Website design must be a user-oriented collective effort. This means that, when possible, the design process must include participation of a group of representatives from the business or organization and their beneficiaries, with the common goal of obtaining maximum satisfaction among users.
Thus, the design process must mainly focus on the user and must take place in close collaboration with a representative panel of users, at a brainstorming session, for example.
The main goal of the design phase is to analyze all of the needs and then imagine the contexts for use. Analysing needs falls into two categories:
- The needs of the organization, corresponding to a goal strategy
- The needs of the users, corresponding to a target strategy
Before starting any website project, it is necessary to go over the website's goals. For a business or organization, this involves analysing how the website will help the organization meet its own strategic goals.
It is a good idea to make a list of the website's goals and define the operational and quantifiable criteria that will allow the organization to measure whether or not the desired goal was truly met.
A website is generally intended for a category of users. Precisely targeting the user type in question will allow the business or organization to establish a user profile and thus focus the content on a specific type of information.
Thus, it is necessary to think about the type of information that target users are likely to search for and try to determine their main questions and the type of responses they are expecting to receive.
This step can be done by interviewing a business's clients or an organization's beneficiaries, or, in the case of a personal website, through conversations with the website owner's friends and family.
Competitive Intelligence consists of determining a website's main competitors, analysing how they serve their clientele and finding any possible weaknesses in order to offer a service that fills in the competition's gaps. This involves performing a competitive analysis, based on one business sector, that will be used to draw up a comprehensive picture of the existing offer and the needs to be satisfied, in order to establish a website that offers something more to future visitors.
Writing up scenarios involves a business or organization putting themselves in the user's shoes and imaging the different possible use cases for a website.
Specifications are an all-encompassing contractual document that allows the client to specifiy his needs to the project manager (service provider). Even if a service provider is not hired to build the website, writing up even a small list of specifications in order to formalise ideas is still useful procedure for a business or organization.
The planning step consists of:
- making a list of the people working on the website project
- dividing up the tasks according to skills
- establishing a schedule for each task
- figuring out the the cost of the project by calculating the time spent by each person and multiplying it by their hourly (or daily) cost
A website project team generally includes the following jobs (one person may have several jobs):
|Project Manager||Person at the core in charge of the overall management of the project.|
|Multimedia Project Manager||Person at the heart of the project who is in charge of managing the technical teams (developpers, web architects, etc.).|
|Chief-Editor (editor or section editor)||Person in charge of establishing the website's written content in order to best meet Internet users' expectations and increase traffic.|
|Web Journalist||People in charge of writing the content. A web journalist's job is very similar to that of a traditional journalist.|
|Developer (programmer)||Person whose role it is to design and develop the dynamic parts of the website. This is a technical job that is modeled after that of the multimedia project manager.|
|Artistic Director||Person in charge of coordinating artistic creations in order to translate the client's ideas into a multimedia dimension. The artistic director must monitor all of the artistic teams in order to guarantee the website's visual harmony.|
|Computer Graphics Designer||Person who designs the website's graphic elements (illustrations, diagrams, logos, etc.).|
|Web Designer (or often layout artist)||Person who designs the graphic side of the website.|
|HTML Integrator||Person who designs website's pages and puts them online. They incorporate the articles and graphic elements into the pages.|
|Ergonomist||Person in charge of designing a usable interface in order to maximize a site's usability and establish user loyalty. This job can very easily fall under one of the other job titles.|
|Network Administrator||In most cases, network adminstration is provided by the host. However, if the website is hosted on the organization's premises or the website is built on a large network architecture, the network administrator will be in charge of its correct operation, both in terms of service quality and security.|
|Moderator (sometimes mod)||This is a job that is essential to the website. Its main objective is the smooth operation of the exchanges in the discussion spaces (forums, chatrooms). Moderators intervene by deleting, modifying or moving messages that conflict with the website's ethics and beginners guide. The moderator tries his or her best to answer user questions. And finally, he or she can start discussions or polls in order to create a spirit of community.|
When designing a website, the project must be analyzed in terms of budget and time, as well. The project must include long-term plans, i.e. the organization must anticipate the means necessary for creating the site but also for maintaining and updating it. As such, if the website is not regularly updated, the company's brand image may suffer rather than increase in value.
During this step, the initial goals can be reviewed and prioritised in order to choose, depending on the budget and deadlines, only those that are most important.
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