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The first and most important phase of the website design process is the Planning and Strategy Phase.
Before any actual design work begins, it’s important to lay the foundation for a successful project by developing a thorough plan and strategy.
This phase involves a detailed analysis of different aspects of your business, website, customers and competition. By gathering and evaluating this information, we create a clear vision for your website and develop a plan for success.
The Planning and Strategy Phase sets the stage for the rest of the website design process, ensuring that every step is aligned with your business objectives and meets the needs of your customers.
To start, let’s go over the key parts of this important phase, starting with a Needs Assessment!
During a Needs Assessment, information is gathered to determine what your business needs are and how your website can address them. This ensures your website is built with purpose and direction, as opposed to just throwing together a bunch of words and pictures and hoping for the best.
Your website is supposed to work and perform for your business. In order for it to do this, your business needs must be incorporated into the blueprint.
When we perform a Needs Assessment, here’s what is considered:
Business Goals and Objectives:
First we need to gain an understanding of what your business hopes to achieve with your website. This could be anything from generating leads to driving sales or improving brand awareness.
Key people in your organization should also be interviewed to provide detailed insight on goals from different perspectives. This gives us a comprehensive view and makes sure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives.
User Persona Creation:
The needs and preferences of your target audience should also be identified. This helps customize the website to meet their expectations. By understanding the specific needs of your audience, you can tailor your website’s design, content and functionality to better serve their interests which leads to better engagement.
User personas that represent the different visitors to your website are created. These profiles allows us to determine what each visitor needs from your website so these elements can be incorporated into the design.
It’s not enough to just have a pretty website. Your website needs to resonate with your target audience to achieve the best results.
Once we have completed the Needs Assessment, we move on to a website analysis. This is where we evaluate your current website and analyze its strengths and weaknesses – what’s working and not working.
Understanding how your current website is performing can identify areas for improvement and highlight successful aspects that we can build on, bringing us closer to developing an effective strategy.
This step allows us to gain more detail on the user experience, determine if your content is effective, and identify any technical issues that might be a burden on performance.
Once we have a clear understanding of of all of this, we can create a plan to address the issues and optimize your website for success. This can help increase website traffic, boost engagement, and ultimately drive more business.
Here is a list of what is reviewed during a website analysis:
Design & Layout Review:
During this step, we check out the overall look and feel of your website, including the color scheme, typography, and layout.
We confirm if the design is consistent with your brand identity and identify areas where the it could be updated to improve the user experience.
This helps with increasing engagement, reducing bounce rates, and boosting conversions.
The content (text, images, videos, and other multimedia) on your website is one of the most important factors that influences your target audience and ranking on search engine results pages. Because of this, content needs to be relevant, up-to-date, and engaging.
During this step, we only focus on reviewing your current content and identify opportunities for new content that can add value and attract more traffic. We address content optimization for search engines during a later phase.
Website Performance Review:
It’s important to make sure that your website is running smoothly and efficiently. To do this we analyze behaviors like how quickly your website loads , how fast people leave your website and how often it takes a website visitor to purchase a product or fill out a contact form.
We also dig into data behind your current call-back requests, contact form completions, offers redeemed, online sales and download content requests. You’ll be surprised what we can learn from investigating these areas.
With that said, let’s move on to the next step in our Planning & Strategy phase: Competitor Analysis.
Once your website has been analyzed, the next step in the Planning & Strategy Phase is conducting a competitor analysis.
This step involves researching and analyzing the online presence of competitors in your industry to see what their strengths, weaknesses, and overall strategies are. By understanding your competition, you can develop a clear understanding of your market and how you can compete in it.
For a thorough competitor analysis:
When it comes to creating a website, it’s important to know who you’re up against. Websites that appear in the top positions on search engine results pages (SERPs) are the ones we should keep a side eye on. These websites are your direct competitors and the ones you’ll be competing with to be seen online.
By analyzing their websites and their online presence, you can gain valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t, then use this knowledge to improve your own website.
Taking time to identify your competitors allows us to learn from them.
Assess Strengths and Weaknesses
Based on your research, identify what your competitors are doing well and where they may be falling short. By looking at what they are doing well, you can gain a better understanding of industry best practices and identify potential areas of improvement for your own website.
