I have worked at several agencies over the last 9 years, but only since coming to MGH have I realized the importance of research/discovery when it comes to designing and building a new website. There are so many talented web designers out there, but is a pretty or flashy website enough? The answer is no. A pretty site might get you some press or excitement when it launches, but in the long run, a client needs their site to be achieving specific goals for their business.
Below are three areas that a client should focus on before they start the design process for a new website:
- Clearly outlining the goals of the website – I’m sure this one seems obvious, but so many times people forget to ask this question and then a client has a website that is useless. How you tell your story will be determined based on these goals. Are you trying to generate leads, are you trying to sell a product or service, or are you looking to provide information to the user?
- Identifying personas or audience segments – Once you have outlined the goals of the site you will want to determine who your website is/should be targeting. Most businesses have several different audiences whose actions on the site will be completely different. You need to identify these before you can even start developing your site architecture.
- Creating your site architecture – After you have identified your audience segments and determined how they will be using the site you can start developing your site architecture. Here you will want to look at things such as content you already have to work with, the analytics of your current site and what will create the best experience for your user(s).
This list represents just a few of the many things that you will need to define before you begin designing your new website. The Research/Discovery phase is very easy to overlook but is the most important phase of your entire project.