Following on from a previous blog at Digital Heart, I’m focussing on the main building blocks you need to examine to give your web project the highest chance of success.
The checklist below is quite long. However, all these steps really are necessary. To help you even further, we’ve even compiled these points into a free download that you can claim either here, or at the bottom of the page.
Get everyone in the team involved
The whole team needs to be onboard with the project. They need to know their exact roles, specific tasks, and how they plan to communicate with the rest of the team in order to make the web project a success.
Speak to customers to confirm their needs
Face to face meetings are usually best to help work with the client of what specifically they want in their web project.
Research your competitors’ advantages and shortfalls
Who are the audience you are trying to reach? A site made for the teenage market is going to look and work differently than one designed for a B2B company. It’s important to discover right from the beginning who you’re trying to appeal to with your website. From this, you can start to research competitors. Here are a few examples of what you could look for when analysing competitors:
– Potential customer base size
– Size of their following on social media
This can take some time, and It’s a topic that our team a Digital Heart will go into further in another blog.
Develop a content strategy
Considering now there are so many brands and companies online, developing an online personality that people engage with will take time. Generally, this ties in with a content strategy (podcasts, blogs, videos etc.). It’s all about creating meaningful content, and a lot of it. Now, you may be thinking, ‘Well… how do I even know where to start for developing my online personality?‘. And that’s a great question! I would suggest to start by looking at the people/companies in your industry that are doing extremely well online. Notice what type of content they are producing. Blog articles? Writing style? Do they have a podcast? What about a YouTube Channel? Are they active on social media with a large following? Also, what are their overall presentation skills like when they are on camera?
Create “user-stories” to map your users’ journey through the service
Below is a good example from the Digital Heart free eBook on how you can map a user’s journey through the website.
Put all of this information together as a brief – before designing anything
A clear, concise, and detailed brief is the guiding document for the entire web project process, and clearly states exactly what you as the organisation in charge needs to do. Here are the essential elements of a good design brief:
- Goals and Objectives for the web project
- Target market
- Materials – What graphics, text, are needed
- Budget and a detailed schedule including milestones
- Design (with wireframes)
- Anything that the customer definitely doesn’t want on the site
We cover this in more depth in this article [link]
Ask the designer to create wireframes and design mock-ups and get feedback from others before approving them (signing them off)
‘Wireframe’ may perhaps be a new term for you that you haven’t heard before. So to help you, here’s a definition: A website wireframe is a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website. When creating a website, the designer will draw up wireframes of how each page of the site could potentially look. Encourage your team to actively review the wireframes made by the designer as this feedback will help to speed up the whole process for the web project. Make sure the colours and the overall style match what you are looking for.
Include testing, training, and support requirements
One of the things I’ve noticed is many small business owners struggle to use their site efficiently. This ranges from posting blogs, embedding pictures and creating new pages. However, in reality, it isn’t much different to using a word processor, like Microsoft Word. You don’t want to waste a huge amount of money on a new site and platform, but then don’t know how to use it. Asking for training and support guides on how to use your new website from the designers & developers is recommended. Most of these support guides can actually be found online, with hundreds of websites dedicated to WordPress. For example, there is a free PDF download of a WordPress Guide here!
Ensure the system used has good built-in SEO facilities
WordPress is a platform we highly recommend. It’s structure is already set up with good built-in SEO, which takes the pressure off small business owners having to worry about it. There is a plugin called SEO by Yoast that I always download to new WordPress sites. It’s a one-click install. It adds a few fields to each page which once filled in, contribute towards search engines being able to understand and trust the page’s content.
Plan to redirect your old pages to your new website (using a 301 redirect), so you do not lose search engine ranking
If you’re a small business owner who doesn’t know too much about web design, the statement above may seem daunting! But relax, redirecting your old website traffic stats is a process that the web designer will be able to do, and it won’t take long at all! Just don’t forget to ask!
Choose a system that can be easily upgraded with simple plugins and widgets, and with a large community of developers available to help
Again, WordPress is perfect for this. It has a very easy to understand user interface. It will allow you to create new pages and post blogs on your website with the click of a button. In fact, I wrote this very blog on WordPress! There will always be somebody who’s able to help if you get stuck, with thousands upon thousands of developers and users around the world, many of whom love to help other WordPress users.
Get somebody in your team to own the project and manage it internally
Highlighted in this article last week was the importance of a project manager. Whoever is chosen, they need to be:
- Extremely organised
- Able to communicate effectively with the rest of the team and with the external service providers through face to face conversations, emails and phone calls.
Overall, they need to be on top of everything going on with the web project. This is the person who will be responsible for making this whole project happen.