Project Planning and Management

First Steps in Building a Website

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| May 15, 2012 Posted in Project Planning and Management

“I am a fashion designer. I need a website because I want to sell my creations online. It needs to look good, it needs to be easy to use and it needs to use social media.”

When someone decides they need a website they often have some idea of what they want. Typical questions they ask themselves are:

  • How do I want it to look?
  • What features must it have?

These are great questions but before they are answered it’s helpful to step back for a moment and consider why you want the site to look a particular way or why you need a particular feature. Basically you want to answer the question: “What do I expect from my website?” This is an important question because there’s no point building a great site if it’s the wrong site.

This is the aim of the requirements analysis phase, to set the direction of a project by discovering what your expectations are for it. Below we have listed three questions to consider during this planning stage that will be helpful to make clear the strategy for your site before you move on to the questions of implementation or how the site will be built.

What benefit will my site provide or what problem will it solve?

This question is about the site’s purpose. Maybe you want to reach a bigger market for your products, enable greater communication with your clients or automate a tedious admin task. What are the goals of the site that make it worth the investment?

How will I measure the success or failure of the site when it is complete?

When your site development is complete you need to know how successful it was at fulfilling your expectations for it. This will help you stay on track by returning you to your strategic goals. These metrics need to be as concrete and measurable as possible so that there’s no doubt whether you’ve met them or not. An example of a good metric is an increase in site traffic.

How will the site contribute to fulfilling my organisation’s mission or objectives?

At the end of the day you can build a great site that may provide many benefits but if it doesn’t move you closer to fulfilling your organisation’s mission or objectives then it is little more than a meaningless side-track. Don’t get caught up in industry hype and build something just because everyone else is doing it. Stay focused when it comes to sticking to the overall goals of your organisation.

After asking yourself these questions you can then move on to questions of how you want the site to be implemented, what features it will have, what it’s look and feel will be like, and so on. You will be better prepared to answer these questions because you will know what outcome you expect from each of them.

When planning your website it is important not to confuse implementation with strategy. That is, don’t confuse “Why” and “How”. Ask the why questions to get your strategy clear then move on to the how questions to find out the best way to implement the site so you get the desired result.  It is cheaper to change the plan than the product so the more time you invest into this stage the more likely it is that your site will come in on time and on budget because most of the possible issues should have already been accounted for.

If you need some help thinking through the strategy for your website, our team of digital producers can help you ask the right questions and come up with a plan to help you reach your goals. Contact us to set up an obligation free consultation to discuss your project.

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