Website Design Process

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You may consider the website design process to be a graphic design process. The problem is that, while this process gives you a visually pleasing result, it can lead to a website that is not generating leads or sales.
 
This then leads you to another realisation; the actions you need to take to resolve this issue have not been catered for, nor can they easily be changed.
 
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A website design process that includes your strategic goals, marketplace insight, marketing innovation and critical tasks is the answer to developing a strong website plan and scope.

Your website design process, website plan and scope should cover at least 110 individual, fact based elements for your website and internet marketing strategy.

It should also consider your existing website, possibly making what you already have work better, rather than starting from scratch.

You can then enter into the website design and build, or improvement, phase with far more confidence and control. You can even work with any designer who you like the style of, being able to guide them strategically while they do what they do best – be creative.

So how do you execute a website design process, while staying within reducing budgets, whilst at the same time being pressured to generate more leads and sales?

  1. Know your market on the internet and the exact language they are using. This will allow you to focus your efforts on high quality prospects 
  2. Either educate yourself or ask for help, to analyse your competitor's and your site. This should cover at least 110 individual, fact based, website design process elements 
  3. Gain insights from your existing website through website analytics, like Google Analytics. Go beyond statistics
  4. Understand the integration points of your internet marketing strategy to your business strategy. Move beyond only marketing. Think about how the website can help the business increase revenue and reduce expenses. Even how best to integrate website analytics with your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems
  5. Determine how you will engage differently with your prospects, rather than how your competitors do. Give people a reason to come to you instead 
  6. What critical tasks will you need to execute to be successful? Consider areas like ways of generating traffic, frequently and consistently providing great content, defining your sales funnel, day to day maintenance and functionality requirements
  7. Ensure your website design process has strong foundations gained from Heat map Methodologies of design. More on heat maps below...

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Bring this together into a website plan and scope that includes:

  • Visitor, website and business goals 
  • All strategies you will use to drive traffic and their integration to the website
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other business measures 
  • Positioning as the only choice 
  • Database building, constant contact and lead nurturing programs 
  • The project plan the website will need to support 
  • The number of templates and pages required 
  • Review processes
  • Current website assessment 
  • SWOT Actions (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) 
  • Perceptions 
  • Calls To Action 
  • Marketing goals and action plan 
  • Design brief 
  • Search Engine Optimisation requirements
  • Navigation requirements 
  • Email marketing requirements 
  • Content plan 
  • Hosting Plan 
  • Any other special requirements 
  • Browsers, Operating Systems, Network speeds to be catered for
  • Training requirements 
  • Support and mentoring requirements 
  • Website Analytics package to install, best suited to business 
  • Functional requirements like; Content Publishing, Integrated Customer Databases, Ease of management, RSS feeds, Secure areas, Website reporting, Web form builders, Forums, Blogs, Photo Galleries, Ad Rotators, Meta Data management, ecommerce, Catalogues and Products, Customisation after build, Inventory Control and shipping, Multicurrency support, Up Sell and Cross Sell, Product Grouping, Attributes, Affiliate Programs, Gift Vouchers, Payment Gateways, Discount Codes, Shipping Options, Shipper Integration, Tax Codes, XML feeds, Lead management, - control and workflow, Booking engines, Internal email, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Tools, Accessibility, Administration Tools.

A note on Heat Map Methodologies

Website Design Process Heat Map Example _ Website Plan
                                  Example Heat Map 

Heat maps are gained by special research firms which monitor how people look at web pages. By placing eye tracking gear onto participant eyes, a deep understanding is gained of how people look at all types of web pages.

Red areas indicate where most people looked, down to dark blue or black where no-one looked.

There are heat maps that cover web pages, Google Search results, email marketing and other campaigns.

A design process based on these therefore helps you ensure elements of your website design are placed in the correct position. So you end up with a good looking site that also converts well.

A strong website design process considers these and ensures you have a web design based on facts gained from how masses of people look at web pages. This takes the guess work or “smoke and mirrors” out of your website design process.

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