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Formulating a Website Design Strategy

Fred R. David, a business strategy author, defines strategy as
“the art and science of formulating, implementing, and
evaluating cross functional decisions that enable an
organisation to achieve its objective”, Strategic Management,
Prentice-Hall (1985).

My definition of Website design strategy is “the process by
which to optimise your website to take advantage of the
opportunities in the external environment, whilst addressing
the threats that are likely to impact on it”.

Formulating a website design strategy is very important to the
success of your website. By laying out your strategy at the
start, even before choosing a domain name, can save months,
even years of redesign and wasted promotion efforts.

Even if your site is already established, there are a number of
basics that need to be questioned to ensure you are heading in
the right direction. The answers to these questions will form
the basis for your web design strategy.

1) Firstly, what is the purpose of your site? Is it a marketing
tool, a shopping cart to enable online sales, or both? What are
your objectives?

2) Secondly, what are your strengths and weaknesses? if you
were in your visitor’s “shoes”, would you buy from the site and
what would make you return?

3) Thirdly, how is your income going to be generated? Will it
be from advertising, from site membership fees, from affiliate
programs, or from selling your own product? What are your
capabilities and how will you use them to maintain a
competitive advantage over your rivals?

The answers to the above will determine your content strategy
and this in turn will have implications for all other aspects
of your web site design.

1) THE PURPOSE OF YOUR SITE

Most websites serve one main purpose – they are either
informational or they are e-commerce sites.

Informational sites usually make their income from membership
fees, advertising, commissions, or selling at the back end.

E-commerce sites usually make their income by selling a product
or service.

It is often difficult to combine both into the same website
because an informational site needs to provide unbiased
information about the topic of the website, while an e-commerce
site needs to generate sales and use direct marketing tactics.

The main objective of informational sites therefore needs to be
to maximize your site membership, or your subscriber list. Site
usage could be regarded as the internet’s equivalent of
intangible assets.

The more information the site gathers about its subscribers,
the more valuable the list is because it allows marketing to be
targeted at specific groups of people, defined by where they
live, how much they earn, whether they are male or female, etc?
However it is also VERY important that any subscriber list is
entirely opt-in because they want information from you.

Your objectives must therefore be: 1) Clear focused and
specific 2) Measurable 3) Feasible and suitable for the
industry you are focusing on.

2) IN YOUR VISITOR’S SHOES

Always put yourself in your website visitor’s “shoes”. If you
were the website visitor, what would keep you on the site. What
makes your site sticky?

By doing this you can easily identify your strengths and
weaknesses!

The more focused your site it, the more likely you are to
satisfy your visitors requirements, and the more likely they
are to return and use your site in future.

The layout and navigation of your web pages are going to affect
the usability of your site. It is very important to get these
right and to know which web technologies to use. Your website
layout and navigation can make or break your site.

Even more important is your Content strategy because you need
to provide content that is likely to be targeted at your
visitors. Are you providing the content your visitors are
looking for?

3) HOW YOUR INCOME IS GENERATED

Informational sites usually generate their revenue from
membership fees, advertising, commissions from affiliate
programs and making sales to their members or subscribers using
off-the-web marketing, for example through a newsletter or
direct mail. Selling is the secondary objective.

The main objective of an e-commerce site is to promote an
effective marketing message and to make the buying process as
easy as possible. Creating a marketing base is the secondary
objective. They usually have two types of customers,
transactional and relational.

The purchase decisions of transactional customers are
influenced by short-term reasons such as price, convenience,
and/or availability.

Relational customers have built up a relationship with the
business usually through previous contact. Their purchase
decisions are based more on the customer relationship that has
been built up, quality of support, and knowledge of the product
or service or brand.

You need to identify where your market is and what your
capabilities are. You need to identify what gives you a
competitive advantage over your rivals.

Once you have done that you will be able to generate qualified
traffic, turn the traffic into qualified leads, and turn the
leads into customers.

Your website strategy is therefore critical to the success of
your site. It must be focused, to ensure your site is visible
and attracts qualified leads, and your web pages must be usable
to ensure you can convert your traffic.

Source: High Quality Article Database – 365Articles.com

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