Similarly, by identifying where they may be falling short, you can learn from their mistakes and avoid making the same missteps. This information can help inform your own website design and marketing strategies, ultimately helping you to better compete in the marketplace.
Identify gaps in the market that your business can fill. Create a unique selling proposition that sets you apart from the competition. Let’s learn from their successes and improve upon their weaknesses.
Now that we’ve talked about competitor analysis, the next step in the Planning and Strategy Phase is website analysis – taking a closer look at your own website and determining its strengths and weaknesses.
Next we figure out the exact features and functionality your website requires. Does it need to work for everyone? Is there a particular group that holds priority? What features and functionality will it take to make it all happen?
If the website is meant to sell products online, it will need an online store that can showcase products, provide information, and allow users to place orders and make payments.
Similarly, if the website is meant to generate leads, it will require a contact form that users can fill out to get in touch with your business. The specific features and functionality that a website needs depends on what you’re trying to achieve and what your users need to be able to do.
Our Planning and Strategy phase involves a comprehensive needs assessment, audience analysis, competitor research, website evaluation, and data analytics. By conducting thorough analysis and research, we can develop a customized strategy to meet the organization’s goals and improve the user experience, leading to increased conversions and revenue.
During this phase, we perform the following check points:
Needs Assessment – We will meet to discuss your organization’s long-term objectives and internal and external influencers. This involves stakeholder and user interviews and is meant to gain an understanding of the business needs the website must address. After the discussion, we will investigate and determine what functionalities are required to achieve these goals. This helps us ensure the website is aligned with the organization’s aspirations and meets the needs of its funders, community partners and customers.
Primary and Secondary Audience Analysis: This involves developing a deep understanding of the different groups of people who will be visiting the website, such as their demographics, interests, and online behaviors. By doing so, we can tailor the website’s design and content to meet the unique needs and preferences of each audience group, resulting in a more engaging and effective user experience. This analysis will also help us to optimize the website’s content for search engines, making it more visible and accessible to potential visitors.
Competitor Analysis – we will conduct competitor analysis and research to gain insights into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, identify areas where your business can improve, and ultimately stand out in the market. This involves analyzing your competitors’ websites, marketing strategies, and customer interactions to develop a comprehensive understanding of their operations. By doing this, you can attract more supporters, volunteers, and donors, ultimately helping you achieve your mission and make a bigger impact.
Website Evaluation – We will conduct a comprehensive website evaluation to assess the performance and identify areas for improvement. This involves a thorough analysis of the website’s home page and subpages to assess their effectiveness, overall usability and user experience. We’ll use various methods including Google Analytics review, heat mapping and other tools to gather data and insights. This evaluation will help us identify any areas that need improvement and provide suggestions to make your website more user-friendly and engaging for visitors. This can help increase conversions and achieve success in achieving your nonprofit’s goals.
Data Analytics – We will review the site’s performance using Google Analytics, analyzing user behavior, such as how they flow through the site, which pages they exit from, how long they stay on each page, and their bounce rate. We will also analyze data over the last year to get a comprehensive understanding of the site’s performance over time. This analysis provides insights into areas of the website that may require improvement and informs our optimization strategy to enhance the user experience and drive traffic to the site.
Conversion Analysis – We will conduct a conversion review to identify the website’s best-performing elements and those that need enhancement. This includes analyzing call-back requests, contact form completion, offers redeemed, online sales, phone calls recorded from the site, or download content requests. By understanding which elements are working well and which are not, we can make data-driven decisions to optimize the website and improve its overall performance. This can lead to more support, engagement, and donations for the organization’s cause.
Keyword Research – We will conduct keyword research to identify the most relevant and high-value keywords for each page, increasing potential for the website to rank high in search results. This involves analyzing popular search terms that are related to Wayne Metro’s services and incorporating those keywords into the website’s content, metadata, and other elements to increase visibility on search engines. By using the most relevant and valuable keywords for your organization, we can attract more visitors to your website who are interested in your mission, which can lead to increased engagement and support. This approach can help your organization achieve its goals, whether that be in the form of volunteer sign-ups, donations, or other forms of support.
