Outlines the general overview of the project, organizational background, the environment the organization exists in, the people the organization serves and the unique value it provides to its audience.
What are two or three specific measurable goals that the site should achieve? Clear goals allow the Web team the ability to focus on what will provide the most impact and move the organization forward.
Who will help the organization achieve its stated goals? Most organizations speak to multiple organizations (such as customers, stakeholders, internal audience, suppliers, partners, shareholders and/or government institutions). Audience profiles include demographics, psychographics, brand perceptions, audience needs, online goals and tasks routinely performed.
Messages: What are the key messages that attract and motivate key audiences to engage with the organization? What are the key brand messages that help differentiate the organization from its peers?
Who are rival organizations that provide similar offerings to your audience? Include an overview of competitive organizations’ Web sites, considering visual branding, messaging, navigation, calls to action and key differentiators.
Defining the scope of the project is a critical step. One of the most common frustrations with Web projects is scope creep. By creating a well-defined project scope plan that outlines specific activities and deliverables, along with specific timelines, you will be able to clearly set expectations for your clients.
Wireframes and Site Architecture
Site architecture includes the sitemap and wireframes of pages. Creating the sitemap ensures that you’ve considered all the key pages in the site, showing their relationship to each other and defining how the sties overall navigation should be structured. Wireframes provide a detailed view of the content that will appear on each page. Although they do not show any actual design elements, the wireframes provide a guide for defining content hierarchy on the page.
Once the blueprint for the site has been defined through the creation of the sitemap and wireframes, the next step is to create a visual style. The overall visual style will most likely be determined by the visual brand of the organization; the goal being to connect the Web with all other forms of the organization’s communications. The organization’s brand plays an important role in this part of the process, as designers will want to visually convey key brand perceptual ideas within the design.
With designs approved, it’s time to flesh out the design of the pages, develop new content and refine old content, create videos, slideshows, podcasts and other media that will appear on the site as well as start to build out the HTML and CSS of the site.
Before the site is launched, it will be placed on a production server where only internal audiences and anyone who you share the link with can view it. Testing of the site is critical as there will inevitably be issues that need to be addressed before the site goes live. There is nothing that erodes a brand more than a site that doesn’t function properly or that has misspellings or broken design elements. At this stage the site will need to be reviewed on multiple browsers (Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer) and multiple devices (laptops, tablets, and mobile) to see if and where breaks occur.
The big day. You’ve tested the site, had it reviewed and approved by the project stakeholders, and you’re ready to launch. But once the site is launched, the project isn’t over — you should be prepared to address feedback from users adapting to the new site. Expect to make some immediate changes to the site, such as fixing broken links, editing copy and making adjustments. The Web is a fluid medium that changes on a daily, if not hourly basis — change is inevitable.
Websites are living, breathing entities and need constant care and maintenance. Updating content, making changes to the backend and fixing broken links are all in a day’s work.All of these phases are critical to the Web design process. But the thread that runs through the process is strategy: the desire to achieve a goal, to move the organization forward, to prosper in a competitive environment. Let’s take a look at what strategy is, how it is formulated and how it translates to the Web.