I won’t bore you with an introduction to why every brand needs a website. That’s very 2005. But I will definitely tell you the 4 point website design strategy you should follow before you decide on building your next website.
A great website is all about amazing user experience.
I say user experience and not design because design is subjective. A website might just be plain HTML-based and have zero design aspects considered. But it might still provide an amazing user experience for what its users want.
So, how do you ensure that you have in place a solid website design strategy? How do you begin thinking about it?
Here are 4 pointers to get you started.
1. Technology Strategy
Always be crystal clear about the server requirements you would need. They can make or break any web project.
Some of the most common server issues faced are:
- incompatible server platforms
- outdated software
- choosing a CMS that doesn’t fit project needs
- unsupported frameworks, etc.
If you have clarity about the needs of your website, it is easier to determine your technology needs. Define your website requirements based on what it could lead to in the future, rather than what you need right at the moment.
A few questions to consider:
- What server platform will host the site?
- What are the hardware/software specs for that server?
- Are there existing tools that you can build on top of to save time/money?
- Will you pull/share data from other sources using an API?
- Which content management system (CMS) will you use (or will you build one)?
- What language is the CMS written in? Does your server support it?
- What are the technology requirements for the chosen CMS?
- What administrative tools does your host offer to help manage your domain?
- Do you need any additional tools for production management and testing?
- How will any of the answers to these questions affect user engagement?
2. User Strategy
Before you start working on the website content and information architecture, define who your users are. Spend some quality time and resources in defining your users right down to the minute details.
Align every customer touchpoint with your vision for the user’s experience. The better you understand the user’s journey on your website, the better experience you can provide them. And almost always, a better user experience leads to more business.
A few questions to consider while creating your user strategy:
- Who does your site serve?
- How old are the visitors to your site?
- What is their age, race, socioeconomic background, and so on?
- What is their reading level?
- How technically proficient are they?
- How familiar are they with social tools, blogs, web apps, and the like?
- What specifically are they looking for from your site?
- How much are they willing to spend (if applicable)?
- Will they visit once or repeatedly?
- What are their preferences for interacting with your brand?
3. Content Strategy & Information Architecture
Content strategy revolves around using content as a primary means of achieving your business goals.
As Marketmuse’s blog mentions, content encompasses four elements:
- Information – What are the actual contents of your message? It can be factual, practical, entertaining, informative, or some combination of the three.
- Context – What is the content supposed to help you and the reader accomplish? Who is the target audience for this content? Why is it being published?
- Medium – What channel are you publishing the content on, and how does that influence the overall message?
- Form – Is the content text, graphic, audio, video, interactive, virtual/augmented reality, etc.?
Building a brand story will also help you in defining your content strategy.
Interested in a free content strategy template? Drop your email below and I’ll send you one right away!
Creating a successful information architecture (IA) often involves extensive discussions with content authors, site administrators, designers, and developers to ensure that everyone’s objectives will be met. This will help everyone define how much content the site has, how it’s organized, how often it’s updated, and so on.
A good IA plan is an important step for building a solid foundation for your website design strategy. Successful IA usually involves several iterations of navigational flowcharts and outlining a user’s experience in great detail.
4. Usability Strategy
Usability refers to the ease with which a user can accomplish specific tasks on your website in a way that satisfies their needs.
This is very much linked to the user strategy. Because the better you know your user, the better experience you can provide them on their journey.
WQ Usability describes usability based on four key requirements:
- Usability means thinking about how and why people use a product.
The first step in usability is understanding your business goals in the context of the user’s environment, task, or workflow, and letting these needs inform the design.
- Usability means evaluation.
Usability relies on user-feedback through evaluation rather than simply trusting the experience and expertise of the designer. Unlike conventional software acceptance testing, usability evaluation involves watching real people use your website, and using what is learned to improve it.
- Usability means more than just “ease of use”
The 5 Es – efficient, effective, engaging, error-tolerant and easy to learn – describe the multi-faceted characteristics of usability. Interfaces are evaluated against the combination of these characteristics which best describe the user’s requirements for success and satisfaction.
- Usability means user-centered design
A user-centered interface satisfies users. When their goals, mental models, tasks and requirements are all met. The combination of analysis, design and evaluation all approached from the user’s point of view creates usable products.