A large part of what we do here at Avidmode is making websites. This is the first post in a two-part series covering how we view the process and practices of web production.
Each project has multiple phases, one of which is building the website. In the Internet’s infancy, web design was something done by a small group of early-adopters, experimenting with exciting new technology. Now, it is one of the dominant industries in the world, worth many billions of pounds a year.
Starting with research
Most any given move you make with your business starts out with research and the same is true of making a website. This is necessary to ensure that the final result appeals to the right audience; both sales and brand reputation rely on creating something both attractive and appropriate.
As part of our research, we ask the following questions.
Why are we making a website?
What are we trying to accomplish with the website? Everything else stems from this question and should be guided by the answer. A bad reason almost invariably produces a bad website.
For whom are we making it?
What is the audience for the website? This is as crucial to web production as the customer’s measurements are to a tailor. Without it, you may as well be playing darts blindfolded.
It’s important to note that the client is often not part of the audience, in which case their personal taste and requests need to be balanced with what the research suggests will be effective for the target audience.
And turning it into a strategy
Now that we know the answers to the two fundamental questions, we have only one left to answer.
How do we accomplish our goal?
A strategy enables practice by way of information; in other words, finding out the best course of action by examining the marketplace. This is the guide to the final question we need to answer before putting pen to paper, as it were.
For a website, this includes, f.i., detailed information about the target audience, short and long-term goals of the business behind it, aesthetic guidelines for the visuals and content and so on. The strategy’s purpose is to ensure effectiveness and consistency.
What are we making?
This is where the process goes into full production. With code, copy and art we can put together the interactive Internet application we call a website. Depending on what the strategy suggests, this ranges from the simple kind, such as a brochure site, to something more elaborate, such as a full ecommerce site.
Making sure it all works as intended
No website is ever finished. A “finished” website is one that’s been abandoned by its maker or audience and is thus finished in the same way as the bad guy at the end of a predictable action film.
Instead, a website needs care and dedication put into it for as long as it is alive. And, come two years down the line, it’s time to repeat the cycle and make another version, this time with strong research built from the response to the first website.
By then, we also have to find out if either the questions or the answers have changed, as businesses evolve over time.
In the next post
Next Sunday, we’ll take a closer look at the individual practices and how they all contribute to the whole.