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What makes a good website? It depends on a lot of factors. For one, it is determined by its target purpose. If you’re establishing an e-commerce site, it’s good if it brings you more buyers. If you’re opening a portfolio site, it’s good if it helps you get more clients. It may also rest on who’s answering the question. A business owner, a designer and a shopper will all have their own very unique take on what makes a website worth its cost and virtual airtime.
Not being able to have a shared understanding of the purpose and objective of the website is the number one reason why it will be considered a “failure” later on. That’s why proper planning is very important – something both the client and the website design company cannot afford to leave out of the development process.
The following are some of the basic steps you need to include in an effective and efficient website planning phase:
- Identify all the requirements. Sit down, call up or connect online to discuss and write down all the information everyone needs to know about the website.
- Primary purpose or goals of the website
- Target audience
- Branding requirements and standards
- Detailed feature requests (e.g. shopping cart, order form, search box, etc.)
- Site sections (e.g. home page, About page, products pages, blog, FAQ, etc.)
- Document the project charter. Documentation should include project agreements including deadlines and payment and copyright terms. Make sure that roles are clearly defined and options during closure, cancellation or termination are comprehensively spelled out.
- Lay out the design strategy. Explain to the development team how you envision your website; be open to their suggestions and recommendations on how you can have a website that’s as close to your vision as possible. Come up with a creative brief and use it to list your design requirements in the most specific terms possible.
- Plan your content. This is a very important step, and in some cases you may need to work with another team dedicated to content so you can integrate a full-blown plan to the design. If you have done your homework, you will already have a solid idea of the kind of information that your audience is looking for, as well as how they prefer it to be presented. Also, remember that content is not just text. It should also be offered in dynamic forms, such as photos, infographics and videos.
- Establish a hosting and maintenance plan. Make sure all your hard work will be backed up by a solid system. A website should be fast-loading and easily accessible to all target users. There’s an equivalent dollar loss to every second of downtime, so be very vigilant about making your website and website content fresh, relevant and always reliable, all the time.
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