During the design phase, we focus on creating a website that meets the client’s branding guidelines and aligns with their business objectives. By identifying necessary functionality requirements and creating a technical specification document, we ensure a streamlined and efficient development process. Additionally, we create flow/process diagrams to map out the user journey and sketched wireframes to illustrate the page layout, enabling us to identify potential usability issues and make necessary revisions early on in the design process.
Branding – We will collect branding logos and colors to ensure consistency across the website and align with the client’s branding guidelines. This helps to make your organization more recognizable and memorable, which can encourage people to become more invested in your cause and stay engaged with your work
Identify Functionality Requirements – We will identify the necessary functionality requirements and create a technical specification document that outlines how we will build the website. This will ensure that the website is built with a clear understanding of the required features and functions, allowing for a more efficient and effective development process. Additionally, this will help to avoid unnecessary delays or changes during development, resulting in a more streamlined and successful website launch.
Flow/Process Diagram – we create flow or process diagrams to map out the user journey from their first visit to the site to their desired outcome. This helps us to identify areas of improvement and make changes that enhance the user experience. By understanding the user journey, we can ensure that the website meets the needs of the target audience and achieves business objectives.
Sitemap Creation – We will create a sitemap that acts as a roadmap for the website, identifying all the pages and their hierarchy. We will also decide which pages to keep and remove and may restructure the top-level navigation to enhance the user experience. The benefits of creating a sitemap include better organization and structure of the website, improved navigation, and easier access to information for users. It also helps search engine crawlers to index the website more effectively, leading to better search engine rankings.
Sketched Wireframes – These rough draft layouts illustrate how content and functionality will be laid out on a page, while considering user needs and journey. By visualizing the structure of the site, identifying any potential usability issues, and making necessary revisions we save time and resources as changes made during the wireframing stage are much easier to implement than changes made during the development stages. Sketched wireframes also provide a quick and easy way to communicate ideas to stakeholders and team members, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and can provide feedback early in the design process.
During the Content Management phase, content is transferred from the old website to the new one through content migration, which ensures that the website retains its established brand voice and messaging. An SEO audit is conducted to identify areas for improvement in the website’s search engine ranking, and on-page SEO optimization is implemented to increase user engagement and conversion rates. Additionally, high-quality stock photography is selected to enhance the website’s design and user experience.
Content Migration – Content migration involves transferring existing content from the old website to the new one. It helps ensure that the valuable content that has already been created and optimized for search engines is not lost in the transition. Migrating content also ensures that the website retains its established brand voice and messaging.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Audit – Here we take a snapshot of where the site currently ranks on Google. The SEO audit provides a baseline for the analysis of the new website’s SEO performance, and it guides future content development by identifying areas for improvement.
On-Page SEO – This involves optimizing the website’s individual pages and content to improve search engine ranking and drive more traffic to the site. This involves improving the wording and structure of certain website elements such as page titles, meta descriptions, headings, and images to enhance user experience and drive more engagement and conversion rates.
Stock Photography Selection: This involves choosing high-quality images from a library of professional photos to use on the website and represent the brand and message of the website. Stock photography also helps enhance the overall design and user experience of the website, as well as increase engagement and retention of website visitors.
During the Website Development phase, a lot of essential tasks are performed that help in setting up and launching the website. Hosting and Firewall Setup ensures the website is protected from security threats, CMS and Plugin Installation enables the addition of new features and functionality to the website, while Google Analytics and Google Search Console Installation help track and analyze user behavior, identify potential issues and optimize the website’s search appearance. Overall, these tasks result in a website that is secure, efficient, user-friendly, and optimized for better search engine ranking and increased traffic.
Hosting & Firewall Setup – We will setup hosting and firewall protection for the website, protecting it from potential security threats, such as hacking attempts or malware infections, which can result in downtime and data loss and making sure website stays up and running smoothly. Proper hosting can improve website performance and speed, leading to a better user experience.
CMS and Plugin Installation – We will set up the content management system and adding relevant plugins to the website enabling the addition of new features and functionality to the website.
Google Analytics Installation – We add a tracking code to your website, allowing you to track and analyze user behavior, such as the number of visitors, their geographic location, and how they interact with the website. You’ll gain insights into website performance, identifying areas for improvement, and making data-driven decisions to optimize the website for better user experience and increased conversions.
