Whether you’ve signed a contract and had a brief extract, or you’re simply beginning to consider the prospect of having a new website designed, there are many considerations to be made. This article will outline some of the key decisions to make in weighing up the benefits of a new website, or even just trying to work out if you really need that extra bit of functionality which is nice to have, but doesn’t necessarily convert to revenue.
What is the key intention of your website? Until this is defined decisions are essentially just guesswork. Granted, some things are, and should be obvious, though operating without taking a meticulous and logical look at reasoning can result in assumptive and costly decisions.
For example, If you’re building an e-commerce website with the entirety of your business online, then you won’t need to funnel hundreds into a branded and interactive map system guiding prospective customers to a location they wont ever need to visit in order to purchase your products. This is quite a common mistake in the design of websites and can also manifest as duplicate features, rather than just surplus to requirement.
Sticking with the ‘map’ example, it’s also common to see inclusions of contact details and directions within both the ‘about’ and ‘contact’ pages of sites (often referred to as ‘feature-fatique‘.). When you’re paying a web developer or agency by the hour for anywhere between £50 and £150 per hour, it is imperative to refine workload and economise costs wherever possible by ensuring EVERY bit of your site serves its function and ‘adds value’ to the site.
It’s a great idea to employ George T. Doran’s age-old, goal-defining acronym, ‘S.M.A.R.T’ to help with this consideration. This methodology can also be applied in a more regular fashion to the content you decide you populate your site with.
We’ve just discussed the importance of identifying your goals. For similar purposes, it is very pertinent to also identify your audience. These two classifications of purpose and patronage often lean on/support each other; they are inherently connected. You may have already conducted persona research whilst writing your business plan or defining traditional sales and marketing routes. If you have, use it. If you haven’t, get on it!
Check out this example of targeted content, in which Software2 address their audience by discussing how to engage their audience’s audience!
As I’m sure is known by many, this research is key to a huge number of departments and functions within a business. When it comes to marketing and comms, if we know who our audience is and who we want our audience to be, we can design sites and content in their image. Demographic research is available freely on the web and for purchase if your needs are more niche or in-depth. Best yet, if you have the infrastructure and budget, conduct some bespoke research using real existing customers and demographic cross sections.
Once defined, a very simple way to approach design and UI features is as follows:
Does it add value to the site/your user? If not, don’t include it.
~Dan McGuire, at least once a day.
This is a really useful ethos our senior developer swears by. Those we are proud to call our clients tend to be very attached to their brands. This is only natural; their brands are their babies, just as I feel a patronage and protectiveness over Round’s brand. When approaching your brand with this head on (and I’ve experienced this from myself also) it can be difficult to refine design. We’re all likely to have grand ideas and meticulously crafted messages to communicate to our audience and so will often choose ‘and’ rather than ‘instead’ when it comes to website facets. This can result in busy looking designs and compromised functionality, which can lead to impeded rather than augmented business. No thanks.
Now here’s another consideration which is inherently related to the previous two (have you spotted a theme here?!). Considering ROI is often a clear method of defining and deducing the design and UI features which make it on to the final version of your site. It’s also often a more intuitive plane to think on for those business owners and directors. It is a worthwhile endeavour to measure the potential return on investment for each function of your site. Now this is a completely prospective exercise and so will be strengthened by existing data, though it will still require a degree of extrapolation and estimation.
For example, you could calculate the potential ROI on a blog section by weighing its cost against the revenue it can generate. For argument’s sake let’s say a blog section of a corporate website cost £1200 based upon an hourly rate, and that the blog’s sole purpose is to fulfil the contemporary inbound method. Let’s also assume that the blog generates 1000 unique visits per month, or which 300 ‘bounce’ or drop off and the other 700 click through to other areas of the site, leave details, register interest, etc. If the business in question has around a 10% conversion rate in converting leads to customers and a typical customer spend of £100, then the implementation of the blog section will generate £7000 of business per month.
1000 – 300 = 700
700 * 10% = 70
70 * £100 = £7000
Not all sections of a website will be definable by ROI; some sections can be essential though will only very infrequently result in direct business. For example, a customer service/help area may be necessary in order to provide support to existing customers, though won’t often result in new purchases. Granted, it will contribute to customer satisfaction and encourage repeat business, though very infrequently will that be measurable and definable in terms of ROI.
Developers are creatures of logic and literality. Much like the Sith, they deal in absolutes and communicate everything clearly and meticulously. Don’t assume your developer knows your audience or your business model or why you might have requested a specific functionality. Be open with them and ask for their advice; they’re the experts. I’ve seen countless occasions where a client may request a website feature and, once the dev team here at Round delve into it, it transpires that the feature would be expensive, not particularly valuable, and even achievable through much faster, easier and, therefore, inexpensive methods. Whilst challenging clients can sometimes be tough, we would be remiss if we did not raise these points when designing and building. We have a duty of care and the website MUST do exactly what is required of it.
GIF related; Drax the Destroyer being super literal.