What's the most important?
What's the most important thing to
consider when redeveloping my website?
This is a question that we are asked
all the time. However, this is a big question, that does not
have a short answer.
We suggest that approach the website
redevelopment with two intentions in mind:
There are a number of things that you
can do that should help to reduce the frustration and
feeling of lack of control that so often accompanies the web
development process, and ensure that the end result serves
your business as you intended.
A business website has only one primary
objective: to meet or help meet business goals. The
secondary objective that should always be taken into
account: to support user tasks – through the provision of
content and functionality - which in turn helps to meet
business goals. So throughout the process keep this
uppermost in your mind. At each decision point in the
development ask yourself: “How will this help to meet
business goals? How does this element or function enable or
support task completion?”
Feasible and realistic
Ensure that the specific objectives you
set for the website are feasible and realistic. Can what you
set out to do, be achieved with today’s technology? Can
your targets actually be met? Carry out research and be
honest with yourself about the possibilities.
There's no BEST way
Remember that there is no BEST way.
Lots of directors and others in decision making positions
ask us for the best way. It is always subjective, and there
is no proven best way, rather we advise our clients to focus
on the better way: ‘is this option better than that’, and
more importantly why.
Keep on track. Ensure that you begin
with a clear strategy and do not rush this stage.
Get expert help, it is more cost
effective to pay for consultancy at the beginning, than have
a poor end result. Dealing with remedial work or the need
to change business processes to accommodate the website
outcomes (such as increased customer support calls) is
expensive, can waste a lot of time and ultimately you find
yourself back where you started.
SEO is not an afterthought
There is no magic bullet to increase
your search engine results. Build search engine
optimisation (SEO) into the strategy and consider it at all
stages of the development process. Don’t treat it as an
afterthought and provide for this activity as an ongoing
part of your online promotion campaign. Avoid anyone who
says they guarantee to get you high placement in Google.
This can only be achieved in the short term, techniques
which get you to the top quickly, will get you banned just
No great ideas or fancy facilities
Try not to be tempted along the way by
great ideas or fancy facilities that come to your attention
or might even be suggested by your developers. The same
question as before applies: how will this help to meet
business goals or support user tasks. In particular, don’t
be swayed by comments or advice from those who do not
understand your objectives or who are not in a position to
make a judgement. By constantly moving the goalposts or
adding features, all you do is delay the project
completion. So assess the suggestion, decide if it might be
useful in the future and if so, put it aside for phase two.
Design is a problem solving process
The designer’s job is to communicate
YOUR message, so don’t leave it to them to figure out what
that message is. Conversely, don’t contract a highly
educated and experienced designer and then tell them how to
do their job! Design is a problem solving process,
combining effective visual communication with the
development of a functioning system that all types of users
can interact with. It is important to appreciate that by
its nature this is always subject to compromise. Avoid
being too prescriptive in what you specify as this can
interfere with that process. Also, if you find yourself
saying: “Can you move that up a bit,” or, “Make that a bit
bigger,” then you have probably overstepped the mark and you
should justify why you are making these requests, as in any
system, meddling and tweaking never produces good results.
Of course if you hate what they produce, say so, but you
should still be judging it against business objectives, such
as effective brand communication, it should never just be
your opinion, even if it is your business.
Accept that you have to invest
substantial resources to get the best expertise. Web
design, development and internet marketing is not
‘job-and-finish’, it is an ongoing process so choose your
development team and other support wisely, you will be
building a long term relationship. It can even be helpful to
think of them as an external department as opposed to a
Carry out user testing. Although it
can seem expensive, it is the only way to really find out if
your website is actually offering a good user experience.
If this is clearly beyond your budget, opt for heuristic
evaluation where a website usability expert inspects your
website against established usability guidelines. This can
be cheaper, quicker and easier, and therefore affordable to
carry out periodically, throughout the development process.