The decision has been made. Your company is getting a new website, and you're the one leading the project. But where on earth should you begin? To help you get off to a great start, we've gathered seven key questions for you to consider in the process. Our guidelines can be used by both new and seasoned digital project managers and web professionals.
1: What is the budget and timeline?
Before diving into the details of an upcoming web project, it's essential to have a sense of the budget framework you are working within. The budget can help you set boundaries and priorities. The same goes for the timeline. Also, consider whether you want to involve suppliers and consultants or if you (or your team) possess the competencies and resources the project requires in-house.
A good rule of thumb is that if you have ample time and a relatively straightforward project, your in-house resources can handle it. However, when faced with a complex project and a tight schedule, it may be a good idea to involve specialists from outside your organisation.
2: Do you have a strategy?
Mission, vision, and values are key elements in your company's overall strategy. Your company's strategy forms the foundation of your digital strategy. This means that all the initiatives and goals you formulate for your website and other digital platforms should align with the company's overarching strategy. How do you ensure that alignment? Invite key stakeholders and your project team to a workshop where, with your overarching strategy in mind, you formulate KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and success criteria for the digital channels. Is the goal to attract more visitors, increase the conversion rate, strengthen brand loyalty, or something entirely different? With the goals in place, you have a direction to navigate towards as the project progresses.
3: Who are your users?
You already know it—the customer is at the centre of everything. When you understand your audience, it becomes much easier to refine communication, design, and functionality. Perhaps you already have a good idea of who your customers are? Maybe you have previous market research or customer satisfaction surveys from which you can extract insights. Perhaps you can enlist a handful of customers for usability testing, gathering feedback on how your website is perceived by the target audience. Or maybe you should take the time to listen to your customer support, it may give you a interesting new perspective on your business. If you're fortunate enough to measure traffic in your digital channels or perhaps regularly conduct a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey, these are certainly data points worth delving into.
Once you've collected data about your users and know who they are, you'll be well-equipped to make decisions about the website's layout, structure, and design.
4: How should the site look?
The design and experience provided by your website is a direct representation of your brand online. Therefore, you should carefully consider the following:
- Colour scheme
- Image/photo style
- Graphic elements
- Consistency between offline and online experiences
If your visual identity has remained unchanged for many years, it may be time for a makeover. Perhaps you already have an established offline style that needs to be adapted to the digital world. Or maybe you recently updated the design without achieving the desired impact on your target audience and website traffic.
Regardless of the size of your design task, it's crucial to think carefully about it before diving in. This involves having a clear understanding of your company's values, business goals, and a deep insight into your target audience before embarking on the design process.
5: What about usability?
Structure, naming, and navigation are crucial elements when it comes to usability. It's commonly said, "If the user can't find the buy button, the user can't buy the product." Therefore, you should carefully consider the structure of individual pages and the flow throughout your website, so users can find the content or products they need. It's essential to think about creating a user experience that works across devices (smartphones, various-sized laptops, and tablets) and across browsers (Chrome, Safari, Edge, etc.).
Remember that you are not your target audience. Therefore, during your work on user experience (UX), involve users and examine what they say and do. This can be achieved through qualitative studies such as usability testing, focus groups, and observations, as well as quantitative studies like surveys, mouse-click analysis, heatmaps and A/B testing.
6: How do you drive traffic to the site?
When users search on Google (or another search engine), they receive a list of organic (non-paid) results. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) focusses on the goal of getting your website to rank as high as possible on that list of results, so users click through to your site. In other words, you're generating free traffic. Technical SEO, content, and links make up the three pillars of search engine optimisation:
- Technical SEO – Having a good structure which encourages visitors (and search engine robots) to reach the content they require with as few clicks as possible can help with the indexation of your content. Speed also plays a role since heavy and inefficient pages can be penalised by search engines. To achieve a good ranking on the results list, design elements like images, videos, animations, and graphics should be used carefully and compressed to ensure your website loads quickly for search engines.
- Content – It's about understanding what your target audience wants to find on your website (user intent). You should provide your audience with answers to what they're looking for. Therefore, you should keep the keywords you want to be found on in mind when writing relevant and credible content that search engines love and therefore rank well in search results.
- Links – Referrals from other relevant websites to content on your website build credibility and authority. The goal is to get as many contextually relevant referrals (backlinks) as possible. The more credible and popular sites positively mention your services, the more positive the impact on your website’s ability to rank.
7: Which CMS should the site be developed on?
Most websites are built on a Content Management System (CMS). This is where you can edit, manage, and maintain website content to keep the site fresh and updated.
A CMS typically consists of a set of modules and templates that you can combine in various ways to build individual pages. You can think of a CMS like a box of Lego blocks. The blocks come in different sizes and shapes and can be combined in many ways to form a whole.
Which CMS is most suitable for your organization depends on how complex your website is, how future-proof a solution you need, how many web editors you have, and what you're willing to invest in a new CMS.
Would you like guidance on how to get started with your next web project?
Or are you curious to learn more about how we can help with the entire process or specific aspects—from strategy to UX, design, and technical implementation?
Please don't hesitate to contact us and have an obligation-free conversation with one of our specialists. We look forward to helping you.