When you are set to begin a website project, time is often of the essence. As a result, we have the tendency to get “some real work” done quickly, to make sure we are getting our money’s worth. This mindset ignores a lot of research to the contrary. Spending extra time researching and planning your website will be worth much more to your bottom line in the long run. This is akin to arguing, “But if I save for retirement, it’s like I’m not getting paid as much now for the work I do.” Does it still sound like a good idea to rush into the project?
Gather Website Requirements
A critical part of the Research Phase is determining a list of requirements for the website. This ensures that your company’s complete vision for the project is addressed, with no details forgotten. In addition, having this information written down in advance will keep the entire project moving consistently forward, because each step can be planned with all of those moving parts in mind. Forgetting this step will likely lead to a website that is incoherent, inconsistent, or incompatible with the company’s goals.
If you would like to submit your requirements electronically, or perhaps would like some guidance in that planning, you can take advantage of our free Website Design Questionnaire.
Research and Compare Competitor Websites
An often-overlooked area for ideas, requirements, and details that your customers might expect from your site are the websites of other people in your profession. What types of designs do they use? What are users able to do on their website that makes them more likely to do business with your competitors? The questionnaire linked above asks you to enter three websites that you really like, and this is the reason. However, the more you review, the better of an idea you will have for what your customers will expect when they visit your site. This knowledge can take you from “just another website” in your field to “a leading website,” and finally to “the best place to go online” for your field.
What are you doing that makes it in the customer’s best interest to choose you over someone else? Comparing their websites is how you discover that distinguishing selling factor!
Determine Key Terms, Design Elements
Finally, the Research Phase also determines just how your prospective customers will find your website. If they find you from a search engine, what words did they use in their search? What colors and shapes will best communicate the values and messages of your company? Although some of this is somewhat subjective, a lot of your customers’ perceptions of your company based on the website will be based on subjective means (how it made them feel about your company being able to meet their needs).
Phase One Complete!
As you can see from the above sections, the research phase is important for both your company and for the customers that will visit your website. Frankly, if you put your money into a website that does not meet your initial expectations, or that fails to make an impression on your customers, what was the point? Research is the foundation of a successful website project, and will make sure that you get the best return on your investment!
- Research Phase
- Gather Website Requirements
- Compare Competitor Websites
- Determine Key Terms, Design Elements
- Design Phase
- Final Design
- Development Phase
- Final Prototype
- Launch Phase
- Satisfy Hosting/Domain Requirements
- Upload Site to Web Server
- Submit Site to Search Engines
- Post-Launch Phase
- Tracking Analytical Data
- Maintain Website Wish List for Next Site Update