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Planning a Web Project The Front guide to getting started

A W E B S T R AT E G Y, D E S I G N A N D T E C H N O L O G Y S T U D I O


Planning a Web Project Getting Started One

About Your Organisation Identifying key issues your project should address

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Your Customers Focusing on who your website is really for

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Your Current Site What do you have at the moment?

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Your Vision Thinking about what you could have in the future

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Your Project Team Getting the right people involved from the start

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What’s Next? Using your project brief to get started


We admit it. Making websites is a bit daunting. Maybe your website is looking a little tired. Or maybe you’re starting from scratch. And of course you want your new site to be Attractive, Engaging,

Social and Full of Life. But how do you make sure that your new site is a success? Do you know how long will it take to create? And what should you expect from the project and the people delivering it? it

WE HAVE SOME IDEAS This planner will take you through the initial steps of planning plan a web project. If you complete each section, you should have all the information you will need to write a really informative project brief. brief This, in turn, should help your organisation make the most of the opportunities on the web. If you decide you need outside help, a good brief will enable potential suppliers to understand your needs, present more insightful proposals and quote more accurate costs as well as allow your project to start more quickly. The planner was written by people who make websites: s: us. u Since we’ve done quite a few, we’ve figured out what tends to work well and have distilled this experience into the planner. So here’s what we suggest: •

First, answer a few questions about you and your organisation.

Next, think a bit about your customers cu – who they are and what they need.

After that, take a close look at your current site – what it contains, how the information gets there and what is/isn’t working.

Switching into forward gear, get the ideas flowing by thinking about what your website websi could be like in the future. future

Finally, think about your team, team who should be involved and any project constraints you already know about.

It won’t take long to read, but we suggest that you allocate a few hours to think about the questions it poses and seeking out the answers. Feel free thinking to get in touch with us if you get stuck.. The time you spend on this foundation f now will pay off many times over during your project!

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PROJECT PLANNER

1 About Your Organisation Most projects begin with a tremendous amount of creativity and ideas for improvement. However, not all of these will be realistic, achievable or equally important. This is because quality design and true innovation depend on real insight. By building a clear understanding of your organisation’s key issues with all those involved in defining the project, you can: •

challenge any assumptions or internal views;

define what makes your organisation unique and tell that story in your project brief;

tailor the project scope to your business needs to ensure you create real value; and

recognise wider opportunities to use the web.

USEFUL RESOURCES Writing a Design Brief, Design Council http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/resources-and-events/business-and-publicsector/guides/finding-and-working-with-a-designer/writing-a-brief-and-gettinga-project-started/ A Brief Guide to Briefs, Dare [NB: read the speaker notes] http://www.slideshare.net/ewarwoowar/creative-brief-workshop Topic: creative briefs, Quora http://www.quora.com/Creative-Briefs What are the most important things to define in a website project briefing? Quora http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-most-important-things-to-define-in-awebsite-project-briefing Questions during project definition, Happy Cog http://cognition.happycog.com/article/questioning-the-authority

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1.1 Write about your: •

Background & History

Purpose/ Vision

Products/services and how these create value

Geographic Markets

Your Strategy

Your Competitors

Brand Story

Visual Identity

ABOUT YOUR ORGANISATION ORGANISAT


PROJECT PLANNER

1.2

WHAT ARE THE KEY BUSINESS ISSUES?

Work to identify: •

Your key business issues

The impact these issues have

Any trends you feel are relevant

Competitive pressures affecting your organisation

What innovations you see as relevant to your organisation

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1.3 Work to identify: •

How the web can support your goals

What your web objectives and measures of performance are

Whether your team possess the resources, knowledge and attitudes to support these objectives

The specific resources you will need

The social platforms, tools and channels that are appropriate and sustainable for your organisation

HOW DO YOU SEE THE WEB W CONTRIBUTING TO THESE HESE ISSUES?


PROJECT PLANNER

2 Your Customers Your website is your story. But like any good storyteller, you need to understand your audience. The more detailed your picture of your listeners is, the better you can tell a story that matters to them in a way that interests them. How do you build this picture? Think about some of the customers or prospects who are most important to you. It might help to imagine names and histories for these people – Who are they? Where do they live? How do they make decisions? Once you have a sense of your audience, consider how they think and feel about your organisation. What really matters to them? What things do they appreciate about you? What things would they like you to improve? The answers should give you an idea of their values and needs, which should, in turn, determine how you shape your messages to your most important listeners.

