When we create websites, we strive to make them more than just an attractive place to read content. We tackle every stage, including design, with the user in mind. Why? Because this is what grows brands. Recently, we redesigned the outdoor education program website, Outward Bound. One of the goals for this website is to encourage the user to sign up for an outdoor education course. Here are a few things we learned as we worked toward that goal:

Research every angle
Sure, we reference design community websites and look at various trends that relate to our particular client, but we also put to use our own internal research. We dig deep into getting to know our clients and their needs. For Outward Bound, our technical director worked with the client to do a complete audit of the previous website, seeking to understand what worked and what didn’t work. Our designer and UX architect developed the initial wireframes for the site. We received valuable feedback from the client to revise these early stages to ensure the rest of the process went smoothly.

Test, test and test again
We value a team approach. This often means multiple eyes on the same project—from every member of the DS team taking a look at the initial wireframes and preliminary designs to collaborating with outside experts. In the case of Outward Bound, we worked with a UX specialist to test users on different sections of the website. Some A/B testing  was used to compare versions of the website to determine which ones performed better. We reviewed videos and screenshots of participants using the website, which helped guide us to a smarter design.

Expect changes
Even the smartest designs aren’t perfect. The research and testing phases allowed us to think more holistically about the website. Sometimes that brings up more questions than answers. To answer the remaining questions, we needed to develop design iterations so we could consider all the possible options. And, since we do value a team approach, many eyes reviewed those design iterations to help us make the best choice.

Make it easy
What we learned in these beginning stages helped us develop the final design. To guide users to the end goal (in this case, course registration), we employed simple but incredibly useful tools to make getting there quicker and less complicated. Photos give users a quick look at the story of Outward Bound without requiring them to read. Clearly defined buttons and big calls-to-action help convert a user to an Outward Bound customer.

Our work with Outward Bound will guide how we approach future clients. Even if you aren’t designing a website, keeping the experience of your customer in mind is an essential part of any successful business.