Having a new website commissioned is an exciting time for your organisation. It is often the first port of call for your clients and new contacts and their first interaction with your brand so it’s imperative to get it right. It can be a minefield thinking of all the things to consider and often without the luxury of one key person to manage it all. In the public sector particularly web resources can be a vital integration with core services. Here are a few things our production and development team would suggest considering when it comes to putting together a brief for a new website.
It sounds likes an obvious one but it’s vital to understand where your website fits within your wider business strategy. Do you want your website to help promote your company/organisation brand, serve a purpose such as encourage clients to engage with your services in a new way or fill a gap between face to face provision or share data with other front line services? Alternatively it could just act as an information site. Thinking about these things will help you decide what type of site you require and the size of it.
Are there similar websites in your sector that you like/dislike and why? Have a look at what your competitors are doing and think about how user friendly these sites are. Think about the amount of activity on each page, the design and colours as well as how easy it is to navigate from one part of the site to another.
This comes back to knowing why you are commissioning a new site. Firstly consider the pages your website will require such as ‘Home Page’. ‘About Us’ page and ‘Blog’ (if you’re having a blog feed who in your organisation will update it?), this gives you an idea of the size of your site. Secondly consider what additional features you might require (i.e. a contact form, email submission, social media integration, polls, forums) based on what you want your users to do on the site.
A CMS (Content Management System) allows you and your team to log-in and update text and image content accordingly. This is a good way of maintaining fresh and interesting content. Think about who in your organisation would take this on and ask your digital provider for a full training session.
One of the most important factors is to remember you’re developing a website for your end users and audience so need to consider their requirements. The key things to consider are your audience demographics – what type of devices will these people be using? (this will help you decide if you need a responsive or mobile site for example), where will they be using the site. One of our Developers Lee says “it’s counterproductive to design and create a site that does lots of impressive things such as animation, scrolling backgrounds and keyboard interaction just because you use a desktop PC in the office when in reality your end user will be viewing the website on a mid-range smartphone”. This highlights the importance of knowing your users and target audience fully and also relates to browser issues. Ultimately there’s little point trying to develop the site to work on particular browser when the end user doesn’t use or require that browser.
To get the most from your website you will want to consider other services such as integrating with social media, using search engine optimisation to bring more people into your site and developing relevant content to keep on the site and engaging at a higher level. These are all things you can ask your digital provider about when commissioning a new website.