There’s no escaping the fact that developing a web design strategy that will support your business to achieve its goals is a sizeable and challenging project. Most business owners could be forgiven for feeling a little daunted by the task but with the right approach, you can produce a web design strategy that will generate the results you need.
If you’ve been through the process of developing a website for your business before, you’ll be familiar with the challenges and drawbacks associated with traditional web design – typically the resources you had to allocate to the project and the costs you incurred were much greater than you originally thought, and the process probably took a whole lot longer than you originally anticipated too.
So how can you make the web design or re-design process a whole lot simpler? Be SMART at the start and develop your web design strategy first.
You may be familiar with the SMART approach to goal setting and strategy development but if not we’ll give you a quick run through. SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound. If you keep this acronym in mind when you are developing your web design strategy, you won’t go too far wrong.
The SMART Approach to Developing Your Web Design Strategy
Step 1: Be specific
What do you want your website to do for your business?
Inevitably, you want it to help you to improve your brand awareness so that you will attract more enquiries and generate more sales, but be specific. What are your actual business and website goals? Do you want to increase your turnover by 10% or 50%? Do you want to generate 50% of your sales from one core target audience or from sales of a particular product range? How can your website help you to fulfil your business goals? You won’t know if your website is fit for purpose until you identify the specific goals that your website needs to fulfil. You’ll also need to identify the specific target audiences that you want to drive to your website i.e. your ‘customer personas’.
Step 2: Make it measurable
Now you have specific goals, how do you measure whether or not you are achieving them?
You’ll need to take time to work through the research and analysis phase of your web design strategy. If you’re redesigning an existing website, you’ll need to do a website audit to collate data and insights from the previous website. These will enable you to identify the lessons learned and set benchmarks to measure the performance of the new site against. How much traffic does your existing site get each month? Where does the traffic come from? How well do you rank in search engines for keywords? What are the most popular pages of the site? Which areas of the site have the greatest bounce rates?
Your strategy needs to identify the measures you’ll put in place to assess the performance of the website against your website goals, and your overall business plan.
Step 3: Achievable
Have a clear vision of your web design strategy. It will detail your website goals and the target audiences you need to reach, the research you’ve undertaken and what you’ve learned from it, the thought processes you’ve gone through to determine the content that the site needs to have, and the action plans you’ve developed to deliver key elements of the site.
Then it’s time to take a breather. Ideas are great but the strategy you’ve developed for your website must be feasible in practice. Stop for a moment and ask yourself, are my goals realistic and achievable? Can the features we’ve identified for inclusion be developed on time and within the budget? Will the proposed content meet our website goals and the goals of our customer personas?
Hopefully, the answers will be yes, yes, yes but if you discover that you’ve taken on too much, now is the time to revisit the strategy and align delivery plans with resources, budgets and timescales. Your website is a launch pad or stepping stone to help you to move forward on your journey, it is not designed to take you straight to your end destination because your goals will change as you meet them, and then you’ll set new ones.
Step 4: Relevant
It’s vital to review the proposed web design strategy to ensure that it is relevant. Often during the creative process of defining the unique features and engaging content you will add to the site, you can get side tracked and focus more on what your in-house team think and like, rather than how your target audiences will think, feel and engage with the site’s content. Remember to keep the strategy relevant – the site is a tool for your potential customers to use to meet their goals. Conduct customer research to identify what their goals are. What products and services do they need most? Also identify your unique value proposition – what is it that you can offer that will be of benefit to your customers? Why should they choose your business to partner with?
Step 5: Time bound
One of the major challenges of traditional web design is to deliver a website to a set timescale. A lot of the time this is as a result of viewing a website as a one-off project in which you try to anticipate all the possible requirements for the next 2-3 years. A smarter approach is to see it for what it should be – an evolving marketing tool that adapts to meet the needs of your customers.
By adopting a SMART and growth driven approach to your web design strategy, you will not be setting a one-off start and finish date for your project. You will set realistic, relevant and time bound goals and action plans for each stage in the process. Matching the development process to your most immediate business goals but also allowing you and your team time to focus on their day jobs.
Do you have a SMART web design strategy is place?
If you’d like to chat more about developing a SMART web design strategy, please contact us.