Why Use an Agency?


Developing Your Web Strategy

by: | November 30, 2010

A web design agency, in the current market, should offer more than just design. Design is only a single element – the color, fonts, shape of the content areas, the overall look and feel – and it’s just the tip of the iceberg on a successful site. Production is what takes these static designs and makes it come alive, creating navigation buttons that work, adding the links, putting in the video player, making the gallery functional for the user, and more. Programming is where you hear terms like server-side scripting, PHP, HTML slicing, and others that might be unfamiliar to an untrained ear. Programming also makes your forms function: Information entered by users gets stored properly in your database; confirmation and thank-you emails can be triggered and automatically sent to customers; employee and customer log-ins work correctly and take users to the right place – you know, the fun stuff. But before all this can happen, a well-planned strategy must be put in place.

Much discovery goes into planning an SMB website. What does your company do? What is your top priority for the website – and the second, and third? Most importantly, who are you trying to reach? Who is your audience? What are they looking for and how do you get that to them, in the quickest and easiest way? Web users want information and they want it now. They do not want long, sprawling diatribes about the founder or a phone number that they have to comb through the site to find – especially a phone number that appears as a graphic and therefore can’t be clicked through on a smartphone. An agency’s information architect or web strategist (sometimes more bloated terms such as “user experience strategist” are used) takes this into account and tries to create a blueprint or wireframe in web development.

A good strategy phase for your website should include some or all of the following:

  • Project Overview: This shows that the agency understands the task at hand
  • Creative Brief: On the strategy side, this goes to further define the project and includes things like the voice, mission, goals, site persona, positioning statement, targets, and objectives
  • Key Performance Indicators: Defines the points that prove the site is working, like lower bounce rates, defining conversions, high search engine ranking, etc. – whatever determines success for your project.
  • Heuristics Evaluation: Reviews your current site (if applicable) to define where the problems lie – disconnects in message, poor navigation, broken functionality, etc.
  • Competitive Analysis: A report that breaks down your closest competitors’ sites and explores what they are doing right and wrong.
  • Persona Development: Creating imaginary users based on your demographics and creating stories on how they potentially will interact with your site. This helps developers address the needs of different people.
  • Content Inventory: Checklist of everything on your current site (if applicable); this helps sort the current information and decide what’s expendable to create a lighter user experience.
  • Proposed Site Outline: This is sort of a sitemap; it relays the top-level categories as the agency sees them and the corresponding information in each category.
  • Wireframe: This is the end product of this phase, basically an outline of every main page or the shell of the website without incorporating any design.Marketing Zeus

Part 3 of this series will focus on the science of web design.

Posted in: Branding, Content, Usability, Why Use an Agency?

About the Writer:

John Prinzo is a Rollins College graduate and has an MS degree from Full Sail University in Internet Marketing. He began his digital career as a Project Manager for Lightmaker in Orlando, FL – a renowned digital agency. He is currently the Digital Marketing & PR Specialist for Orlando Health. John is an avid music fan and writes and photographs as a freelance music journalist. He collects his music coverage on his Orlando music blog, Kisses & Noise. His focus is on project management, digital strategy, copywriting, SEO, social media, blogging, and rocking out.

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