Tips and Tutorials

Beautiful Design Is Not Everything

Syamsul Rozmey
November 16, 2020

Radial Path Pros - Expert insights from our master marketers

To kick off our mini-series of expert insights, it’s how to create an award winning website with head of Digital & Design, Syamsul Rozmey. We’re lucky enough to have our own in-house designer who can do everything from code to colour schemes - but not all businesses are. Which is why, on the back of creating the brand-spanking new Radial Path website, we asked Sam to share his wisdom with the world. He tells us the main things to consider when creating a new site, challenges he’s faced, and some hacks and hints to showcase your brand and convert visitors. Over to Sam…

Beautiful design is not everything.

As Radial Path’s Head of Design, this might not be what you’d expect me to open with. But launching our shiny, new website has made me reflective. There’s a lot to consider behind the scenes.

Says who?

I’m Syamsul, or Sam to our team. My experience ranges from Graphic Design, to Network Engineering to Web Conversion, I love this stuff. It’s fun, fascinating and developing my skills has become something of a hobby. I joined Radial Path in June 2018, now lead the Design team, and our wonderfully diverse Tech and Telco audience have really tested my knowledge - the perfect fit.

How to know when you need  a new site

Our old site was built with WordPress. Now, this is entirely personal, but I’m not the biggest fan. A website should be built using a platform that future-proofs your investment, and the testing, repairing and management of updates can be a lot of work. We also had issues with user experience, images were not compressed properly making our site slow to load, there were no SEO considerations, the design was pretty average, and our conversion rate wasn’t great. Your website is your business's chance at a good first impression, so it’s all about being honest with yourself - know when it’s time to change.

I need something like this!

That’s the first impression we wanted to give. We wanted our visitors to bookmark our new site; to share it; to be inspired by it. 

We are immensely proud of our new site. Our design is creative and reflects our personality, while leveraging leading industry trends such as 3D animation. Navigating the site is straightforward, pages are clearly signposted. The user journey has been carefully planned, meaning that prospects will understand who we are, what services we provide and how we work before we’ve even exchanged emails. 

It’s got a lot of style, but definitely does not skimp on substance.

Where to start

I designed the site using Webflow. I had never heard of it before so I created a free account, had a look around and experimented with what it could do. Webflow used a basic HTML CSS which is a good, standard web development language, perfect for our needs. I pitched it to Ruth, she agreed, and so it began...

There’s 5 steps you should follow when starting a site from scratch. Discovery first - revisit your brand’s core message so you can reflect it through design. Colours, font, imagery - consider what you want your visitors to take away from the experience. After discovery, the focus should be on content and SEO. Do an audit on any existing content to make sure it fits your brand guidelines and sounds punchy. There’s loads of free tools out there to help shape your content strategy so it’s hyper-targeted to your audience. Same with SEO, put in the effort and research how to boost your site’s ranking, you’ll reap the rewards.

Then wireframing, how to display the content and copy, where you want the imagery, the bones of your website. Next is design, which should involve research into the trends in the industry, for example 3D design. Once this is pitched and agreed, we need to make sure the right team members are involved (in this case the chosen person for our animation.) Our 3D animator, based in Venezuela, is an absolute genius. Once briefed the characters took around 10 weeks to develop- including feedback and edits. This was a huge job so we’re pretty happy with the timeline. Once we had the assets, it was time for the site to be built in Webflow. After some quick final checks from the team, we tested the site and then launched! 

Challenges when planning a project like this

The biggest challenge is making sure you have the right tools for the job and know how to stitch them together. It’s easy to get bogged down in all the software that comes with web development, so keep checking in to make sure everything you’re using is working effectively. Also remember to consider UX at every single stage of the process. Don’t get to the end of a project and find your website is impossible to navigate or you’ll be right back to square one.

Do the legwork

Strategy is a necessary evil in web development. It’s not the most fun job, but neglecting it and moving straight to open canvas will lead to ill-thought out websites. You need to consider SEO and intelligent copywriting - does your design visually connect and relay the right message? How do you want your audience to navigate, interact? It’s all well and good having a stunning site, but if it fails to convert leads and makes for a poor user experience it’s ultimately failed in its purpose.

How to stay relevant

I think our website will last for three to five years before it needs updating again, which is great. We decided to get 3D designs drawn for this reason, research told us it’s an up and coming trend. So if we got them done quickly we could ride the wave and increase the longevity of our site. Trends move so quickly, MySpace used to be cool! And now it's not - then it was Facebook, or Twitter, you’ve got to constantly be looking for the “cool new thing”, or you’ll find yourself looking outdated and obsolete pretty quickly. You want to stand out from the crowd and shout “look at me!”. So as soon our website starts looking dated again I’ll be back to the drawing board.

How long our website took

For the lead time, this depends on the additional elements such as image assets and 3D designs. But WebFlow has seriously cut down the time for projects like this. There is no barrier for developers and designers to communicate. Something like ours, with all assets delivered and ready to use, would be 8 to 12 weeks for example. We’d price this as between 20-30K (which I’ll be demanding as a Christmas bonus, of course...).

The best bits!

My favourite thing would be our new colour palette, it’s great to break away from the boring “telco blue” which is so prevalent in the industry. Obviously our 3D characters too, and our solutions page with Alan and Frankie! Honestly there are so many easter eggs, I had loads of fun putting them in.

Desert island tools

I love Figma. I use it for my initial design planning for every project. While there are other tools that allow the same functionality, such as Sketch, the ease of collaboration sets Figma apart. 

If I could pick only two tools for a project, it would be Figma and Webflow. But it’s a close call as Blender is great for 3d character building, G Suite is perfect for collaborating with our copywriter, and Hotjar is so useful for tracking how users interact with sites.

My biggest tip would be to explore all of these tools and see what you prefer. In this industry, the tools available are always changing or updating, so it's important to keep up. Which I do, mostly for fun! 

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