Defining Your Web Design Strategy

Having a good web design strategy will pay off for you and your organization. Whether the website is up and running or you’re composing a blueprint for the new site, having a a good web design strategy will help you ensure your website tells your story. The main reason you need one is because that’s how you “stick-the landing.” It will create a vehicle for your team to capture & document conversations which always seem to go in circles. After you have it down on the paper, you can assure that everybody is on same page when you’re implementing the plans and managing operations. It is a living document that may change as the website evolves, although at its’ core, the web design strategy will tell the story of your website to your team and ultimately your audience.

Defining Your Web Design Strategy

The Design Strategy Has Six Parts

Part 1: Your Goal

What’s the purpose of the website? Why does the website exist? (This shouldn’t be a thesis.) You can write-down your goal(s) in 30 words-or-less. The supporting documents may explain the goal in more details, but for the design strategy, it’s best you keep it strategic & high level. If everybody in the organization is to own-the goal, they must all be able to-remember and repeat it.

Part 2: Your Branding

That’s the part that has 3 elements and they all interrelate. The first is a side by side analysis of the problems and the solutions. (One of the most common principles in communications, states that if you can describe a problem, you basically own the solution. Let us say that the problem is the website struggles with duplication and redundant content. A solution is having authoritative content, meaning picking a winner & eliminating redundancy.) After you have had all the problems identified, think about the opposites to identify solutions. You can put the list of problems and corresponding solutions in a priority order.

The second branding element is knitting together the side by side which compares your businesses goals against the value proposition for your audience and the visual strategy which flows from these. Let us say the business goals are to unify the content. The value for your audience is that they will gain more confidence in whatever you’ve to say. As a practical-matter they might lead to the decision to collect similar content from across the site and reposition it to be found; all in one place. For instance, you might have numerous opportunities to sign up for different email alerts or RSS-feeds scattered all across you website. After you unify information into one stop-shop for sign ups which are easy to-find, you will have succeeded in being focused, unifying the content and earning the confidence of your audience.

The third element is your tagline. That’s your chance to-tie it all together using a memorable phrase. Think of this as a flag you plant on top of your mountain after you’ve scaled it.

Part 3: Target Your Audience

In case you’re like most organizations, you’re no stranger to need-to-know who your website is for. Think of the profile of who comes to the website today and who you intend to attract in future. You may get valuable insights in to your audience whenever you examine data of your Web analytics tool so as to see or find out where most of your visitors go, and what they’re searching for.

The act-of writing down the audience segments and getting buy-in from the Web team will help you channel energy into being audience focused. On the other hand, if you happen to allow the conversation to float and remain unsettled, it will hamper your ability to lead and prioritize your workload.

Part 4: What are Top-Tasks?

What do the people come-to your website to do? When you identify targets, think through all the content & services you’ve for each of the groups and whether the content meets their needs.

Typically Web content comes in 3 buckets:

  • The editorial content
  • The applications (at times split-into self service & job oriented)
  • Instructions

Do you have content that matches up with all audiences? Is the content unique or do the content overlap? Will you need to create new content so as to fill in a gap or can you re-position the current content & cover your needs? Sites can do hundreds-of different things. However, the 80-20 rule applies. Do not be surprised if you find that 80% of the audience-visits are on 20% of your pages. After you understand exactly where the activity-lies you will concentrate on the best sellers.

Part 5: Critical Success Factors

How will the team’s success be judged and rewarded? It’s up to you to frame the narrative for the ones who will make the decisions. In case you fail to do this, others might seize the ground from you & tell the wrong-story. The risk here’s that you’ll fail in the eyes of your organization and your reputation may suffer.

After you form a road map, you have to get it approved. When you’re finished with the design-strategy, you can package it up and present it to the team and supervisors.

Do you intend to be a standards based organization? Do you want to save cash? Do you wish to repair or/and nurture your reputation? You should think about the impact-of these goals internally and externally. Ensure that each of the goals can be measured in some way for you to chart the progress and take a victory lap after you break through the milestones.

Part 6: Technology Constraints
There is no tool that is perfect. You should get with the tech team or your vendor and know up-front what the tools can and can’t do. Basically you don’t want to bear costs of customizing codes, so the out of the box solution & its’ limits should be well understood so you can set reasonable expectations about what is and isn’t possible.

Conclusion

A good strategy will provide a historical reference point for your project. It will seed much better internal-communications for the team and it will also support accountability since the elements are traceable.

More Benefits 

1. Everybody will be on the same page thus letting you manage up to your boss, manage down to your team and manage outward to the vendors and stakeholders.
2. Lets tactics flow from strategy and guides decisions.
3. Endless cycles of same conversation are put to rest.
4. You prioritize your workload by shedding what does not measure up & concentrating on what is important to your organization’s success.

As you can see, there are many benefits to a good web design strategy and it is important you take the time to develop one in order to guarantee success.

 

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Megan Wilson
Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)walkme.com
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