Our communication framework for web design

Meeting someone on a “good day ” leaves a very different impression than meeting someone on a “bad day.”

And I’m not talking about a bad hair day. I’m talking about your body language and how people think of you.

How you communicate (i.e. your expressions, styles, gestures, tonality, enthusiasm) impacts how people perceive you.


We want to make good impressions on others, but we know that this only occurs if our actions are aligned to do so. And so this is why we try to put our best faces when we meet people.

To bring out the “good day!”

[tweetthis]How you communicate impacts how people perceive you. [/tweetthis]

The same thinking applies to your website. Your website is a 24×7 representation of you. It’s always turned on, anyone can see it, and it can either leave a great or wrong impression of you.

Which would you prefer?

I’ve been tackling web design and communication for over 10 years. And while good design is unique to every situation, certain patterns seem to be present in every website we create.

While heading to Brussels on the train, I decided to start formulating these patterns into a design framework. There are great frameworks already available for communication design, but I wanted to create our own in our own language.

Heck, we like to design!

And so here goes…

Designing for the web

“Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as to best accomplish a particular purpose.”
– Charles Eames

I’d say that web design is the practice of placing written content and visuals in a purposeful way to help viewers retrieve information easily and help viewers take next actions with you over the web and mobile devices.

Web design has many parts to it, but the core includes:

  1. Creating content (text and visuals) that resonates with your audience.
  2. Designing the content in a purposeful way to help viewers retrieve information easily and help take next actions.
  3. Analyzing your communication to identify weak areas to ultimately improve your website platform.
  4. Repeat.

Communication design is about making sure you’re heard and understood by the right people.

I’m a fan of trying to make things simple and so I came up with the ABCs of communication design.

A for anticipative
B for beneficial
C for consistent.

I’ll explain one by one.

Anticipate – Be relevant to your audience in the blink of an eye

anticipate abc webodew

You, me, everyone is BUSY, especially in business.

Our inboxed are flooded. We skip commercial. Ignore phone calls. Grim at unnecessary meetings…the list goes on and on.

Life is in the fast lane and it’s a struggle to keep up with everything.

And so how can we design communication to help our messages stand a chance of being viewed?

Let’s start by being anticipative.

People spend at most 5 seconds on new web sites or web page to determine if they should continue reading or simply leave. And if they can’t determine because the content is confusing, they’ll probably leave and never come back.

And so as we design our website, we try to imagine what the viewer must see within those first 5 seconds to signal that he or she is in the right place. Immediately, we need to inform the user that the page contains information about the subject of matter by using proper text and visuals

Anticipate what the viewer must see in order to feel like he or she is in the right location

Benefit – Go beyond the noise by communicating on value

benefit abc webodew

To win someone’s time, you must earn it.

That’s why we get so angry at random sales people that try to sell us things. They haven’t earned our trust yet.It’s annoying when strangers try to sell us things we don’t need. But what about when they mention a solution a problem or something we genuinely care about?

But what happens when a random sales person talks deeply and convincingly about one of your problem areas or an area you truly care about?

You start to listen.

This is because there is a sense of receiving a benefit.

When you design to be “beneficial”, the viewer gets a feeling that their problems or questions will be answered if they keep reading.

When you explain solutions to problem areas or overcoming challenges your audiences care about, this will drive more website engagement and also help your rise above your competitors.

Demonstrating greater benefits will help you have greater impacts with your website.

Being beneficial is the motivator to keep coming back as well as being discussed through word of mouth.

Consistent – Stay top-of-mind on communication channels

consistent abc webodew

What do you picture when you hear communication + McDonald’s, Nike, Apple.

Do you imagine a logo? A product? An emotion?

When I think of McDonald’s, I think of Big Macs, fries and smiles without hesitation.

This is the power of consistency. Repeat something over and over with continually improves and it becomes memorable. In design, this is why we do things like:

  • Create a style guide
  • Use consistent colors and typography across all marketing tools
  • Keep your mission flowing in everything you do.

McDonald’s has kept their advertisements, products, and customer experience extremely consistent over the decades. Over time, they adapt their messaging to be heard on newer communication channels, but their message remains the same.

ABCs are only the beginning

Hope this was insightful.

The goal of creating a framework is to highlight our design focus that we carry throughout every project. Design comes in shapes and sizes, but we wanted to highlight areas that are important to us and our clients.

Thanks for reading and as always, wish you a great week!