Web strategy? What?
Web Strategy, sounds like a made up term but I assure you, it’s not. So what is it? Wikipedia defines web strategy as “… a long-term strategic business plan indicating how to create and develop a company’s online presence adhering to the business development strategy.”
When working with an agency to have your new website created you will be working with someone in a strategy role even if it’s not in their title. This “web strategists” job is to start you on the path to success for your new website. Making sure to gather all of your organizations website needs/requirements and asking the right questions along the way.
Why is web strategy / a strategist important?
Let’s use this example you may have seen before. I gave two adults one direction: Draw me a house. That is all I said. I mentioned nothing about the size, color, number of levels or windows, etc.
As you can see from the two images above, the results I got are very different. The house on the left has a large bay window and shutters. The house on the right is smaller, has landscaping and the door knob is on the left instead of the right. I could put myself in the shoes of a client and complain that this is not what I wanted. For example, I could say “But I wanted a two story house,” or “Hey, where is my wrap around porch?” But, because I didn’t give clear direction and no one bothered to dive deeper into my needs, the overall product was less than desired.
The point being made, as I am sure you have already concluded, is that without proper blueprints for your website and a deep dive into what will work for your organization and your users; the outcome could be a website that is a waste of time and money.
Where do I start?
There are many steps between conception and the launch of your brand new website. A good place to start is your current website. A thorough audit to determine its strengths and weaknesses is a must. This should help you identify what you as the organization want to keep, what works well and what could stand to be improved for your users. Many of these questions can be answered using a few technical tools to perform a link check and website crawl, as well as a careful review of your analytics.
But one of the first conversations as it pertains to users and website navigation is how to go about funneling the right users down the right path. Let’s say for example your website is for a venue. You have different user types. Attendees, show organizers/planners, exhibitors and sponsors, just to name a few. When a show organizer visits your website they are not as interested in your upcoming events or sponsor information. Try to put yourself in the mindset of each user type and display the information in a way that allows them to find what they are looking for as quickly as possible.
Using the image here as a sitemap example. As a show organizer I can easily see the menu button that applies to me right away, “Plan.” And underneath “Plan” are all the pages and content that apply to me and provide all the information I need about your venue and what it can do for my show.
Is the strategy part of my new website now over?
Nope. Far from it! There are many other areas to dive into from integration and sitemaps to technical documents. All of this and more coming up in part two!