If you’ve worked with a web design agency before, you’ll know that most of them have a certain way of doing things. When John and I started Inner Circle we wanted to have an agency that did everything you would expect – but with a lot more added value. We felt that there were many gaps in the process that were not being taken in to account by the vast majority of providers out there.
Although we haven’t been operating long, our clients have enjoyed a high level of success – which we feel is down to what we do differently. So to give you a flavour of what you could expect as an Inner Circle client, here are a few of the things that we’ll help you with.
1: Help you know your market.
Understanding how people behave on line is crucial to success.
- How do people look for, research and use the web to help them choose the types of product or service you sell?
- How many people are looking online locally, nationally or internationally for your product or service that you wish to market yourself in?
- Who are you up against?
- Where is the opportunity for you to stand out?
- What resources and effort will it take to give you the best chance of success?
These are questions that any professional web design company should easily be able to help you answer. Along with your own knowledge about your business, this first step will provide insights necessary for a good online & search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy, as well as some common sense logic about an appropriate budget & effort.
A great example of how this influences base strategy is how you choose your domain names.
Lets say you make widgets locally in Christchurch, New Zealand and wish to sell or market them in Australia through a website. How will understanding online behaviour help you choose what your domain name will be? Domain names have an ending, .com, .co.nz and .com.au.
Which one is best for you?
.com is an international domain ending. This allows you to set up and target regions and countries and is well recognised around the world.
.co.nz is a country based domain ending and in Google the regional and country targeting is fixed to New Zealand. Culturally its trusted by Kiwis.
.com.au is also set to target a country, Australia, but generally requires an Australian ABN to purchase and is trusted by Australians.
The point here is that your choice of domain name will directly affect your ability to market in varying locations. It will also have cultural relevance. Without understanding online behavior and how the market works, how can you make the right decisions? Web design is not all about beautiful visuals. Web design is a very technical discipline – the first step of which begins with understanding online behavior. Understanding this online behavior has a much wider impact than the example given. It determines your chances of success and helps avoid costly mistakes.
2: Define your needs before choosing the CMS or technology you will use.
This may appear obvious, but very often clients ask web design companies for a Magento ecommerce website or a Drupal brochure site or a WordPress blog. When we question this further, we find those decisions have often been made in haste rather than breaking down the requirements.
A good web design company will ask, “What do you want to do?”
The answer could be sell my services, products or tickets; solicit enquires or donations; or any number of things.
How many products do you have? This is a great question as the impact of selling or marketing online 250,000 SKU’s compared to just half a dozen base products, has a tremendous impact on the size, performance and nature of your requirements. At the large end, your requirement will be a robust product database and an automated method of setting it up, whereas at the lower end, a lighter database with manual entry will suffice.
Listening to and understanding what you want to do, will allow us to define your needs properly and recommend systems and technology that is right for you.
3: Plan it out
Structure, content and sketches are three key areas that define a good web project strategy. When online behavior is understood, the structure and flow of your new website can be crafted to meet your needs and the market you wish to target.
From a structure or site map a content plan will be provided which will guide you to draft, or have drafted, good quality messaging. This messaging will accurately describe the experience customers will have with your company, as well as the products and/or services you offer. Images will also need to be taken or bought, with appropriate licenses to use, which accurately reflect your company.
Sketches or wireframes will also be used to make sure that the website elements fit together and flow in a way that your website visitors will find easy to use. These sketches and wireframes are not designs, but influence the design to be perfectly matched to your needs.
Wireframes will be presented in a way that shows the journey website visitors will take from finding your site to leaving it. We will use these sketches to plan and demonstrate how your website will work and interact with visitors. You should expect to be very involved with this aspect and to change them as necessary to get it right. It’s normal to have 2 – 3 alterations at this stage.
4: Innovative visual website design
This is the step that some folks actually start out with which we believe is a common mistake. Without doing the appropriate work before hand, the design is likely to be ill suited to your requirements.
We generally present design concepts on screen so you can see them as a visitor would on desktop, laptop or mobile phones. This is important as nice print outs always look good but getting it to look great on a screen is very different from holding up some glossy paper. It shows any flaws in the design and gives you the impact your visitors will have.
Testing is crucial for many reasons. Most designers will talk about testing on different devices and different browsers. This is a necessary part of the design and development of a new website. Without it you are in trouble.
Inner Circle has additional processes in place to test at each step. Testing your website designs, or variations in design, is possible even on a tight budget. A good example of this, is taking to the streets with tablets, phones and boxes of chocolate. This would involve stopping people in the street who fit the age and gender profile you wish to target and asking them some questions in return for a box of chocolates. Examples of the types of questions asked would be: Which site they prefer? What they think a site is all about or even What would they add? This has worked very well for ratifying designs in a truly objective manner. Inner Circle likes to think that we will be creative not only in design, but also in finding ways to maximize your chances of success.
There are a whole bunch of behavior’s that make a good website company stand out. Unfortunately, it’s often only after a bad experience that you find this out. Get it right first time and talk to us about your next website or application.
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