Website

The Importance Of: Planning A Web Project

With UK shoppers spending, on average, £753.3m a week online [1], there is no better time for brands to invest in a solid web presence. But what exactly makes a website successful, and how should you go about investing your time into making your website stand out from the competition?

First and foremost for brands, a successful website is something that will ultimately increase profits. This can be done in a number of ways, from direct sales through to improving brand awareness and exposure. A successful website can also help to form a solid core, from which you can develop and grow further online brand activations such as social media campaigns.

What’s more, all of these engagements can be seen, tracked and analysed; so that you can actively seek out and improve problem areas, giving you near real-time data of how your brand is interacting with customers.

Bearing all the above in mind, a well designed and developed website will be a valuable asset for any brand, so its worth spending time considering how you can maximise your website’s potential. How? Develop a solid plan that will help to clarify what you want to achieve. So, what should you consider when planning your website?

1. What Is The Content?

The most important part of any website is, without a doubt, the content. Otherwise, there is no point in the website. Coincidently, the content is the part that causes a lot of issues, as this is the part that clients are often required to provide themselves. When developing websites, having the final copy ready for creating wireframes is not necessary. When we refer to content, what we actually mean is content types. We can create layout after layout using content which we think may work, or excluding what we think is not working, but these are not real world designs.

The key is having a solid outline of the different types of content that is required on each page. You don’t need to worry about a specific product description at the planning stage, but you should consider what information your customer may require about a product, for example. Adding extra content types in at the planning stage isn’t an issue regarding design (it’s almost expected). However, trying to ‘shoe-horn’ in extra content formats into a finalised design due to bad planning could be costly — especially if the site is content managed, meaning the additional content may require additional development work.

2. Who Is The Audience?

You should know who your target audience is (more relevant if it is a new website). If you require the redesigning of an old website, your analytics (if available) should provide you with a wealth of information on who is using your site currently, so that you can optimise the new design to enhance their experience, while attracting new users.

When starting a new working relationship with a brand, we are the newcomers so any insight we can gain from you is invaluable. You will know your customers better than us. Knowing who is using the website and how they are doing so means that we can design and develop a website that will work for your customers. For example a younger audience may want more dynamic content that is available on mobile devices, whereas an older audience may only use desktop or laptop devices. There are also accessibility considerations, such as screen-reader compatibility or translation for use with multiple languages, which is also much harder to retrofit than to add in before or during the site development.

3. Who Is Involved?

Getting feedback from a number of people on a project — more often than not — causes issues. This is something that can easily be avoided by appointing someone to ‘run’ the website project.

This would take the form of a leader, who can collect any feedback and give it to us in solid well-formed chunks, rather than ‘dribs and drabs’ from everyone involved. Working this way speeds the process up and allows everyone to ‘read from the same page’. It is also important to make sure that any key decision makers are involved throughout the project, so that they aren’t taken by surprise when the final creative lands on their desk for the first time.

We like to get everyone involved in a project early on, with workshops to develop the user journeys and structure, so that we get all points of view and requirements for the website (remember, a website is also a tool for you to use to enhance your brand. It is not just customer facing — especially if you are developing an e-commerce site where your staff or you will be using the content management system on a daily basis).

Other Things To Consider

Consider where imagery is going to come from. Good design will be ruined by bad photography, and so should be budgeted for early on. The same goes for copy. Make sure you have time to invest in writing the copy, or the budget to hire a copywriter.

If you are updating an existing site, there may be guidelines that dictate what fonts should be used. It is worth considering this when starting out, as they may not be available for use online, or there may be a cost involved in purchasing the license.

With a new site, make sure the domain name is available. All the planning in the world creating a new brand can be wasted if the domain isn’t available. You will usually buy your hosting at the same time as the domain name, so make sure that you know what server specifications to look for when starting out (ask your digital agency for pointers) especially if you require a content-managed site.

Hopefully, the above points will help to get ideas flowing for your new (or updated) website. With your new-found insights, you should be in an ideal place to work with your digital agency to properly brief, design and build the website your brand deserves.

Sources: [1] http://internetretailing.net/2…

By

Mike Hill

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