Most people want to jump in and start designing a website when they think: Hey, we need a new website. That is really the fastest way to make sure you are going to burn up all of your time, bust your budget and burn out. (I honestly didnt plan for all of those to start with B.)
At LimeRed, designing is one of the LAST things we do in a build process. Why? Because design options are limitless and designing for the sake of design is a huge waste of time. Design solves a problem. Design communicates. Design is the visual amplification of a brand. So first we need to define the problem, develop a communication strategy and differentiate the brand. (All Ds! I must be onto something here.)
Our process rolls out like this: Discovery > Blueprints > Prototype > Design & Development > Training. Our sites get designed in the Design & Development phase and we collect lots of information along the way to inform the design product: We do a branding intake, create moodboards and build online style tiles. More on those bits in another post.
Since design solves problems, before we can start designing we need to define the problems we want to solve. Many times during this process new things pop up that we didn’t even think about. We uncover these problems in the Discovery phase of our process. We look at analytics, user behaviors technology, brand standards, organizational goals and a lot of other things to get a sense of where a site is now and where it needs to go.
Its a lot of work, but you can do some if it yourself by answering a few questions before you put on your design hat. Your answers will help draw lines around the project and zero in on what is necessary, relevant and realistic. A little upfront planning goes a long way.
Here are some questions to ask and answer when starting your own redesign:
- How will we define success?
- Who manages the website? Does anything need to change in our internal process?
- What are the online communications systems in place and how can they work together? Do they need to change?
- What makes this organization different? Who are we?
- What does the competition look like and what are they doing?
- What technology do we need to use or add to make this site a success?
- Who are this sites users, what do they want, how do they use websites?
- What are the current analytics saying?
- What are our organizational pain points? Are there internal systems that need to change?
- What is the content strategy?
- What are the goals of each page and/or section?
- What does the new site map look like?
- What are the foundational SEO elements we have to work with?
- What does the brand and style direction look like? Does it need to be updated?
- Which Content Management System best fits into the overall system?
- Do we need a CRM system? Which one? How does that integrate with other systems?
- Its a lot, I know. But answering the the tough questions now will save you loads of time later in the project.
The next piece of a web project is creating a plan to build the site. Ill talk about this more in my next post: How are we ever going to build this site: the Blueprint Process.