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What is a Web Site – Part I (Discovery)

Friday, July 11th, 2008 by Mike Cheley

Designing a website from start to finish can seem like a monumental task.  Knowing the process, having the technical skills and executing each phase effectively is key in the creation of a website.  This is the first in a series of posts to teach you the process Graphtek uses to design a website from beginning to end. First you will learn about the Discovery Phase, followed by the importance of Design. Then you will discover how Development works and finish with the Deployment Phase.

The Discovery Phase is arguably the most important phase of the process. During discovery it is not only the web developer who finds out what the website is going to do, but more often than not it is the client who discovers how they really want their website to function.

There are five key questions to answer during the Discovery Phase:

1. What is the purpose and goal of the site?
What is the site going to do? Sell a product or service? Act as a brochure for your business? Be a source of information for your consumer in order to limit calls to customer support?
Definition of Purpose will help direct your efforts in content creation so you know what types of content you will need to manage in the future.

2. Who is your audience?
Are you creating a website for internal users or external users?  What is their experience level?  Are they web savvy or technical novices?
Audience recognition helps you create content to answer the unique questions about your products and services.

3. What are the key indicators of success?
Any business endeavor needs to have a definition of success and failure. This is important in order to determine how well the project is doing after launch. For a commerce site success can be measured by sales numbers. For an information site it could be ‘How many phone calls were generated by the site’. Websites designed for support might be judged by how much support call traffic decreases.

4. How will the site be marketed?
Just because you have a presence on the web DOES NOT mean that anyone will know you are there. You will have to get the word out. This includes writing content that is useful to people, using SEM functions such as SEO and Pay-Per-Click campaigns as well as creating marketing campaigns and other multimedia outlets to get your website in front of web users.

5. What are your design requirements?
Do you already have a logo or color palette? Do you already have marketing collateral to coordinate your image?  You will want to continue these themes throughout your website so you don not dilute your brand and so you remain recognizable to your client.

In the next installment we will discuss the considerations for Brand consistency and user friendliness of website Design.  Make sure you check back in for the latest posts.

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