Failure to plan is the most recurring problem in web design. Irrespective of the experience of the web designer, the planning stage is often taken lightly by him/her primarily because of lack of foresightedness. Through your website, you become an information provider, while the site visitors are the receivers of that information. When you overlook the planning stage of your website design, it is quite likely that the visitors would not be able to reach to the information you are trying to disseminate through your site.
With millions of websites competing with you on the World Wide Web, it is necessary to come up with a plan that can give your website a distinct identity, making it easy for the target audience to find you and engaging with you. The trick is that you need to overcome the strategy of your competitors through effective market research.
In the absence of a sound web design plan and need assessments, the common results can be something like this- assumption-based decisions by the web designer, more time consumed for communicating and discussing about minor issues, working under pressure due to delays in execution and finalising the task, leading to cost overruns and client dissatisfaction.
For a better understanding of the factors to be considered in the planning stage of a website design, have a look at the following tips and suggestions:
1) Assign roles and responsibilities- It is very important to define roles and responsibilities of each member of the web design team who is working on a particular design. If all of them work together for each and every task required in building a website design, confusion, conflicts and inconsistency is bound to occur. The best thing to do is to determine who will do what. Once the roles are defined, the entire process can be carried out smoothly and in a hassle-free manner.
2) Understand and analyse the immediate needs of your users- When planning a website, what you want from it is not so important. The important thing to know is what the users what from your website. A detailed market research can be carried out in order to understand what all factors are necessary in a web design to capture the attention of the users, engaging them with the site and compelling them to take favourable actions such as signing up, emailing you or pressing the ‘Buy’ button. Understanding what your customers want from you allow you to work out the wireframe, content and other elements of a website. You have to give a positive answer to the questions of the users – Is this website trustworthy? Is this business good enough? Can they deliver what they promise? If they get a positive answer to all these questions, half your battle is won.
3) Work out the site map in the form of information flow- A defined path that your target audience will traverse while on your website also needs to be worked out in the planning stage. How you want to communicate a message must be broken into different sections by developing a site plan that creatively presents the Homepage, Services, Company Background, Portfolio, Client Feedback, Articles/Blogs, Contact Us details. Once all these sections are determined, the flow of the information becomes much more smooth and hassle-free.
4) Watch your competitors and what works for them- Your competitor must be doing something right that users get so attracted to their website. Perform a thorough analysis of the approach your competitors are using in their web design, and try to imbibe the best of those features by adapting them with your web design in a unique manner.
5) Align a marketing plan with the website- A website that doesn’t sell your message, products or services, is useless. Directly or indirectly a website has to work as a gateway through which visitors can transform into your customers. This is possible only when you integrate a marketing plan with the website design. Search engine marketing can be a great way of promoting your website as well as the business.