The 4 crucial pieces to planning your web project

Michael Gabrian

by Michael Gabrian on 05/05/2017

The most foolish thing that you can do while starting to build a site or app is not plan. From huge projects to day-to-day tasks, we plan things out. What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the day? Where do you need to be and when? Can you squeeze in any other tasks?

By creating a plan, we have a way to measure our success at the end of the day and map out the best way to complete the project.

"Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now."

- Alan Lakein

Set goals

I'll always start the calls with clients by asking why we're doing the redesign. Sometimes the answer is something along the lines of boosting conversions or maybe trying to rebrand and creating a site that reflects it. There's one answer I hear all to often:

"We just want to make our site look nicer."

The problem here is that there is no way to measure this goal. Creating a beautiful site is easy, but how do we actually track our success?

I'm sure you've heard about SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely. Creating SMART goals for your web project is crucial in finding success. Some example could include:

  • Increase conversions by 10% within the first 6 months of our new site being live
  • Bring in at least 3,000 new visitors each month
  • Publish 4 new quality blogs each month (if your goals are marketing focused)

Identify personas

You have your goals in place and you're ready to build your site. Next we need to look at who we're building the site for. Just because it looks great to your team and ours doesn't mean your audience will. We need to identify your personas.

Who is coming to your site? What will bring them to the site, encourage them to convert into leads and, ultimately, purchase from you?

We want to be a specific as possible. Who are these people? What are their job roles and what are they responsible for? Where do they go for information? what challenges them? There are hundreds of questions that could chisel out a strong persona. Just really build out a story of who they are.

Research and test assumptions

Rather than beginning blindly, it's important to collect some user data to support any decisions made in the first launch. Let's say you have a alright-looking site now that has a good amount of traffic with a decent conversion rate. Maybe you don't need a full redesign, maybe you can build on top of it with some minor tweaks.

Doing this helps to avoid investing time and money into a feature that actually won't have a large impact. Will adding this new feature actually help achieve your goals?

Map the user's journey

Now that you know who you're targeting and how they'll find you, you can start mapping out the buyer's journey. Journey driven design is that final bang where you really optimize your site's flow.

Imagine each persona and how they will arrive to your site. What is the best way we can get them to achieve your goal? This is focused on optimizing your conversion path by creating journeys that your persona will be inclined to follow.

To conclude

The strategy and planning phase of your web project is probably the most important. It set the direction your project will be going in and allows you to track and measure your success as you move forward.

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