Before even starting to think about web design or the actual structure of your website and certainly before choosing colors, photos and other superficial elements your website must have an agreed goal – a purpose for being designed. This article will explain the importance of having clearly defined and recorded goals in place before web design work is even started.
It may seem like an obvious point by all websites are commissioned to be built by a web designer with some goal or set of goals in mind. Some common purposes for having a website designed are:
To create enquiries about a product or service
To sell products or services online
To build up a mailing list of email addresses
To create an online community of website members
To distribute documents or other files
Your reasons for having a company website designed may be different, or more likely are among the common purposes above. The point to grasp here is that whatever the purpose of having your website designed – there should be some reason for it and that reason should be recorded any agreed with your web designer before work even starts.
If you were having an extension built onto your home would your even dream of letting the builder start laying bricks before you had seen a detailed plan of what was going to be built and had agreed what would be involved in the work? Having a website designed is no different what so ever. In order for your website to be a success you need to agree with your web designer exactly what the website is intended to achieve on behalf of your business and then every resource available to the designer can be used to drive the web design work forward. The objectives that you have agreed can then serve as a guide to the web designer and are a fundamental and inbuilt part of the project.
For example if your goal from the website is to create enquiries about a product of service (as lots of website design goals are) the web designer then knows that an easy method of contact needs to be displayed on each page. This will influence his decisions about where to put calls to action on your pages and then lead him to ask questions about what information you need to collect from your online enquiry forms e.t.c.
It is also very, very important to record your agreed goals. Before I even produce a web design specification I make sure that I am aware of the goals that the client requires from the website. I then make sure to specify these goals right at the very start of the web design specification. This means that the purpose of the project is clearly recorded in the website specification and forms part of my contract with the client.
Another advantage of having clearly defined and recorded goals is that you can use them to drive review meetings with your clients. You can periodically arrange project review meetings which assess the websites performance against the agreed goals. You can then propose possible solutions which may correct any shortcomings with the website. In this way the web design client and the web designer himself are working together in an efficient way to achieve a common goal.
Having clearly defined goals is an essential part of any web design project. Without clearly defined goals your web design project has no real direction and has no real chance of fulfilling its potential. As a web design client you must take the time at the beginning of your project to effectively communicate your required objectives to your web designer. A responsible web designer you should always make sure to understand the intended goals of the website design project before making any other web design decisions.