I need a website

It may sound simple but that’s often the request we receive; our immediate response being, why do you need a website and what is its purpose?

Is it:

– transactional

– informational

– brand positioning

– creds

– vanity

– lead generation

Nearly every business has a website, so why do some work better than others and how can a website be made to be effective?

As with most creative projects, it all starts with a brief, key objectives  and following a process. Typically a website brief should identify the following:

  1. 1. Background to the business, what does the business do, what makes it unique
  2. 2. Brand guidelines, do they exist, if not then maybe that’s another conversation. Knowing how a brand behaves is important to being able to translate a brand essence into a how a website behaves, what are the rules around imagery, language, tone of voice, colours and fonts
  3. 3. Timeless, what’s the intended go live date, what are the project milestones
  4. 4. Project team, who is in it, who is responsible, accountable, who are we consulting and who simply needs to be informed
  5. 5. Commercial objective of the site… Is it to build brand awareness, generate leads or to be a straight forward transnational site that needs content
  6. 6. What has the website got to convey, what’s the tone of voice and does it need to showcase imagery and video
  7. 7. Preferred platform, we tend to use the industry standards of WordPress and Shopify, we have built bespoke sites in the past but realise that the platforms available are a great starting point: we can always tailor design to fit accordingly
  8. 8. Audience, who is the website aimed at, age, socio-economic group, what are they going to be influenced by – animation, video content, links, information, accessibility, ease-of-use?
  9. 9. Research – competitors, what does “good” look like? Websites are constantly changing, from a carousel to a parallax; who is doing it well and why
  10. 10. Hosting and maintenance – a great website is only that as long as it is maintained constantly, plug-ins updated and monitored. What’s the back up if the server goes down?
  11. 11. SEO, how is search engine optimisation going to work for the site and how will this link into other social channels. SEO is a specialised subject. Here we work with third parties who help to maximise traffic to a site

Once we know what the website’s objectives are, and who fits in where, we follow a process that we know works. We flex it depending upon the size of the project.

Experience is useful, it enables us to ask some of the questions that we know will fully explain the scope of the project:

  1. 1. Content planning. Representing a true reflection of what the final site will look like; assemble all the imagery, words, videos and pricing information, if applicable, to ensure all information is available
  1. 2. Navigation – it’s the bit that gets the brain whirring, but how will the site actually work, how do you get from A to B to Z and what happens when you’re in the middle of the site and want to access a different section? A well-planned site works smoothly: it’s only when the planning hasn’t been done correctly that errors occur
  1. 3. Initial pages – design the home page, and numerous key pages to demonstrate how the website will look and feel. We present various concepts at this stage to ensure there is plenty of discussion and debate before distilling the creative into one definitive route. We present the concepts via AdobeXD, a super tool that creates visuals as web pages so that we are looking at proper web pages
  1. 4. Development — after feedback from the initial creative we run the design through the whole website
  1. 5. Final review – present the entire site having checked for accessibility issues prior to stage 6
  1. 6. Test, test and test again….and then launch
  1. Hosting and management – manage the ongoing maintenance of the site

This process has worked for simple informational sites through to immensely-complicated multidisciplinary business sites – it’s straightforward and effective.

And it starts with Listening Intelligently (Get this bit right at the start of the process, and the rest of the process will be seamless. You may well have some fun along the way too.)