Website Strategy, Design, Development

Your website should be a results-driven, strategic investment of time and money.

With a solid strategy, your website can be a serious marketing force. To design a website that achieves your goals requires a web design & development strategy, and business development mindset. You need to use the right people and skill sets for the job, and a technology solution appropriate to your goals.

Executive Summary

1) Website Strategy

  1. 3 Website Strategy Rules
    1. Adopt a Business Development Mindset to Identify Inputs and Outputs.
    2. Use the Right People and Skill Sets for the Job.
    3. Time and Money —Understand the Opportunity & Variables.
  2. 6 Critical Website Design Areas —Understand how each Area Applies to Your Website Goals.
    1. Website Strategy, Design, Development
    2. Website Usability and Trust
    3. Mobile/Responsive Website
    4. SEO Website Design
    5. Website Speed & Scalability
    6. Website Content Management

2) Website Design

  1. Website Design Skills and Disciplines

3) Website Development

  1. Website Development Skills and Disciplines
  2. 3 Website Development Options

Website Strategy

A solid website strategy ensures you get the most out of your investment of time and money. It also helps you forego lost time, wasted money, and frustration; both yours and everyone involved in the process.

Start with a solid website strategy that has been designed to achieve your website goals.

Website Goals

  • Increase in leads… B2B or B2C
  • E-commerce sales
  • Advertising revenue
  • Increase in new/repeat visitors, users, customers
  • Increase page views per visit
  • Decrease visitor bounce rate

Website goals are easy to identify, they also need to be supported by a well-planned website strategy that focuses on the primary areas of the multitude of web design factors at your disposal.

Website Strategy Objective

  1. Identify which website design areas to focus on, and
  2. Understand why these website design areas are significant, then
  3. Align the primary website design areas to your website goals.

3 Website Strategy Rules

1st Rule of Website Strategy — Adopt a Business Development Mindset

A business development mindset takes into account all areas and skills necessary to achieve the desired business outcome: a well-planned website that serves your target audience, and achieves your business goals.

Business Development Mindset for Web Design & Development

  • Marketing —the message being communicated through your website needs to be crafted to the “voice of the customer.” Expectations of the customer need to align with your service and product offerings, sales techniques, and delivery methods.
  • Technology —choosing the appropriate technology solution that accommodates your website goals can be fairly straight forward, or quite complex. Have a firm understanding of the available solutions, and who should be consulted for input on a needs assessment.
  • Sales —ensure the sales team is involved up front so their experience and knowledge is thoroughly applied to crafting the marketing message.
  • Service-Delivery / Production —you rely on them to deliver on the promises made to the customer. Be sure your marketing and sales messages align with what you sold and how you sold it, according to customer expectations.
  • Costing and Finance —dollar figures need to be discovered and documented for the costs of the website build, maintenance, and growth.

2nd Rule of Website Strategy — The Right People and Skill Sets for the Job

Websites are created by people who have various valuable skill sets to achieve your website goals. Good professionals understand their strengths and value, and seek assistance from others when their skill set needs to be supplemented.

Use the Right People for the Job

  1. Match a person’s valuable skill set to the appropriate parts of the project.
  2. Understand the risks of not properly assessing skill sets:
    1. A person with excellent skills could be assigned to a portion of the project that does not align with their skill set, causing confusion, discontent, and likely poor results.
    2. Missed opportunity to use a valuable resource to achieve your goals.
    3. Unnecessarily alienate people, or hurt their feelings.
    4. Budget and timeline overruns.
    5. A website that is not designed to serve you or your target audience.

Skill Sets for Web Design & Development

  • Team leader
  • Copywriting
  • Information Architecture
  • Conversion Funnel
  • Graphic Design
  • User Experience Design
  • Mobile/Responsive Design
  • SEO Design
  • Front-end Development
  • HTML, CSS2, CSS3, JavaScript
  • Browser Compliance
  • Back-end Development
  • PHP/SQL (and other)
  • Server-stack Configuration
  • Linux, NGINX, Apache, MySQL, PHP
  • Content Management System
  • Drupal, Wordpress

3rd Rule of Website Strategy — Time and Money

Understand the opportunity and variables. Make the commitment to design a well-planned strategy, one that aligns with the amount of time and money you are comfortable investing. It takes the right people and skill sets to design and build a well-planned website.

6 Critical Website Design Areas

Focus on the most important factors of website design to achieve your goals:

1) Website Strategy, Design, Development

Start from the best place possible by adopting a business development mindset and follow a solid website strategy. Use the right people and skill sets for the job, and an appropriate technology solution.

2) Website Usability and Trust

Visitors stay on your website longer and take more of the actions you want when the website design, format, structure, and marketing message, make it easy for them to navigate, browse, and search.

3) Mobile/Responsive Website

You need to make it easy for visitors to view your website with any device type: PC, laptop, mobile phone, and tablet. You will increase leads, sales, website page views, and visitor satisfaction.

4) SEO Website Design

Your website will be built using Google's SEO recommended best-practices for the first two pillars, which sets you up for succeeding with the third pillar, your website content/copy-writing.

5) Website Speed & Scalability

Time is money, especially when it comes to website speed. Simply put, the slower your website pages load, the faster visitors abandon your website.

