It takes a team of people to build a web site in today’s Internet environment. The most costly mistakes are not understanding what web site ownership is really about. Where do you go to find out?
Below is a listing of discussion points which are helpful when deciding on a budget, strategy, skills, team members, web site needs and especially, your goals and priorities. It’s a place to start.
- Decide the lead goal(s) for the web site (i.e. provide information, online sales, sales leads, product sales, travel reservations, general information, etc.)
- Who is the target market/user/customer?
- Discuss the types of applications required, such as shopping cart, reservations, contact forms, sales lead forms, etc.
- Research vendors for third-party applications.
- Discuss platform, server, programming, database needs
Web Site Design
- Requirements include type of programming (html, xhtml, php, etc.)
- Will Flash be used and if so, what are the pros and cons?
- Is accessibility a requirement?
- Is usability and user experience design a requirement?
- Is search engine marketing a requirement?
- Is mobile design a requirement?
- Is social media marketing a requirement?
- Information architecture – taxonomies, keywords, language, navigation and sub-requirements such as search engine optimization and usability
- User interaction requirements such as product feedback, ratings, blog comments, etc.
- Discuss video and images usage, format, inclusion.
- Content writing
*Note that functional requirements should support business goals.
- Online and/or offline?
- Will social media marketing be included in the budget and what does this entail?
- Search engine marketing – includes data tracking, PPC, link building, etc.
- Blog? Forums? User generated feedback?
- Use of video?
- Mental models and/or user persona development to help direct the overall web site design. (Who is the site for and what is known about their online behavior?)
- Analytics – Needed are logs analysis, projection, split testing, ongoing monitoring
- Functional and user interface testing for all applications; software application QA
The news is filled with stories of web site failures. What have they done wrong? Sometimes they ignore special needs users and were sued. Sometimes they followed high risk search engine marketing tactics that got them tossed out of search engines. Perhaps their web site was simply not usable by a certain demographic or the design didn’t meet customer expectations. The good news is that redesigns, reputation management and revised marketing plans heal such wounds.
Gather your team and have a pow wow. Reach out to trusted companies in areas where your expertise won’t suffice. Create a strategy and plan ahead. Be honest about your budget. Skimping will not help. Use the criteria above to brainstorm.