1. Define the purpose of your site
For most organisations (including businesses), a website is there to engage, inform and educate visitors with the purpose of converting those visitors into leads and leads into customers.
In some cases, a visitor will be there to purchase a product or a service, while others will engage with the business, eventually buying a product or service offline.
The website often is used as an entry point to your support portal for documentation, profile information, payments and business services.
Location, pricing and contact information are all important too, saving your staff time, reducing frustration and keeping your customers happy.
Defining these early, then prioritizing them, makes the design and development stages clear and unambiguous for the project team. For example:
- Returning visitors will be looking to get to the info they are after with minimum fuss – one or 2 clicks. The login button should be easy to find.
- Or if they are looking for technical information then they should be able to click through to a well organised “Downloads” page.
2. Know your audience
You need to understand your audience since they are the reason for the website being in the first place.
Draw up a profile who your site visitors are e.g.
- What they look like and what they do.
- Define what their motivation is for visiting your site – are they coming with a definite purpose looking for a specific piece of information.
- How well educated they are and their influence on a whether a purchase or contact is made.
- Location – Where are they from – geographically. If they are local to your region, you can engage with them knowing that that they area familiar with local customs, conditions etc. If they are from another country you will need to consider language and local customs, laws etc
- How do they prefer to communicate with you? Phone? Email? Chat? Online form?
- Ask them what they want? Use a sample group of say 20 users and ask them what they want for your website or web app. A call to each with a list of questions is a good starting point.
- Ask your key staff members what they want from the website.
Knowing your audience means that the wireframe, user interface, copy and design can address each effectively.
3. Know your competitors
Compile a list of your competitors and similar businesses to your own. That is one of the best things about the Internet – it is easy to find out what your competitors are doing!
- Pick out 3 of your biggest competitors and make a list of what you like and don’t like about their websites
- Pick out 3 (or more) websites that you like – preferably that are in a similar industry to your own. Again list what you like and don’t like about each.
4. Appoint a project champion
For the business and for the web developer, this is one thing that makes a web project run more smoothly.
A project champion (or project manager) that is internal to the business is hugely important to ensure that decisions needed during the project are made quickly and decisively.
5. Prepare your branding, content and images
When it comes to designing the user interface(UX) and then the look of the site, the designer has to have access to your branding guidelines, photographs, video and graphics and as much of the content as possible.
- Branding Even if you have just your logo and tagline, ideally you should have branding guidelines drawn up so that everyone is one the same page on how the logo and brand is used.
- Images, videos and graphics.
- If you have your own quality images/photographs, done by a professional is best. The more of these that are available the better.
- Graphics can be great way to get your message across in a visually
- Video has become a very powerful way of communicating with your audience and can be cost effectively created too.