Your online presence can be powerful – and it all centers around your website. From the first impression and overall visual appeal to the underlying structure and functionality, consider the following details before you begin building your site.
Define Your Audience
Who is your primary and secondary audience? How do you need to speak to them, and how are they getting to your website? Should anything be avoided or does it need to comply with any set standards?
Define Your Objective
What goals are you trying to achieve with your website? What do you need to tell your audience? Can you suggest a strategy or positioning to achieve the objective? Will the site map/size/navigation structure be changing (pages added/removed)? What is the most important information that needs to be on the initial website view? Is there a desired platform for the new site?
Must Haves vs. Like-to-Haves
What features do you want your website to have in both design and functionality? Once these elements are outlined, decide what is mandatory and what can be completed as a second phase to development or future enhancements.
Does your new site need a:
- Blog or newsfeed?
- Login feature/portal? If so, where to?
- Shopping cart?
- Photo gallery?
- Social feed?
- Form or forms?
- Translation feature? If so, provide an example site.
- Search feature? If so, with what capabilities?
Custom HTML/PHP Site vs. CMS Site
Defining your website’s backend structure is important. Two most common approaches are a custom developed HTML/PHP site and a CMS site (like WordPress):
A custom HTML/PHP site – is great for design flexibility as its design look and feel is completely customizable. The files are lightweight and do not depend on client and server communication, ultimately loading your site faster. There are no theme costs and is very SEO friendly. However, content updates/changes require a basic understanding of HTML code and editing software is needed.
A CMS (content management system) site, such as WordPress – is fantastic for quick and easy content changes/additions, and can be made using a user-friendly admin login – no editing software needed. It, too, it SEO friendly and can be managed from any computer. Where a CMS site is less desirable is its design flexibility when deviating from established theme and on-going maintenance to keep WordPress, plugins, and themes up to date. Its files and structure are also heavier and more cumbersome and depend on client and server communication – resulting in a slower load time. There are also additional theme and plugin costs, a learning curve to become familiar with the system setup, and low compatibility for any translation functionality.
Which structure do you prefer (and why)?
If you have a website in place currently, what challenges and strengths do you experience? What feedback do you receive from your users? Is there anything that needs to be removed/added entirely? What is your existing website platform?
Define Your Competitors
Who are your top 3-4 competitors? What are their websites? Do you feel they are successful? If so, why? Are there specific traits or functions you feel would serve well to include on your website?
What You Like
Define 3-4 websites you like that are industry related and 3-4 websites that are not industry related. Why do you feel like these websites are successful? What do you like about them?
What is the project launch date, and how will it be rolled out/announced?
Your website can be a powerful tool, communicating messages effectively. Whether it is selling your product, marketing your organization, or simply providing information, your site can be a 24-hour resource to your audience. Some preplanning, working with the right partner, and commitment of resources will ensure the best outcome.
Resources: For a comprehensive website project brief, right-click link to download here.
Aedieno is a boutique creative firm in Central Florida. We specialize in website consultation, website design, and website development. For assistance with your digital media needs, please contact us.