August 12, 2010
Successful projects start with careful planning. No matter what type of project(whether building bridges or organizing world peace), ample thought needs to be given to the task. This is especially true for web development. Engineering the strategy for the site is an absolutely essential phase for both the website developer and the client.
Thorough website planning helps streamline the process for the developer while helping the client gain clarity on their vision and an understanding on the processes to come. A number of questions should be addressed and fully thought about before starting.
Here is a sampling of things to consider:
What needs to be achieved with the website?
Who is the target audience?
What “feelings” should the website design evoke?
How can we express the websites vision?
And this is just the beginning.
No need to get overwhelmed before we start – this is where the fun begins: Planning a website can be a very enjoyable and eye-opening experience when you get to think of all the ways to bring your brand to your space on the web.
Generally, there are 2 perspectives to keep in balance while in the planning stages of the website:
1.) what is your brand and how will it come across on the web to fit with the larger vision of the site? and
2.) how will your users experience the site?
It’s best to keep the original goals of the website in mind as you consider the user’s perspective and how they will use the site. All too often, websites are built entirely around the client’s goals and visions with little consideration about the end user (the customer). Often this creates a disconnect in the site’s purpose and intended function if the user isn’t quite sure how to use the website.
For example, filling the website with industry specific jargon can help build trust in the website visitor, but over doing it can leave the user confused and could ultimately push them to the competition who may talk a bit more “with” the user versus “at” them. Everyone involved in the planning phase must always keep the end user in mind. When a visitor comes to a site, they come with questions and are seeking answers:
Can I trust this company?
Do they do good work?
Are their products affordable?
Can they get my job done?
How to reserve, buy or get more info?
Through careful website planning and design, you want to have all of these bases covered. The website needs to answer these questions with haste and provide an easy way for them to take action – a purchase, filing out a contact form, signing up for your newsletter, etc.
Since the attention span and patience of a typical user is very short, this interaction process needs to be clearly called out so as to not leave them guessing. Some intrigue is OK on a site if that is part of the fun of your brand and the experience of your site, but the user should never stare quizzically at your site for more than a couple minutes asking themselves questions like this: “I just want to do X, but I don’t know how or where to go.” By the time a user has to ask that question, odds are good that they will start looking elsewhere – like a competitor’s site. Just sayin.
A well thought out website plan keeps everyone’s expectations inline and ensures that the developer, the client and the end user all walk away with a positive experience.
Connective Web Design offers affordable web design and website development services specializing in WordPress, Ecommerce, Social Media and Search Engine Optimization. Visit www.connectivewebdesign.com to learn more!