USEFUL RESOURCES Developing Personas http://usability.gov/methods/analyze_current/personas.html Making Personas More Powerful: Details to Drive Strategic and Tactical Design, George Olsen http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/making_personas_more_powerful_details _to_drive_strategic_and_tactical_design Ad-Hoc Personas & Empathetic Focus, Don Norman http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/personas_empath.html

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2.1 Try and group your customers into distinct groups. Ideally, customers will only fit happily in one of the groups. Thinking about each group, try to write a short thumbnail description that encompasses their: •

Age, gender, education and lifestyle

Attitudes and behaviours

Experience of the web

Motivations for interacting with you online

WHO IS YOUR MAIN AUDIENCE? AUD WHAT ARE THEIR CHARACTERISTICS?


PROJECT PLANNER

2.2

WHAT ARE THE KEY REASONS THEY CHOOSE YOU OVER THE COMPETITION?

It may help to think about: •

What this group needs

The personal goals your product or service meets

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2.3 It may help to think about: •

What customer research have you carried out before? This might include things like measuring customer satisfaction.

What others think and say about your organisation

YOUR KEY FINDINGS FROM FR MARKET RESEARCH


PROJECT PLANNER

2.4

WHAT ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS NOT HAPPY WITH? HOW DOES THIS IMPACT YOUR ORGANISATION?

You may want to cover: •

How many people contact you for help or support

The nature of their requests/complai nts

Which complaints can be remedied via the web

The different routes customers use to give you feedback

Any metrics you have about your sales or engagement process

The online forums where your customers discuss you and your products or services

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3 Your Current Site No good comes from guessing. Before efore you can truly know what you need and want from your new site, you must have a clear understanding of what you already have. (Understanding – there’s that word again!) again! So become your site’s diagnostician: Get to know it from the inside out, and then share that information in your brief. brief Look closely at your site to determine what you have, what you want to keep and what needs to be changed in the new site. These details will help you to grasp: •

in what ways, specifically, your site is underperforming (both in terms of business goals and an the more emotional experience;

approximately how much content/assets may need to be transferred and/or reworked into the new site;

exactl what/how many features may need to transfer (See Section 4: for new exactly functionality); and

how much support and guidance you will need to take your site forward after launch and keep it ticking over with new relevant and captivating content.

You may also want want to start gathering the following original files for use in your project project: •

your company logos/graphics (preferably in .eps files); and

any images you plan to transfer to the new site (staff photos, internal and external company building photos, product photos, drawings/illustrations, graphs, etc).

USEFUL RESOURCES Doing a Content Inventory, Adaptive Path http://www.adaptivepath.com/ideas/essays/archives/000040.php http://www.adaptivepath.com/ideas/essays/archives/000040.php Score a Content Touchdown, Newfangled http://www.newfangled.com/importance_of_content_strategy


PROJECT PLANNER

3.1

HOW YOUR CURRENT SITE MAKES YOU/YOUR CUSTOMERS FEEL & WHY

Some things you might want to cover: •

Your website’s address

Key words or phrases

If your site was a colleague, how would you describe its personality and performance to your partner or a friend?

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3.2

You mind find it helpful to complete these sentences: •

Staff can ...

Customers can ...

Others can ...

Staff would like to...

Customers would like to...

Others would like to ...

THE PEOPLE WHO ARE AFFECTED BY YOUR SITE (USERS USERS) AND WHAT THEY ARE ABLE TO DO THERE (FUNCTIONALITY)


PROJECT PLANNER

3.3

YOUR SITE’S EFFECTIVENESS

Some things you might want to cover: •

The business goals it was created to address

Those business problems it solves well

Those business problems it should be solving but isn’t

The evidence of this positive and negative performance (analytics, customer feedback, testing & results)

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3.4 Some things you might want to cover: •

Your content strategy

Frequency of updates

Your content policy

Your quality assurance process

Your writers

Time allocated to writing weekly/monthly

Who manages the site / uploads content / makes changes

Your CMS and what you like/dislike about it

YOUR CONTENT, GOVERNANCE GOVERN AND UPKEEP


PROJECT PLANNER

3.5

HOW BIG IS YOUR CURRENT SITE?

