Web Site Pre-Production: Foundation for Success

It’s not always easy to add Web analytics to a Web site after it’s live.  Sure it’s possible,but why spend the extra time, energy and effort when planning for Web analytics as part of the initial project can avoid future costs?  And while we’re on our soapbox about planning ahead, we’d also like to add a pitch for integrating both highly usable customer experience principles and search engine marketing into the project design before any coding starts.Web Site Pre-Productions: Foundation for Success

So let’s take a lesson from the movie industry’s playbook.  When creating a epic movie or short documentary, savvy directors with a successful track record expend much effort in the pre-production stage – storyboards, mock-ups, screen tests, extra skills training for their actors.

Just as anyone can pick up a video camera and shoot a movie, anyone can build a Web site. But just as a savvy director increases his or her chances of success through careful pre-production, so should you if you want to deploy a Web site that meets your organization’s goals and delights your Web visitors.

Always start with the end in mind. What will success look like? Define your conversion goals and success metrics. Make sure you know your target audience. Next, here are the three pre-production dimensions worth exploring holistically with your design team before you begin to code or build your site:

  • Search engine marketing (SEM).
    Will your customers be using search engines to find your Web site, your message, your offer? What metrics truly indicate successful SEM?   Consider both organic search engine optimization and paid search marketing.
  • Customer experience.
    Typically measured by task success, content relevance, usability and accessibility, do remember to find out if there are any relevant considerations for look and feel. Measure how your site’s aesthetics are contributing to a strong customer experience.  Use personas to describe objectively the high quality visit you want your customer to experience.
  • Web analytics. You’ve defined the metrics you need for demonstrating success. Make sure your Web site is designed to deliver those metrics, work with the tool you have selected and support the analytics process to get you the metrics you need.

Why are these three dimensions important to consider as a whole before building?

  • Avoid sub-optimization.
    These three dimensions require balancing. Overemphasizing one of the three in isolation can impede the other two, leading to Web site that’s sub-optimized overall, falling short of its intended goals.
  • Shortcuts now create problems later.
    Attempting to shoehorn these dimensions into the project either mid-way or post launch is typically expensive, and often impossible, due to budgetary or technical limitations. You might have to wait until the next Web site re-launch. Your design team should discuss these three dimensions and build them into the requirements specifications that are sent to the Web site or application builders.

To discuss further how to optimize these pre-production dimensions for your Web site, contact us.

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