized. It also makes maintaining and updating your website more manageable, because you are doing things on a smaller, more frequent scale, instead of doing everything in one sweeping go. Spreading out your team’s workload makes it a bit more predictable for them, so they know what to expect and are not overwhelmed by major changes.