When it comes to web design & development, a project without a plan is just an idea. Even though there might be a temptation to skip the research & discovery stage and jump right into planning and design, exploring the project is critical to building a website that’s an excellent fit for the company’s goals.
Help Us Help You: Exploring Your Project
In the discovery stage, Branders Pro does the necessary research to fully scope and plan your entire digital project. It is always the first step in the process of developing an effectively performing deliverable, which helps us gain a detailed understanding of your company, you as a project owner, and the end-user that will be interacting with your website. Before starting to build your site, we aim to build a complete picture of the landscape in which your digital product sits, which typically includes an industry and competitor analysis, your current website performance review, and web analytics. Our team works to gather as much information and get answers to as many questions as possible to grow an in-depth understanding of the challenges ahead from both the user’s and business’s perspective as Branders Pro is tasked with overcoming them; and we do it by shifting this perspective with our effective, original solutions.
The better we study the business objectives of your new website, your industry, and your market niche, the better we’ll be able to help you. That’s why, during this stage, we need your help to help you realize your digital project to your highest expectations.
Lines of Research
When we’re talking about a narrowly focused field website, which is virtually every website, we aim to make your online presence so compelling to your audience that they find it obvious that your company is the one they’re going to choose. Branders Pro works to position your business at the top of any comparison in terms of your website so that when a potential customer finds your business online among the multitude of others, your site immediately puts them at ease, confirming right away not only that they’re in the right place, but that your business is going to meet their needs.
To get to that point, we make the most of the research in the discovery stage because it practically determines how the subsequent development process will look like.
In our website building process, we take two lines of research. The first one investigates the project from the company’s perspective. At this point, bringing together stakeholders from across your business is instrumental in receiving helpful inputs and insights that ensure from the outset that objectives and priorities are properly shaped and agreed upon. As a rule, everyone in your company, from top management to customer-facing staff, can assist by providing relevant information or suggestions that may be useful in creating a really outstanding website that will positively impact your business processes, customer journey, and thus outcomes.
Your New Website as a Reflection of Your Business
During the research & discovery stage, we will be asking you questions to help us understand the needs of your business with regards to your digital project. The following are the basic ones and get more specific depending on the project.
- What does your business offer?
- What’s the concept, project, service, or product your new website is intended to promote?
- Who are your competitors?
- What sets you apart from your competition?
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What is the goal of your new website?
- What are the business goals that must be achieved through the new website?
- What are the aspirational targets?
- What are the different needs of the various stakeholders across the company with regards to the new website?
- What is your vision for the website?
Your New Website as a Customer-Centered Experience
Although your website is intended to promote your business, contrary to your expectation, its focus shouldn’t be on your company or your services – but on your customers.
That’s why our second line of research analyzes the project from the website user perspective. User research is an essential step in website building since it provides an insight into the needs, wants, attitudes, expectations, and frustrations of your existing and potential customers in terms of both your company’s market offers and website browsing experience. Thus, user research allows us to not only create a smooth browsing experience on your new website but also present your product or service in a way that speaks to your online audience, making your website visitors feel like you alone understand their needs and can flawlessly accommodate them.
By gaining user profile information, we can create a truly tailored, user-centered experience on your new website that will meet the needs of your customer persona. To construct such a profile, you need to think about your ideal customer/website user and answer the questions like
- Who’s your new website for?
- What do your online visitors expect to find or do on your website?
- Is your website’s primary aim to inform, sell, or amuse?
- Is your new website simply going to convey a brand’s message, or is it going to be a part of a wider business strategy?
- How should your new site be inspired by or different from those of your competitors?
- What are your plans for the website in the future?
Your New Website as an Epitome of Industry Best Practices
Competitors are another research aspect ensuing from the investigation of your company’s perspective, which deserves a separate mention. While researching your business industry, our professionals closely analyze industry best practices with regards to website architecture and functionality, taking every opportunity to improve upon the existing ideas or elegantly solve the user frustration points that haven’t been properly addressed by your competition. In general, we look at these key considerations:
- Is there anything on your competitor’s website that is outright wrong?
- What are they doing so well that we don’t see any point in competing with?
- What are they doing well, but we can do better?
Discovering The Best Development Strategy for Your Website
In essence, the most important task at the research & discovery stage is to get a clear understanding of your new website’s purposes, the main website-related business goals you want to reach, and the audience you’d like to attract. Your answering the above questions with as much detail as possible helps us develop an effective and coherent strategy for further project management.
Different types of websites use different functionality, which means that different technologies should be implemented based on the website’s purposes and objectives. This is very important to realize as it emphasizes the immense significance of the pre-development data and how it can safeguard you from spending extra resources on dealing with unforeseen difficulties like design changes or the addition of functionality that was not originally envisaged. Branders Pro always takes time to interview the stakeholders involved in the project as well as conduct extensive user and industry research to get a clear picture of the intended outcomes before proceeding with the designing and development process.
Every minute our team spends researching, inquiring, discussing, and planning will save us hours in the actual design and development and you – the whole project setting off in the wrong direction.
Research & Discovery Process in Outline
A meticulous process for building a website is a road map to success. It clearly defines the actions to be taken, allowing for efficiency and effective time management. This is how Branders Pro approaches the research in the discovery stage.
- Business needs assessment – taking a strategic approach to assessing your business needs with long-term objectives, internal and external influences in mind.
- Competitor and industry research – researching your market segment and having discussions with the project stakeholders.
- Web analytics review – using Google Analytics to study your current website performance and user behavior.
- Site goals assessment – analyzing what functionalities are required to address your customer and business needs.
- Conversion analysis – reviewing your current conversion elements, such as contact form completion, online sales, call-back requests, content downloads, etc.
- User profile creation – constructing a typical user profile to inform the design process and enhance the user experience by addressing existing user frustration points.
- Low fidelity wireframes – sketching the new website’s outline to illustrate the content and functionality layout; mapping out the user journey.
- Functionality requirements – identifying the website’s technical specifications.
Vision Is the Starting Point
Crafting the vision of your website’s future in the research & discovery stage is the starting point for planning on how to get there.
Your creative brief and brand attributes, along with our industry analysis, user profile, and website assessment, are the main tools during the initial discussion of project goals and requirements. Hence, the research & discovery stage is the foundation of the website creation process that helps:
- Accurately validate the project requirements based on evidence, not an assumption.
- Achieve a balance between your business goals and user experience.
- Understand user expectations through their exposure to the websites of your competitors.
- Clearly define the project in terms of cost and timeframe.
- Explore ideas and ways of their realization, including the introduction of new or different technologies.
During the Planning stage of web design & development, we create a sitemap and a prototype, organize the website content, and determine the placement of call-to-action buttons. This will be the topic of our next blog in the Building a Website series.
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