I have been thinking of writing a post about my work. Something I do for my clients’ everyday which might help other business owners and website designers build better websites. So what is this post going to tell you? Let’s begin with a little indexing. This might seem random to you. Feel free to skim the parts you think you already recognize. It’s not rocket science.
- Why build a website at the first place? – What is the purpose behind creating a website for you?
- Who are your users? – Do you know the people who will be using your website?
- What are the best processes to follow? – I might not be right here. We are still trying to figure out. But, there are some standard methods to follow. Let’s talk about those.
- Have you done your competitor analysis? – Note down some points that you feel are important from your competitors. If there is an established business, copy their methods, tech-specs.
- How to achieve the goals? – We talked about your goals in the first point. Now how are you going to achieving them?
There are so many other areas in web designing that can be covered. But this will help you get started.
Why build a website?
You must be aware of the purpose behind building a website. It can be to generate more leads, build a better brand presence, touch base with your consumers, and sell your products or to showcase your work. Depending on your current business goals, your website goals will be set up.
Goals can vary over time. You may not always need to generate leads. And based on that your design will change.
I can’t elaborately tell you how business goals will directly affect your design. But these few examples might help:
- Goal (Lead Generation) – Design change (Open form on the homepage)
- Goal (User Connects) – Design Change (Social signup/Newsletter signup)
Who is your target audience?
In advertising we change our approach depending upon the target group. If our target age group is between 12 and 16, we use a different messaging. If it is between 22 and 28, we use an entirely different messaging. Images change with that as well. Similarly for websites, your design, your images, your content, everything will have to be arranged and used depending upon your target audience.
You also need to create user stories. What I mean is that how will different users browse your website. For an eCommerce website the user story can be something like this:
Customer connects with the website to browse through products:
1. The customer starts at the eCommerce homepage
2. He browses through the product catalog.
3. The customer gets information about the product
4. The customer decides if she wants to proceed with an order or not.
This was a very basic example. For each website there can be multiple user roles and multiple user stories. In case of product based websites, we also create user personas and do research on user behavior. You may not need to go so in depth at first.
Wait, I just got another great example to add here. Imagine you are selling cameras and your TG are casual photographers. Now, in that case which information on your product catalogue page will matter to them the most?
- The features of the camera
If your answer is features, you are probably wrong. Amateur photographers usually look for prices than features to start with.
This is the reason why you should do surveys about your customers before building a website.
Competitor analysis for website development:
You may have done loads of analysis for website. But your competitor is probably a step ahead of you. You may have missed out on some important elements that your customers want. From a competitor analysis, you can always get that extra information you missed.
Not just that but you may also notice some things that your website should not have. And you can save yourself from making the mistakes your competitors have made.
Achieving the goals:
Congratulations. You have made it till here. Now begins the actual work. The web development jargon that you are probably not aware of.
Information Architecture – It’s self-explanatory. Creating an IA is structuring your content for your audience. You need to drop the right content into the right buckets. I have added some links below which will tell you more about how you can do information architecture right. I might write an article on it myself. It’s really an interesting area to learn and apply. Your conversion, user flow, usability revolves around your information architecture. It’s the end product. Some agencies hire companies for their site IA and you might want to do the same. Even then it’s good to know the basics of information architecture for websites.
Usability – Usability is the answer to the question, “Can the user achieve his goals?”. Let’s take a scenario here. Imagine a user coming to your website to buy a camera. He goes through your website menu, finds the electronic section where usually cameras are listed, but can’t find it. You somehow thought cameras can be added under a section called hobbies. Well, that is unconventional. And your user was not able to achieve his goal. Bad usability.
User Experience – On the other hand, imagine that he was able achieve his goal. He finds his camera after going through multiple menus. He clicks on it and lands on the details page. But now he can’t find the product specifications. He scrolls down and after going through some terms and conditions, reviews he finds the specs. Now he finally scrolls back up and buys it. He did achieve his goal here. But how do you think he felt during the whole process? It was frustrating. So UX is the answer to, “Was the experience of the user delightful?”
There are many conventional and best practices for usability and user experience that you can follow. It will give you a basic idea of the overall concept.
Which process shall we follow?
It took me a long time to figure this out. What is the right website development process and how does bigger enterprises do it? You will find some standard process on the go and they are somewhat okay to follow.
- Take the brief – Understand the requirements.
- Do your analysis – Understand the market and do your analysis around that business.
- Create a strategy – Use your requirements and analysis and create a website strategy. It will include the following steps.
- Information Architecture
- Wireframes & Prototypes
- Development – You need to decide on the best platform for your business. For a corporate website you can select wordpress and for an ecommerce you can go for a prestashop or magento.
- Testing – Here you will have to do your UAT and Technical testing. Reporting bugs and changing unwanted areas of the website.
- Analysis – Keep testing, analyzing and improving.
I think I am going to write another version of this around Information Architecture, Usability and User Experience. These are three pillars of a great website. Check out this article here to get an idea about creating information architecture.
Hope you liked it. Watch out for my next article on conversion optimization. See you there.