Business Web Design; Where to Start?
It’s seemed so straightforward. That was until your business idea needed transferring to web design.
Whether your website plans are to support a growing business, rescue a declining one or promote a great new project – getting the idea from the workplace to cyberspace is a whole other matter.
Often businesses start immediately by focusing their web design ideas on other site examples, templates or images. But here at Cocoonfxmedia, we’ve seen how jumping straight into graphics web design can cause your marketing objectives to quickly become lost in translation.
So for a truly successful website, web design should start at the very basics – with stakeholder analysis.
Introducing Stakeholder Analysis for Web Design
Knowing your audience is vital when considering what information should be included on your website and how it should look.
After all, your audience is the people that will keep you in business.
But stakeholder analysis isn’t solely about your website audience. It involves those who endorse and use your website internally and externally.
So to properly inform web design, here are some helpful questions for you to consider and then we’ll look at how your answers could influence the final design.
Who are the stakeholders that need to be considered for your web design?
If you’re already involved in the running of a business you should have a good idea of who your stakeholders and customers are (otherwise you may want to do a bit of research).
Stakeholders can include more than just customers, they can be staff members who will be using and updating the site, partners that you are representing and management staff that require the site to deliver business objectives within an agreed budget.
Your customers can also be quite different, so it helps to profile them into groups depending on their demographics (or firmographics) so that you can identify those with similar needs and which groups should be your priority.
Impact on Web Design: Incorporating the priorities of your most important stakeholders when starting web design will ensure you start on the right path and avoid having to make large changes later. So next, you need to identify the stakeholders who hold the most influence on the success of your web design.
How important is each stakeholder to the success of your site?
Stakeholder mapping is a great way to identify who needs to be considered and consulted during the web design phase. This is where we can use a useful tool frequently referred to as Mendelow’s Matrix; simply add each stakeholder group where you feel they sit in the chart depending on their interest and influence.
Every matrix will be different – but once completed you will need to remember that stakeholders in quadrant A will need to be kept satisfied (possibly in a legal sense) and those in quadrant B will be the ones that will influence your site the most; their needs should definitely be included in any plans or design requirements.
Impact on Web Design: Once you’ve identified the stakeholders that matter the most for your web design, their needs can be incorporated at the earliest stages, especially when it comes to budgets and the function of the site.
What are the needs of your stakeholders?
Now we know that we don’t have to worry about pleasing every single stakeholder, we can focus on those with the most influence over the success of your site.
So now it’s time to ask, what does each priority stakeholder need to accomplish from the website? It can help to list 2 or 3 important information needs of each stakeholder; for example:
For your marketing manager:
- The ability to easily update content
- Easy ways to monitor success and customer conversions
For your target market:
- Solutions to questions and concerns easily available
- Secure sites for purchasing
- Easy ways to make contact
- Resources for additional information to support them to make informed decisions
For your partners:
- Approval for use of logo and information
- An appropriate representation of their brand
For legal bodies:
- Meeting agreed on terms and conditions
- No content or actions that could breach UK legislation
Impact on Web Design: Definite requirements can finally be put into the web design, including how the site will be accessed both by customers and those updating the content, and which additional sections and security are required. This is where professional web designers will include the best approach for usability, accessibility and functionality.
How will your website marketing objectives be met?
With the basis of the web design now in place, it’s time to incorporate your business and marketing objectives – in other words, what do you want the site to deliver?
It may be that you wish the site to generate leads, increase sales or just boost awareness of your brand? It may be all of these, but it’s best to focus efforts on just one at the web design stage.
So if the motivation behind your website is to generate sales, the web design will focus on engaging first-time visitors and making the purchase process as simple and efficient as possible
If your objective is to generate leads, the web design will need to focus on having clear incentives and sign-up details available.
Impact on Web Design: when business objectives are set at the start of the web design stage, they can be built upon so that each decision for content, graphics and layout will all lead towards meeting business goals; making your objectives achievable and easily monitored.
Why will stakeholders use your site?
Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty of web design; user experience.
This is where your knowledge of customer profiles and preferences come in handy.
It’s important to have a website that resonates with the customer; if it’s informal and fun, it may appeal to the younger generation, but that approach may not work if your customers are serious and professional businesses.
So identify why your customers are there.
Are they looking for prices? Or are they searching for product specifications? Maybe they want to find reviews or answers to unique questions. If you fail to include quality content that your customers seek out, you could lose out to competitors.
Once you’ve determined the content and details to be included on your site, it now needs to be displayed in a way that can be easily viewed and navigated through expert web design structures and visuals – but based on the expectations and preferences of your audience.
Impact of Web Design: Structures used for web designs will vary depending on the audience preferences and purpose of the site. The main elements of web design at this stage are to make it as efficient as possible for users to complete tasks, which in turn meets your business objectives. Therefore, web design elements will include:
- site structure: which will mostly be covered during the stakeholder analysis stage and include the function and layout
- visual design: the colours, graphics, images, screen resolution and device access that meets the preferences of your website user
- site navigation: ensuring it is easy for users to locate and travel through the site without getting ‘lost’ or ‘confused’ by including a menu and predictable options such as search, contact or FAQ.
Setting Strong Foundations for Successful Web Design
The next stages following your stakeholder analysis and agreed content are for the production of wireframes or blueprints that show how your site will be structured.
Due to the intricacies of web design, we can’t exactly include all aspects of it in this blog such as coding, search engine optimisation, widgets and so forth. However, you can be sure that you’re on to a winner if you start the web design phase by considering the needs of your stakeholders and incorporating business objectives.
And remember to test, test and test your website design to ensure it is meeting the needs of your users and stakeholders. One way is to simply ask.
Ask your users/stakeholders what they like, dislike or find difficult about the site and then fix it.
You could also present two different web designs called A/B testing to see which users prefer and then use the more effective version.
Great web design is an evolving process, and will require reviews, alterations and adjustments every so often to keep up with changing customer behaviours and expectations – but if you’ve laid the groundwork with web design stakeholder analysis, you can be sure you’ll always be on the path to success with your business website.
For a free consultation on professional web design and development, contact Cocoonfxmedia or call 01543 223074.