Before you began a new web site design, did you pause for a moment and think about your goals? When you first sat down to consider your plans, did you think about your business requirements? Why do you want a web site? What do you hope to accomplish? How will you do this?
Web Site Requirements
Some example business requirements may be:
1. Increase the amount of qualified Search Engine traffic.
2. Increase the number of new visitors (and perhaps pre-qualify new customers).
3. Increase the number of return visitors.
4. Increase the number of page views per visit.
Some business goals may be:
1. Provide information
2. Enable online sales
3. Provide career information for prospective employees
4. Provide news (blog, newsletter, etc.)
5. Create community
6. Generate sales leads
7. Find new partners
8. Provide information for investors, media, press
9. Showcase proprietary software application(s)
10. Create a popular brand
When evaluating these ideas, you’ll also begin to take notes on how you will reach these goals and meet your requirements. Some will require functional requirements. You’ll need to discuss hardware and performance issues. There are search engine marketing requirements. Other requirements include:
1. Accessibility – standards, or to meet USA and UK legal requirements
2. Different search engines
3. Directory requirements
4. User testing
5. Browser differences
To name a few, but you get the idea. Be sure to write everything down and prepare a Requirements Document. Consider investing inwho gathers your information for you, writes the documentation and then creates test plans and test cases to be sure each requirement is traced to your site goals and that each requirement is met. Test plans include heuristics and steps to prove things like user tasks have been met.
The beauty of being this well organized is that for large projects, sometimes a team needs to be involved. They’ll want to be included on decisions and perhaps “sign off” that certain items have been tested or met. When you roll out your web site, you stand a better chance of making it perfect and customer friendly from the start simply by making sure proved to yourself first that it’s indeed ready for show time!
It Doesn’t Pay to Ignore
I was prompted to pull the above out of my pile of content because I just experienced yet another site launch failure. This time it was a college contest involving parents and young people. When the announcement was made that it was time to vote on student videos, via the Facebook “like” icon, the first thing that happened was the page crashed. Then, the Facebook vote activation did not work. Many unknown votes weren’t counted until they got it fixed. The URL changed a few times until they settled on one working page. For now.
It’s not uncommon for development and marketing teams to become fed up with lack of communication, poor planning and an odd aversion by upper management to listen to the advice of their pro’s. They not only lose their best employees, but lose out by not having web sites that work.
Plan. Talk. Do. Test.
Fix. Revise plan. Talk more.