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Website Success

Developing (or re-developing) a website can be a tremendously exciting task. But the road from inspiration to successful implementation is not always obvious and may even seem daunting at first. However, if you intend to get it right, there are some key steps that can help ensure success for even the most inexperienced web-master.

Have firm ideas about your brand, your vibe and the messages you want your website to communicate.

This includes developing the graphical elements of the design as well as your website content and any rich and or interactive content that may be appropriate and appreciated.

If you do not yet have a well developed brand, start thinking about your core message. What, in a nutshell, is your organisation / mission / website about. If you had to describe it in just a few words (five or less) what would those words be?

This leads neatly on to thinking about the sort of user experience your website must provide. Go and sit in your favourite coffee shop or under your favourite tree and start thinking about the sorts of imagery that convey this experience. Make a list of colours, pictures, videos & other websites or website features that express this as well as ones that you just like for some reason. Go with your gut feelings and really use the force on this one.

Then, work out what pages you want and what their keywords, descriptions, titles and URLs will be as well as the copy and accompanying images. There are some basic pages that should usually be included, like an about us page, a contact page and if you are planning on running an online store, terms & conditions. When dreaming up page ideas try and engage your audience as much as possible. Catch their eye, stir their emotions and don't forget to call for their action.

Of course your website itself may be providing services as well. This could be online information, online bookings, online sales or just about anything else.

Have a good strategy for how you are going to maintain your website so you can engage your audience on an ongoing basis.

The point at which a website goes live is not the end of the process for the successful web-master. It is the beginning. From this point you will want to be identifying your target audiences and reaching them in the most effective ways you can. Although this work is very much 'post implementation', it is important to identify any requirements you are going to have of your website before development begins. Are you planning on having a mailing list for email campaigns? Will you be using social media and if so, do you want facebook, twitter, reddit or any other social media functionality integrated in your site? Will you be writing a 'blog?

Manage your website development project with the appropriate tools.

A traditional approach to a project might look something like this. Gather all the requirements and agree on what needs to be done. Plan the work. Work the plan. And as if by magic, the job is done.

But in reality things never go quite like this. Even the best laid plans based on the most thorough catalogue of requirements are subject to change (apparently this applies to mice as well as us humans). And it helps to have a framework to manage the changes.

One recommended framework for doing this is the project approach and includes a number of elements and revolves around a fantastic device that project managers sometimes refer to as a 'Flexibility Matrix'.

The Flexibility Matrix

A successful website development project has three key dimensions that need to be managed.

  • Scope The website must have the desired personality, functionality and availability to internet users (via the search engines or other traffic sources).
  • Time The website must be delivered within an appropriate time-scale.
  • Budget The website must be delivered within an appropriate (agreed) budget.

The concept behind the Flexibility Matrix is that any change in one dimension, will inevitably lead to changes in the others. So increasing the scope of a project requires either more time, or greater budget (or possibly both). Shortening the time-scale means less of the original scope can be delivered. So at the beginning of a project, the successful web-master will need to decide which of these dimensions is most flexible, which is not very flexible, and which should remain fixed.

Once your Flexibility Matrix has been set, the other elements of this framework are;

  • A mutually agreed catalogue of initial requirements, a baseline time-scale and a baseline budget (The Proposal Document).
  • A process for gathering and assessing new or more detailed requirements or other issues, for assessment (based on the Flexibility Matrix) and agreement about how each will be dealt with.
  • A process for communicating the ongoing status of the project in terms of it's current scope, time-scale and budget.

Get the right help

The internet is a wondrous thing with layers upon layers of technology required to produce the desired user experience. No one person could possibly understand it all from the wires and chips to firmware, servers and operating systems, to databases and scripts to networks and browsers to images and copy and finally to products, organisations and the needs of the end user. We all need help from someone at some point.

I have expertise in delivering effective websites and web-marketing strategies, so if you need help in these areas, call me for a chat. If you need help with wires or chips, talk to an engineer. If you want to know about the feelings of the user, talk to your customers!

Any journey can be a pleasure or a chore depending on who you travel with and travelling with someone who has at least a rough idea of the road ahead can really help. For more information or a chat about your website development Contact Me