Google Search Console Installation – This tool will allow you to view how your website is performing in Google search results, identify potential issues, and optimize the website’s search appearance. It also provides information on crawl errors, search queries, internal and external links, and other data that can be used to improve the website’s search engine optimization.
During the Testing phase, we ensure that the website functions perfectly across all browsers and devices, including desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. This results in a website that is accessible to all users, regardless of the device or browser being used. User Acceptance Testing is performed to identify any issues or bugs that may have been missed during the development and testing phases, ensuring that the website is ready for launch and provides an optimal user experience.
Cross Browser and Device Testing – we test that the website works perfectly on all browsers, such as Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge or Firefox, as well as across devices, including desktop, tablet and mobile (iOS and Android).
User Acceptance Testing – We gather a small group of users to test your website and gain feedback. The main goal of is to identify any issues or bugs that were not caught during the development and testing phases, and to make sure that the website or application is ready for launch.
Website Launch – We publish your website and make it available to the public, increasing your online presence and improving brand recognition and customer engagement.
Client Training – During this step, we provide you with basic training on how to use WordPress and make common updates like adding new content, images, and video to the website. This training empowers clients to make updates and changes to their website independently, saving time and money on ongoing maintenance and support. Additionally, it ensures that the website stays up-to-date with fresh, relevant content, enhancing the user experience and improving search engine rankings.
During the Maintenance phase, regular checks and updates are performed to ensure website security and performance. CMS and plugin updates are regularly installed to prevent security threats and improve website functionality. Security checks and content updates are also done to maintain website relevance and user engagement. Regular strategy meetings and maintenance reports provide insights and transparency for continuous website improvement. These activities ultimately result in a secure, up-to-date, and optimized website that meets user needs and drives business success.
CMS & Plugin Updates – CMS and plugin updates involve regularly checking for available updates and installing them to keep the website’s content management system and plugins up to date. This helps to ensure the website’s security and prevent hacking attempts. Hackers often target websites with outdated CMS or plugins as these may have vulnerabilities that can be exploited. By keeping everything up to date, potential security threats can be mitigated, and the website can continue to run smoothly. Additionally, updates may also provide new features and functionality, improving the website’s performance and user experience.
Security Checks – We do periodic reviews of the website’s security features including firewalls and malware scanners. These checks ensure that the website is up-to-date and secure, protecting it from potential hacking attempts, malware infections, and other security threats. Regular security checks also help prevent downtime and data loss, ensuring the website stays up and running smoothly. By identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the security system, security checks can improve website performance, speed, and user experience, leading to increased trust and loyalty from website visitors.
Content Updates – Content updates involve making changes to the existing content on a website, such as updating information, adding new pages, or changing images. The benefits of regular content updates include keeping the website fresh and relevant for users, improving search engine rankings through the addition of new content and increasing user engagement and time spent on the site. Content updates can also help to showcase the latest products, services, or company news, demonstrating that the website is actively maintained and up to date. Regular updates can also attract returning visitors and encourage new visitors to explore the website.
Strategy Meeting – A strategy meeting involves a discussion between our team and the client to review the website’s performance and plan for future improvements. During the meeting, we will review Google Analytics metrics to gain insights into user behavior, traffic sources, and other key performance indicators. This information is used to make data-driven decisions and optimize the website for better results. Strategy meetings will occur every three months until the end of the contract.
Maintenance Report – This documentation involves providing you with regular reports that detail any updates made to your website’s security patches, software version upgrade releases, and platform maintenance upgrades. These reports also include Google Analytics metrics that outline the website’s performance and visitor behavior. This gives transparency and accountability in website management, as you’ll be informed of any changes made to your website’s backend. You can also use the Google Analytics metrics to make informed decisions about your website’s content and design.
Additional SEO work – We will perform additional Search Engine Optimization work to improve search engine ranking involving optimizing various aspects of a website to increase its visibility and ranking on search engine results pages. This can include content updates or creation, handling broken links, and implementing other SEO best practices such as keyword research and optimization, meta tag optimization, and image optimization. The necessities would be based on the results of the SEO audit.