Your new website will become a critical business tool, so it’s important that we get it right. Before site development starts we need to step back and consider the following areas.
Your Business Requirements
What are the key requirements of your new site? What must it do to fit your business needs? Each client has unique requirements so we’ll discuss them in detail, but the following examples will give you an idea of what comes up:
- Site content must be editable. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many design agencies supply websites that can’t be edited by the client. If you’ve paid for a website you should be able to manage it yourself.
- The site must provide information about your company and its services. Again this seems obvious, but taking the time to organise this information will lead to a site that’s easier to use. When redesigning an existing site we often find that some of this information is present, but it’s been added over time on an ad-hoc basis. It may make sense to you but actually confuses site users. As we’ll come to in a moment, identifying site user requirements is the other important area to consider.
- A blog section and integration with social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This can be a good way to increase online visibility and drive traffic to your site, but it has to be backed up with relevant and useful information once people reach you.
- The site should provide ways for customers to get in touch. This is extremely important as we’re talking about providing contact methods, not just listing contact details.
- An update to an existing website design. Perhaps your website no longer matches your print branding, or it’s time to refresh everything.
Site User / Customer Requirements
This is the key area, and one that a lot of sites miss. Keeping your business requirements in mind, we need to identify what customers want from your site. Why are they visiting the site? What are they looking for? What tasks do they want to carry out? Again, we’ll discuss this in detail but the following requirements often come up:
- The site user wants to know who are. They may have been handed a business card or followed a social networking link and want to check your company out. They may also have more specific tasks in mind:
- The customer wants to know if you offer the services they need.
- The customer wants to see examples of your work, clients and testimonials. Basically, they want to reassure themselves that your company is capable of providing the required service.
- The customer wants to get in touch with someone at your company.
Customer Behaviour / Access Methods
We’ll also look at the different ways customers may access your site, and how this affects their behaviour. For example, it’s likely most users will be accessing the site via mobile. This imposes specific design constraints and considerations, but is also an opportunity to make your site as user-friendly as possible.
So, What Now?
Some of the points raised will seem obvious, but it’s worth thinking about these things before getting into the technicalities of site development. It’s far better to identify business needs at the first stage than a month into the project when it’s very difficult to change things. This information also lets me work out timescales and the cost of your new site.
- What do customers want from your website?
- What do you need the website to do?