Unlike human evolution (which happened somewhat haphazardly), the development of a successful website depends on having a solid strategy and plan.
The old saying “those who fail to plan, plan to fail” is particularly true when it comes to web design and web development. Without a plan, it’s easy to get lost in a maze of site architecture, graphic elements, forms, blogs and more. The result is a site that is not cohesive, hard to navigate, and less than successful.
The good news is that if you take the time to develop a clear web design strategy and brief, and use that as the baseline for your plan, adjusting for evolution of ideas over time, you can stay on target, on track, and “on message” with your new website or redesign project.
The first step for any web design strategy and brief is the project overview. This outlines in broad strokes objectives you want your site to meet, who the target audience is, and any specific or special requirements.
Your company’s profile plays a major role in your web design and development strategy. Do you have an established brand, or are you a startup company looking to make a splash? While you will certainly be asked for more information about your company at a later stage, the basics about your industry, what you do and how long you’ve been doing it can help to create a comprehensive picture for your web development team.
Your Target Audience
In this section, it’s essential for you to go into more detail about who you are trying to reach. Provide information about your existing or ideal customers, as well as specifics about the geographical area you operate in. This will help your web designer to create a site that appeals to your target market, and if they’re taking care of SEO and marketing too, it’ll provide information about how broadly (or narrowly) targeted your marketing efforts will be.
Current and New Website
If you are hoping to redesign an existing website, then you will need to provide information about your existing site. Explain what is working, and what’s not. Then provide information about what you want your new site to look like, and what functionality you need to include. If you have examples of sites you like, include links, and if you need to add something significant to your site (like an e-commerce store) be sure to outline exactly what you need.
Part of your web design company’s job is to make sure that they give you a proposal for a website you can afford. With websites, as with everything, there’s only so far your budget can stretch, and your web design company needs to ensure that you have a clear picture of how far that is. Knowing what you can afford can also help them to develop a scalable design plan that will grow with your business over time.
If you want your potential web design company to provide a proposal in a certain way (for example, core functionality as a lump sum, and all other elements as an hourly estimate), make sure that they are aware of that up front. If you are asking numerous companies for proposals, it can help to have all of them follow the same format, so you know you’re comparing apples with apples.
Finally, if you have specific deadlines for your project or for your proposal, make sure they are clearly outlined in your list of requirements. Also include the contact information for the person responsible for driving your web design project internally, so that companies have someone to refer questions and requests for clarifications to. You should find that this format gives you a much clearer, realistic picture of what your project will entail.
It is better for everyone involved in your web design project if the goals, wants and needs are clear from the start. It’s best to put the effort into creating a detailed outline, so that you can be sure you’re working with the right company, and your project follows a clear course from start to finish. So spend the time, decide what you want and need, and then approach one or more companies with all the information on hand.