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Web Site Design and Implementation
Developing a web presence is a time consuming and expensive task that involves months of planning and development. Many times, as the project progresses and milestones are achieved, the end result is not necessarily what was originally planned. People involved in the planning phases of the project may leave, resources may be shifted, the competitive environment may change or newer technologies may be discovered along the way - all of which can significantly affect the final product. As a result, it is important to ensure the final site is designed to meet your objectives and is effective at attracting and maintaining visitors.
The following sections provide a checklist of important components of your site that you should evaluate before you conduct a final launch.
The strategy development process involved determining the purpose of your site, defining your target audience and developing measurable objectives. It is this process that gave you direction on your site design including the technologies and tools you used.
There are many purposes to a web site. It could be to entice a visitor to engage in a particular ‘action’ perhaps make a purchase or fill out a member form. It could be to share information or an opinion, or provide entertainment. Whether you want to sell, persuade or entertain, every section of your site should reflect and support your site’s purpose and strategy. For instance, if you want to encourage purchase of your product, your site will probably have e-commerce functionality that will enable customers to make online payments. If you have a persuasive site, you may include a feedback form to gather public opinion and a newsletter that provides updates. A games site may include a ‘top performers’ section to encourage competitiveness between visitors so they will go to your site again.
A site’s success is very dependent on its ability to meet the needs and expectations of your target audience. For instance, the computer ‘literacy’ of your potential customers can determine how long they will stay on your site. As an example, if your visitors are not technically oriented they may require very easy navigation throughout your site or clear directions on how to conduct a particular action. If your visitors have a technology background, they will be able to understand more complex functions and content. The region in which your target audience is located can also affect the tools and design of your site. Some regions cannot support high bandwidth and therefore have slower connection speeds. As a result, you will have to pay particular attention to your use of graphics and multimedia.
Your site features will help you to meet your goals as well. If you have a site that makes money through advertising, a goal will be to drive site traffic. Consequently, you may focus on providing regular and up-to-date content. Your site may also include back-end software that provides advertisers with statistics and data on their advertising popularity.
Before you launch your web site it is important to evaluate whether the final product reflects your purpose, audience requirements and goals. It will be much easier to make the necessary changes before your site becomes public, otherwise you may risk turning away visitors and sacrificing initial opportunities.