Stage 1 - Style over substance
Stage 2 - Designing for online visibility
In Stage 2, the reality of an ineffective web design begins to hit, usually around 3-6 months after the initial launch. A site will typically get rejected by many of the major directories, not be indexed by the major search engines, or not get the traffic or sales that were projected based on the various types of marketing strategies used. Typically, that's when companies decide that they will try to hire a professional online marketer to promote the site. Doorway page companies, in some way, shape or form, rear their ugly heads. Unfortunately, many web site owners fall for a doorway page company's pitch because the beautifully designed site couldn't possibly be the problem with low site traffic. Yahoo might have rejected a site, or the site might have been listed in Yahoo and the company cannot understand why they have no description next to their company name. But in no way would many ad agencies or doorway page companies want to tell potential clients the truth -- they simply did not design and write an effective web site -- because it would mean losing thousands of pounds in business
Stage 3 - Designing for your audience
By Stage 3, after spending an exorbitant amount of money on pretty web site designs and various marketing strategies, web site owners generally figure out that they did not design or write an effective Web site for their target audience. Typically, web site owners will bring in a usability expert to analyze potential problems and present various solutions. Bringing in a search engine marketing expert to help with search-engine friendly web designs &templates early in the design phase can save a company thousands of pounds in online marketing costs.
Stage 4 - Site redesign
After careful usability and search engine visibility analyses, web site owners finally have an effective web site. A site that is written, coded and designed for user friendliness and search engine visibility generally gets the most traffic and resulting sales because it was written, programmed, and designed for end users.
Web sites should always be designed with your target audience in mind, not your own personal preferences. Colours have meaning. Professional designers understand the psychology of colour and the use of white space to best project the image your audience wishes to see. (For example, try not to use the colour red on a financial site.) Understanding the products/services/information your target audience is searching for is paramount to designing and maintaining an effective web site. When you launch a site, you might have to make an educated guess as to what your target audience wants. After that, tools such as site statistics software and reporting from site searches tell you exactly what your visitors are looking for. Then content and marketing strategies can be adjusted accordingly. Unless the advanced technology clearly benefits end users, do not use it on your site. If your venture capitalists or CEO's or lawyers like the site, ask if they are going to spend the thousands or millions of pounds to keep you in business.
They're not. Your target audience who will ultimately determine the success or failure of your site.