The research phase is designed to get everything about the project out on the table. Specifically, I focus research on your project goals, your company, your clients and your industry. Research sets the framework for the project.
Steps and Purpose to the Research Phase of the Process
The purpose of the research phase is to gather all of the information required to design the right website for your clients, you and search engines. I numbered the steps for ease of reference however they don’t necessarily need to transpire in a linear fashion. Some of the steps may not be applicable to your project.
I need to learn:
- Your goals for the project
- About your company
- About your clients
- About your industry
- What content will be on the site
- Who will be managing the site
Step 1. I Need to Learn Your Goals for the Project
Your goals will help to set the scope of the project. They will also help to define more clearly what specific areas I will need to be research regarding your company, clients and industry.
Sometimes there are many goals to achieve. Prioritizing project goals can be helpful to both organize and accomplish the project. Let’s start with the ideal goals to achieve and work from there.
Depending on your location and preference we will be able to video conference or work by email. In either case I will work through the next stages of the research process with a written copy of the goals for the project.
With project goals articulated I’ll come up with a design that reflects your goals.
Step 2. I Need to Learn About Your Company
Walk me through your company, give me the who, what, where, when, how and why. This information will help in the building stage of your web design project.
Your previous marketing materials will be helpful in maintaining brand consistency. Consistent marketing (where possible) is important to brand familiarity for clients. It also helps to distinguish your company in your industry.
Step 3. I need to Learn About Your Clients
What do the demographics of your target audience look like?
What specifically will your clients be searching for to find you? This will probably be a long list. Knowing the phrases your clients will use to find you online will help us find out how steep the competition is in your industry for these search terms. Knowing how steep the competition is in your industry will help us come up with the best strategy for positioning your web site for visibility to your visitors.
Having a firm understanding of who your clients are will also help to determine what web design will accommodate their preferences. It is important to know what your clients are looking for in terms of content, design and function from your website. Below are a few articles I have written as resources to aid in articulating the right design, content and function for you.
Step 4. I Need to Learn About Your Industry
What is happening in your industry? Are there big changes? What is your industry like online contrasted with brick and mortar businesses?
Who are the major players in your industry? Who are your main competitors? What are the conventions for web sites?
Step 5. I Need to Learn What Content Will Be On the Site
I use a content based design approach. Since your content is what your clients are coming to your site for it follows that your web design be crafted to connect your content with your clients.
Sometimes my clients will already have the copy completely written, other times not. I don’t need every word but I do need to have the gist of what will be on the pages in order to design effectively.
For example if page A is about apples, I need to know what it is about apples that you are focusing on and what about apples your clients will be looking for.
Step 6. I Need to Learn Who Will Be Managing the Site
I will be crafting the back end of your site. With this in mind it will be useful to connect with your site manager to establish goals for the back end of your site.