Know your market – Your first job, or that of you design agency is to explore and gain and deeper understanding of your audience. What are they comfortable with? What are their expectations? What excites them? And most importantly what will make the buy. Once you understand this you can develop a requirement specification. This should go through a process of refinement during the very early stages of brainstorming. It’s a crucial step to developing any website – don’t overlook it, ask questions and really drill down to ensure you understand what it takes to win over your audience. As designers we always put ourselves in the position of the user, it’s a great technique and will ensure you maximise the value of your audience.
Developing a web strategy – This is where many design agencies cut corners. Formulating a good strategy is about understanding your business and the mechanics of how it needs to work online. For example, developing an online shop to sell alcohol is completely different to selling tickets for a theme park. You need to consider stock management, legal requirements, security, validation and so on. It’s imperative that you sit down and thrash out all the factors that come into play. A good agency will tease this out of you and build an application that is efficient, robust and scalable. This can of course evolve but the fundamental strategy in terms of marketing, management and so on should all be firmly understood and identified early on.
Content – Dare we say it? Content is king, there. It’s important for your audience and for search engine optimisation. You need to structure your information according to what your audience likes, determine the tone and present it in a way that engages and delights them. Always, always, always ensure it’s relevant and useful.
Testing – The simple fact is you can’t do enough testing! Hit your website every way you can using every scenario imaginable. You only get one chance to impress, a broken link or miscalculation will annoy and lose you business. Ensure your developer tests, links, navigation, browser compatibility, security, accessibility (W3C) and so on. This needs to be considered at every stage of the build. A good website design agency will provide a number of releases at key points in the development.
Customisation & functionality – Being average doesn’t cut it. You need something that make your website better than the rest, there’s too much choice and your competitors are only a click away. Try and look at what others are doing and improve on it, could your ticket sales be slicker? Can you offer loyalty discounts? Is there something that will make your website bespoke? By customising your website and offering, you make your audiences decision easier, you compel them to buy from you.
Jump about, wave your hands do whatever it takes to be different – How many websites are there that look the same? How many are there lurking in the depths of the search engines? A well designed site will stand out from the rest, it will excite, it will engage and it will win over the competition. When other webites zig, you zag, don’t follow in someone else’s footsteps, branch out, be different and be successful. Got that? Now, how does your website perform on the search engines? Here’s where you need to stand out more than ever, if you’re not found you will not succeed. Ensure SEO is built in from the outset, study Google adwords, social media and ensure it’s part of you strategy from the outset.
Do this and you will stand every chance of success.