Strategies for Defining Your Website Requirements
Starting the design process before defining your website requirements is the digital equivalent of putting the cart before the horse; it makes no sense. Before you can even engage the services of a software developer and creative designer, you need to know in advance exactly what you want your online presence to achieve. Only once your website requirements are established can you then decide on how, and what skills you need to source, to achieve them.
What is Strategic Design?
Strategic design is about tying up all aspects of your project and fusing these together with an end-product that is not only aesthetically pleasing and supports your brand but can also help you achieve your business goals.
We can probably all think of some great examples of stylish websites that ‘look the business’ which sadly fail to deliver on a number of levels This could be pure functionality, speed and performance or are just not reaching an audience because the design didn’t include any SEO features.
When it comes to designing a website, strategic design is essential to prevent your website from becoming another casualty to the category of ‘all fur coat and no knickers’.
Strategic Design to Define Your Website Requirements
1. Decide What Your Goals Are
It may sound redundant to some and obvious to others but, to be clear, you need to lay out your goals for your website before you can start working on the design.
- Are you simply looking to offer a digital marketing brochure or an online business card or do you want to provide your customers with an interface they can use for a practical purpose?
- Is your website intended to drive sales or boost brand awareness?
- Are you looking to capture contact information for lead generation or build an online database of content?
- Are you trying to drive traffic to another website for affiliate marketing or keep customers for as long as possible on your own site? Are you educating or entertaining?
- Are you selling or buying?
Your website requirements must be clearly identified in advance if you have any chance of these being successful.
2. Define Your Target Audience
Again, this is ‘Back to School Basics’ for developing any strategy but you would be surprised just how many websites are designed without a clear understanding of the target audience.
If you know your business then you should already have some market intelligence about the demographics your business, service or products are appealing to. If you don’t have this data then you need to do some research.
Only by knowing who your audience are can you hope to define your website requirements. Age, gender, background, educational level, income level, family size, occupation, interests, marital status etc. can all play a vital role in key aspects of the design of your site.
If your audience are likely to be highly educated academics then the Flesch-Kincaid score (ease of readability) of your content will be very different to a site aimed at teenagers. Likewise, a more informal tone might be appropriate for the latter vs a more formal one. Tech savvy millennials will expect a certain amount of functionality without much guidance whilst customers of an older generation may not be as competent in this area.
Every element of your website’s design should be tailored to suit your target audience and not just be chosen at whim because it’s ‘trendy’ or because the design is appealing to your Sales Director. From choice of fonts, colours and layout to graphics, media and written content, the design choices should be influenced by your intended users.
3. Determine Your Brand
Your online brand is an important extension of your company’s image and should wholly represent your business. Brand marketing is proven to be influential in establishing trust with your customers and should be consistent with the core values of the company.; in short, your brand makes the first impression with a new customer so should be consistent with the design and tone of your website.
4. Designate a Designer
Once you’ve reached some decisions about your website requirements, you need to appoint a web designer who can interpret this information and produce a deliverable that meets these aims.
If you don’t know any website designers then get some recommendations from people and organisations you can trust. Ask to see examples of their work and look very closely to see how different these designs are. Websites are not pieces of art and should not have a ‘signature style’ that identifies it as one specific designer’s piece of work. Each website should be unique to the company who commissioned it and, most importantly, should be judged against that customer’s original objectives.
Oh, and remember, whilst a creative website design may make your business memorable this should not come at a cost of sacrificing functionality and abandoning the intended purpose of your website.
5. Deploy and Dissect
Once your designer has interpreted your website requirements and turned these into an end-product you are pleased with, the next step is to launch and get ready to analyse performance.
You should go back to your original objectives and use these to establish a method for evaluating the success of your website. This should include key milestones and targets by which you can measure performance.
6. Develop and Adapt
Using analytics data, you should make it a key part of your strategy to revisit your design and make any adjustments needed to help you achieve your goals. Whilst your business objectives may not have changed, your website requirements may have.
Be prepared to make your web design strategy an ongoing role in your company that requires regular monitoring and good housekeeping. It has a hugely influential part to play and is not a ‘set and forget’ measure.
Opace and Web Design
Opace is a specialist web design agency based in Birmingham. As well as delivering technical expertise and creative solutions, we offer an intelligent service where we aim to carefully match our client’s business objectives to unique and functional web design.
To find out more about the professional digital solutions we can offer, contact one of our team today.