Some things you might want to cover: •

Page Count

Landing Page Count

Image Count

Document Count

Video Count

Audio Count

Types of Formats

Links

Social Media Used

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3.6 Some things you might want to cover: •

How much you invest each year in your site’s development

Some of your most recent web developments and their impact

The ways you drive traffic to your site

INVESTMENT AND PROMOTION PROMO


PROJECT PLANNER

4 Your Vision Vision is about more than knowing what your new website will look like. It’s about defining an experience. Close your eyes and imagine your project on launch day. The image may be more cloudy than you’d like, but don’t worry – this is how all projects begin. Instead of picturing how it will look, picture how you want your audience to feel when they arrive at your new site. Secure, inspired, solemn? And how do you want your company to come across to them: established, light-hearted, reserved? But the feelings a site evokes is only one part of the user experience. Your web partner will also need to know: •

which business objectives your site must contribute to;

what you will be saying on your site;

the functionality it should contain to be a success; and

what your users must be able to do while there (including what those in your organisation must be able to do, like manage content/registered users).

These details will give your web partner much of what they need to deliver a site that creates a satisfying experience and meets yours and your customers’ needs and expectations. Functionality has a significant bearing on a project’s complexity and timescale. For this reason, best practice suggests that each piece of functionality should support a specific business objective. If it doesn’t, you probably need to narrow your focus; many projects fail from trying to build too much. Also, clients are often surprised about how much time it takes to rework content, and gather and write new content. This responsibility typically falls to the client rather than the web partner (unless you are prepared to pay for this additional service). With this in mind, consider content carefully as you work out your vision and draft your project’s timeline. Allow yourself enough time in the schedule to write the content, as the best web partners won’t commence design without the copy.

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4.1 You may want to record: •

Words that describe the ideal feelings of customers

Words that describe the ideal impression of your organisation

Websites that create the feeling or impression you want to create

What about those sites is applicable to your audience

Aspects of the bricks-andmortar experience with your business that you’d like to replicate/capture online

HOW YOU WANT YOUR SITE’S SI VISITORS TO FEEL


PROJECT PLANNER

4.2

THE PURPOSE OF YOUR NEW SITE

You may want to include: •

Three things each group of stakeholders must be able to achieve on your site to feel satisfied

The common pain point that you can remove for your audience

Your main competitor and what you can offer that is different

Which business objectives your audience can support while online

How you plan to measure success ... in six months time... a year (visitors/sales/c ontacts, etc?)

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4.3 You may want to specify: •

The content from your current site you plan to keep/rework

The new key messages you plan to write content for

The formats your audience wants to engage with (text, images, video, etc.)

Whether your users will be selfserving or need to be led through the content

THE CONTENT AREAS FOR FO YOUR NEW SITE


PROJECT PLANNER

4.4

WHAT MUST USERS BE ABLE TO DO?

We recommend you: •

List everything users must be able to do (old and new functionality)

Divide the list into Must Have/Nice to Have

Delete any that don’t align with your site’s objectives

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4.5

For example, specify: •

Colours you want to avoid and why

Features or functions that should be avoided and why

THOSE ELEMENTS YOU DEFINITELY D DO NOT WANT INCLUDED IN YOUR YOU SITE


PROJECT PLANNER

5 Your Project Team Ib Dib Sky Blue is not the way to choose who’s It. Right at the start of your project, either just before or after you develop the project brief, you need to decide who’s going to lead this endeavour. Getting the right people involved from the outset: •

fosters their sense of ownership;

allows them to hear first-hand what is important; and

gives them a stronger grasp on the project’s purpose and direction.

This allows them to guide staff and your web provider with a more knowledgeable and unified voice. In contrast, when uninformed latecomers join in, you’d be surprised how much project time and money can be wasted getting them up to speed. After the project team is appointed, select members of your delivery team. These are your staff and industry partners who will create or collate the resources your web partner will need to build your site. This is also a good time to reflect on the stakeholder groups you identified in Section 2 and compile a list of people from each group who can, and are willing to, make a useful contribution – as you may need to call upon them for interviews and usability testing once the project kicks off. Having real people assigned to these roles and knowing their availability will give you a starting point for drafting a project timeline.

