A website is a must for every business in today’s economy. While it’s true that you can build your own website, it doesn’t mean you should. At Digital Wake, we believe that an informed client is an empowered client. We don’t push a product or service at you; we listen, ask questions, analyze, and then make recommendations. Over the next few weeks, we will post articles that break down the website design and development process. Our experts will share their insight into what it takes to make an effective site and answer some of the common questions associated with website design and development. In this first article, we’re going to look at the website needs analysis.
What is a Website Needs Analysis?
When a client tells us they need a new website or a site redesign, the Digital Wake team seeks to understand the why behind the need. The needs analysis is actually a multi-step process. Following is a summary of the different ways in which we analyze the client’s needs and requirements in order to develop an accurate website design plan.
The first step in the website needs analysis is to identify why a new site, or a redesigned site, is necessary and identify all the ways the site will be used and by whom. To ensure we don’t overlook an important requirement, we ask a lot of questions. “To make sure we recommend the right approach and include the right services,” advised Michael Bound, Managing Partner at Digital Wake, “we meet with each client and ask questions about their goal for the site, what they want their site visitors to be able to do or find on the site, what type of content they want on the site, and their long-term business goals.” He continued, “We want to develop a site that not only meets today’s requirements but can also grow with the business. The answers to all these questions impact both the design and long-term usability of the site.”
Here are some questions we typically ask at our initial meeting with a new client:
- Who are your potential users of the site?
- How will the users arrive at the site?
- What does the site need to accomplish?
- What specific functions are required on the website?
- Do you require statistics tracking and Search Engine Optimization support?
The next part of the website needs analysis involves evaluating the client’s current site.
Current Website Evaluation
The client can usually tell us what they don’t like about their current site. We use their feedback as a baseline of what to address with the redesign; however, we also conduct a thorough evaluation of the current website to determine what works and what isn’t working. We look at the current content and the current functionality of the website.
Content Analysis. In addition to a thorough review of the client’s identified requirements, the website needs analysis includes a review of all content on the current site. The intent of this review is to distill the content to the primary areas important to the identified audience. This content review process allows Digital Wake to streamline access to content that the client has identified as important to each user while enhancing the over-all user experience. This content review is critical as it, along with identified requirements, drives the overall site structure, user navigation, user interface (UI) design, SEO approach, and content design and delivery.
Functional Analysis. Digital Wake also reviews the functional requirements from the client to determine the best technical solutions to meet those requirements. Depending on the client’s business, additional functionality requirements may include event management, social media integration, online form submission, on-demand language translation, accessibility options, etc. It is important to identify these solutions upfront to ensure that they are considered during the development of the site structure and UI design.
Design Document Development
The outcome of each website needs analysis is the design document. This document defines the content and functionality for the site, details the overall technical solution for the site including a list of any necessary plug-ins, and includes a revised site map outlining the new website structure.
Digital Wake presents this document to the client and reviews the results of the analysis as well as the recommendations. Once the design document is approved, we move into website development. Make sure to check out our next article that discusses the website development process.