What are the very first things you consider before starting a website project? Plus, what are your very first steps? Are you searching for design inspiration on step one, or very close after that? Perhaps you are more of a developer, and may need to explore code and functionality soon after your consultation meeting.
Although, if you are more focussed on design and code at the beginning of the project, you may be heading for disappointment. Yes, brilliant design and clever code is important, but they’re not the make or break success factor you may think they are.
It is completely impossible for any website to succeed without a deep understanding of its site visitors. When you get to the core of any site, it is not built for the client, or the designer, it is built and exists due to the visitor.
You Need a Plan
Failing to plan is planning to fail. You’ve probably heard this sentence so much that it may seem a bit cringe. But it is true. Without a plan you are basically going with your gut instead of real customer insight, and if you don’t take the time to invest in research and strategy, you may need to reconsider your reasoning for building the website. While your gut may not have proven you wrong before, we suggest that you opt for some solid research.
You need to begin by setting measurable goals for the website. Your goals also need to be specific, not like “generate more leads” or “drive more traffic”.
For example, if your goal is to drive more traffic, you can define it specifically by:
- How much more traffic
- Generated how
- What quality of traffic
- When is the deadline
If you do this, your plan will guide your initial build, and your long term marketing initiatives to success.
Even the very best plan can sway if you neglect its purpose. Plus, if efficient communication isn’t at the top of your list, it should be. Before anything else, the client’s website is the first point of communication.
Whilst your website has the desire and ability to achieve wide set goals, there is no way that it will achieve them if you don’t talk to the customer. To effectively communicate, you need to understand the customer and create a set of personas to help you.
A customer persona is a detailed profile of a unique individual who will represent your customer base. For example, one of your personas could be a male in his 40s who is:
- A husband, father of two
- Works 50 hours per week as a builder
- Tech savvy which a computer science degree
- Prefers email communication
- Is active on Twitter and Facebook
The point of the above is so you as the designer knows that price isn’t a problem for the visitor, but time is. You should perhaps gather a more robust profile, whilst even thinking of the ‘what ifs’.
If you follow these steps, you are guaranteed to be miles ahead of most of your competition. Most designers and developers go straight into designing and building their clients’ website, so you are guaranteed to be on the best track having taken this advice. Be sure to take a look at our other tips and tricks on our website.