USEFUL RESOURCES How to Pick a Project Team http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/92031/How_to_Pick_a_Project_Team

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5.1 You should determine who will be: •

Representatives of site user groups (stakeholders)

Project team members (the leadership)

Delivery team members (the doers)

WHO DO YOU NEED TO CONTRIBUTE CONTRIBUTE THROUGHOUT THIS PROJECT?


PROJECT PLANNER

5.2

HOW MANY WEEKS CAN THOSE PEOPLE DEDICATE TO THIS?

You may want take into account: •

Current projects that may take up their time

Upcoming projects that may pull them away

Team members’ annual leave plans

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5.3

You should think about: •

Which ideas will contribute most value to your users and your organisation

Are some elements dependent on others (and are therefore needed first)?

IF YOU WANT YOUR PROJECT COMPLETED MPLETED IN PHASES INSTEAD IN OF ALL AT ONCE, WHAT DO YOU NEED DONE IN EACH PHASE? ASE?


PROJECT PLANNER

5.4

DO YOU HAVE A FIXED DEADLINE?

You may want to consider internal and external drivers that could influence your launch date, including: •

Already publicised launch details by marketing

A new branding campaign’s launch date

Regional/commu nity events it must coincide with

Holiday/seasonal events it must coincide with

Partner events it must coincide with

A funding/budget year deadline

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5.5 You may want to specify: •

Your total available to spend

Any phased payments you are restricted to by funders

YOUR BUDGET


PROJECT PLANNER

6 What’s Next? Whew! Now that you’ve filled out the Project Planner, you can use all of this information you’ve collated to write your project brief. If you decide that you need some help to deliver the project, you can use the brief when getting in touch with web design firms. The good ones will get back to you fairly quickly to talk to you about your brief and ask follow-up questions. To make your selection, you may want to ask for a proposal from each interested party (written or electronic), an in-person presentation where you get to meet the key players face-to-face, or both. Deciding what makes a web provider the best fit for your project is sometimes more of an art than a science; it can be subjective. But to help you, here are a few things that characterise a disreputable firm: •

They tell you they can build your website using sample content.

They give you a Time & Materials proposal without also including end dates.

They include finished visual designs in the proposal. See Where Are My Mock-Ups? for why this should concern you.

If an interested party does any of these things, it shows they haven’t thought your project through. Once you’ve decided which web partner is the best fit, expect them to appoint a single point of contact to help you scope and define your project.

WHERE ARE MY MOCK-UPS? The best design shops tend not to do design work on spec, so you shouldn’t expect visual designs until you have awarded the project and work is well underway. There are two good reasons for this, and both benefit you as a client: •

First, good design is strategic. It requires lots of planning and uses visuals to satisfy requirements and achieve objectives. Your project brief will be very useful, but it’s only the first step in a lengthy discovery process. So mocking-up visuals before discovery is complete is a discredit to your project. It reduces design to little more than wrapping paper instead of what it should be: reasoned visual decisions based on insight. If you are merely curious whether a web shop can make things attractive, take a look through

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their previous work. But carrying out design work too early can actually make it harder to find the right design desig later on. •

Secondly, reputable firms get asked to tender a lot.. If they spend their time and money doing visual design work during proposal phases, they have to pass on the cost of this unpaid work to their existing clients. This is great for you before you y award them the work, but once you become a client, you will be footing the bill for future proposal designs. And that’s not fair to you.


PROJECT PLANNER

About Front We can help you have better conversations with your customers. It’s simple really: founded in September 2000, the company began because its two founders were passionate about solving problems and building effective, beautiful websites. Based in Belfast, we were recently showcased by TASCHEN as one of the world's 90 best web studios and as leaders in developing interactive, engaging websites. Front is: •

highly capable, comprising a core team with a proven track record;

here for the long term due to our strong relationships with clients;

dedicated to collaboration and working closely with you during the project;

innovative, continually improving the quality of our work and customer service; and

driven by ethics and integrity – we are open, honest and accountable.

OUR CAPABILITIES Web Strategy Align your use of the web with your organisation's goals. Research & Scoping Find out what your customers really want from you on the web. User Experience Develop a clear value proposition online, support exceptional experiences. Visual Design Establish a visual design that is emotionally engaging. Customer Engagement Reach out to audiences on the social web. Content Strategy Plan the creation and maintenance of content that will engage your audience. Collaborative Development Focus resources on delivering real value by working collaboratively.

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