6) Website Content Management

Drupal and Wordpress website software packages are world-renowned free (open-source) website content management systems. They facilitate the management and publishing of your website.

Website Strategy Summary

The objective of your website strategy is to plan how you will achieve your website goals. To do so, you need a good understanding of the opportunities, and risks; otherwise, you stand to lose time, money, and patience with the process.

  • Understand the 6 critical website design areas.
  • Adopt a business development mindset.
  • Use the right people and skill sets for the job.
  • Identify the areas required to achieve your website goals.
  • Understand how success is to be measured.
  • Understand the opportunity and risks of time and money.

Website Design

The term “website design” is usually used to describe the design process relating to what is visible from within your website browser (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari). In this context, website design can be referred to as “front-end design.”

Website design encompasses multiple disciplines and skills in the building and maintenance of a website. You want to match the responsibility of delivering each area of the website design to an appropriately skilled individual.

Website Design Skills and Disciplines

  • Web graphic design —expertise in graphic design of websites.
  • User experience design —website usability focused on visitor ease of use and satisfaction.
  • Mobile design —graphics and front-end development.
  • Copywriting —content authoring specifically for website audiences.
  • Wireframe(ing) —page schematic and website framework design.
  • HTML, CSS, JavaScript —markup and front-end design skills.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) design —front and back-end content-focused SEO design.

Website Design Summary

Your website design objective is to design a website that allows your target audience to easily perform the functions necessary to achieve the goals related to their visit to your website.

  • Design a website that effectively communicates with your visitors.
  • Supports easy browsing and searching from all device types: desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile phone.
  • Encourages repeat visitors.
  • Converts visitors to users, leads or paying customers.

Website Development

The term “website development” usually refers to the back-end programming of a website. The back-end is the behind-the-scenes area of a website which includes the unseen functions and templates that support the display, loading, and user activities visible in your browser (the front-end).

It is important to match the development responsibility of you website to an appropriately skilled website developer(s).

Website Development Skills and Disciplines

  • Programming proficiency —skill levels commensurate to the goals.
  • Programming efficiency —timely and well-documented programming.
  • Excellent communication skills —a top priority for any developer.
  • Documentation —to ensure developers can understand (and remember) how code was written, so they can contribute and edit as needed.
  • Programming languages —various languages can be used to build websites.

3 Website Development Options

You have three primary options for website development. Option one is to build a 100% custom website. Option two is to build a website using an existing content management system. Option three is to use an existing content management system with custom modules developed on an as needed basis.

Option #1 — 100% Custom Website Development

A web developer can build a website from scratch, giving you a 100% custom and unique-to-you website. A web developer can custom build a one page website, or a complete Content Management System (CMS). Most of the time this is not the preferred method.

When to Consider 100% Custom Website Development

  • You have a single page website and do not mind editing the HTML to update the content.
  • You do not intend to grow your website with more pages, and multiple page layouts.
  • Your background, business goals, and team experience demand a solution that can not be effectively accommodated by an existing Content Management System.

Advantages to 100% Custom Website Development

  • Website code can be developed to your exact specifications, omit all non-required code, and use the programming language of your choice

Disadvantages to 100% Custom Website Development

  • Time Consuming + Cost prohibitive
  • Cost can be 10X, 100X, or 1000X more than using an existing Content Management System.
  • Lose out on the time and experience invested by tens of thousands of developers who work on existing content management systems.
  • Forego hundreds of thousands of hours of development time invested in existing content management systems.
  • Knowledge and expertise of a 100% custom website is shared only by the individuals who built it. To grow with outside developers requires overcoming a learning curve to familiarize themselves with the custom environment.

Option #2 — Content Management System

A website content management system (CMS) is an administrative back-end and user-interface that has been developed to facilitate a user-friendly environment for the administration and management of website and its content. Your entire website can be developed using the existing code of a Website Content Management System (CMS).

There are many open-source (free) and proprietary (paid) Content Management Systems. There are a handful of top contenders for open-source and proprietary CMS. Drupal and Wordpress are world-famous open-source (free) content management systems. Learn more about Drupal and Wordpress.

Advantages to Using an Existing Content Management System

  • Significant Savings of Time + Money
  • Developers already familiar with a content management system can more quickly make progress with the development.
  • Developers work with widely accepted standards and practices of the existing CMS.
  • As the project grows, easily bring on more developers already familiar with the CMS.

Disadvantages to Using an Existing Content Management System

  • Generally speaking, there are no disadvantages that are not outweighed by the advantages.

Option #3 — Content Management System + Custom Development

You can use an existing content management system, and have custom modules developed to augment and extend the CMS’s performance and capabilities to any degree you desire. Learn about the Drupal and Wordpress content management systems.

Website Development Summary

Your website development objective is to build a website that facilitates the achievement of your present website goals, and accommodates your future growth.

Learn, Aim, Fire, Repeat

Websites are a strategic investment of time and money, similar to a key employee or executive. Your website is an asset that grows and changes over time. Your website strategy objective is to understand what it takes, and build a website that is designed to achieve your goals.

Start from the best place possible.

Once you have a solid website for your starting point, the ongoing maintenance and growth of your website is more easily managed.

By this point, you and your team will have developed a skillful eye to systematically gain further improvements and better results. Learn, aim, fire, repeat!