How to Build the Perfect Website
At Media Genesis, we have been building websites and web applications since 1996, so we have a lot of experience successfully executing web projects.
To build the perfect website, you need to get three things right: Strategy, Design, and Development. Too often we see at least one of these critical elements missing or lacking. Design is always the fun, exciting part, so too often companies will jump directly into what they want their site to look like before putting any thought into target audiences, organization, assets, and functional elements that need to make up the design.
And then there are amazing programmers who want you to tell them exactly what you want the site to do and look like so they can “make it happen.” The problem is, you aren’t sure what your site needs to do without some guidance.
Having many years of refining our web development process under my belt, I will share our secret ingredients for building the perfect website.
Before you launch into designing or developing anything, you need to do some thinking first. This starts by doing a thorough review of your current Website Analytics so you can understand your website’s current activity, which areas get traction and which don’t, desktop versus mobile activity, and a number of other key indicators. These stats can include Google Analytics as well as other third-party measurements that let you know how your site stacks up against your competitors. This data will act as a great baseline in order to measure your new site’s improvement gains.
Then there is Benchmarking. You can learn a lot from what your competitors and other top sites are doing and take the best features from each to leverage in your new website. This is time well spent and valuable lessons can be learned about what you should be considering for your site.
Lastly, you need to make sure you develop Audience Personas so you have a good understanding of the range of visitors to your website and the priority you assign to each of those audiences. In addition to defining the audiences, we like to determine unique messaging for each of those audiences and then desired actions we want them to take on the site.
Pro Tip: At Media Genesis, the decisions we make and the direction we take for a website or marketing initiative are always rooted in data. Reviewing analytics and other key indicators provide insight as to what’s working well and where adjustments are needed.
Now that you have learned a lot about your past site activity, who comes to your site and who else you want to attract (as well as thoughts around site style and features), it’s time to start laying out the plans for your new website. This includes the Main Navigation, Site Map, Wireframes, and the all-important Content that will be on your site.
You need to figure out all of the components that will be on the home page and interior pages so designs can be produced that include all of the needed elements. A mistake we see quite often is when a company produces a beautiful design without having a good understanding for the needed content. Then, later, when the content is dropped in, it doesn’t fit the design. The content and design have to go hand-in-hand.
From your Benchmarking, hopefully you were able to get a good feel for the style of site you’d like – use this to give the designers some direction. Design typically requires several rounds of home page and interior page options, and then refining those to come up with the best option that matches your company’s personality and brand.
Pro Tip: At MG, we like to produce several designs that range from a more safe and predictable option to alternatives that likely stretch the client’s comfort zone.
Pro Tip: Another very important aspect of design is making a site responsive so that it scales on a wide range of devices. We like to create interactive designs (no more static Photoshop comps!) to simulate how a design will change when your browser/device is a different size.
You’ve done the thinking; site architecture and designs are ready to go; now it’s time to start building. There is a lot to consider when programming a website since it’s not just about getting the design to look right; the back end needs to be coded properly for search engines and more efficient coding leads to faster load times.
One key to our development success at Media Genesis is producing a Functionality Document early in the project (pre-Design) that defines how we are going to achieve all of the functional needs of a website during the Development Phase. This includes what the base Content Management System will be able to accommodate, which plug-ins we will use, where custom coding is needed, and how integration with third-party systems will be done.
Pro Tip: Since technology is changing so quickly, you want to make sure you can get projects launched within a 4 – 6-month window while your build is fresh for the current standards. Then, as devices, browsers, and standards change, you can make tweaks to keep your site updated. If your site is larger and more complex, you can consider launching the site in phases.
And now, for the secret to our recipe (shhhh!) …
There is no such thing as a perfect website.
Yes, you read that right. While you want to put time and thought into Strategy, Design and Development, do not get hung up on one aspect of your website to the detriment of the overall project.
At the end of the day, you will never have a website that’s 100% perfect. That’s actually the beauty of digital. You can launch your website, monitor the stats, gather customer feedback, and tweak your site as needed. Your website should be a living, breathing thing – something that is always evolving to be better. By constantly evaluating what’s working and what isn’t, you have the ability to make your website even better than you could have initially planned it.
Ready for a website redesign but not sure where to start? Let us help you begin the process. Reach out by phone at (248) 687-7888 or by email at inquiries@mediaG.com today!