Website Design and Development FAQ: Strategy

Posted: September 10, 2013

Carissa Hoel Web Account Director

Website design and development projects are exciting. At the same time, they can be a bit overwhelming. These projects consist of several phases made up of many steps. It’s natural to have questions as we move through the process.

The first step in any project is the strategy phase. Strategy is crucial; every decision moving forward will be based off of the findings in this phase. Although each project is a little different, strategy generally consists of stakeholder interviews, competitive analysis, audits and additional research. Here are a few questions we hear from many of our clients about the strategy phase.

Kickoff Meeting

Q: What happens during the kickoff meeting?

A: The purpose of this meeting is to start the project off on the right foot and get everyone on the same page. During the meeting we cover introductions, review the scope of work, discuss the project management process and talk through the next steps.

Q: Do I need to do anything to prepare for this meeting?

A: The account lead on the VisionPoint team will do the prep work for the meeting. All you will need is a copy of the scope of work and access to the items that are emailed to you before the call. We typically send over a kickoff meeting agenda, a progress report template and any other documentation specific to the project.

Initial Research:

Q: What information do we need to provide?

A: Generally, we ask for access to Google analytics, a top competitor list, any existing brand guidelines, current marketing and print material, assets and any additional research or information you would like to share that may be useful for the project.

Q: What will you do with the information we provide?

A: The information you provide, such as competitor lists, are used as a starting point in our research. Analytics are reviewed to set-up baseline metrics and get a feel for user interaction on the website. Things like guidelines, assets and marketing materials will help us become more familiar with your brand and messaging. This information also helps us prepare for stakeholder interviews.

Stakeholder Interviews:

Q: How many people will you speak with?

A: The number of groups we will speak with is outlined in the scope of work. Within each group, we prefer to interview 5-10 people. Although it can be hard to narrow some of these groups down, having more than 10 people can mean that we don’t get to hear from everyone in as much detail as we would like or we cover fewer questions.

Q: What groups do you want to speak with?

A: Each project will be a little different. We generally ask to meet with internal users such as your IT and marketing team, administration, current students, faculty and staff. We also like to speak with external audiences such as prospective students, alumni, family and community members.

Q: What kinds of questions will you ask?

A: Each group will have a unique set of questions that are used to start the conversation. For internal user groups such as IT, marketing and administration, we begin by learning more about the institution from an internal perspective. This may include history, institutional goals, mission, differentiators, challenges and resources. Then we move into project specific questions such as project goals and expectations, what you do and do not like about your website, current content processes, current and desired functionality and much more.

For external users, we want to learn about their perception of the website and if it is a good representation of the institution. We ask what they like and don’t like as well as what they would like to see improved. We also ask what they typically use the website for and if they are successful.

What Next?

After we have gathered information and completed any additional research, we compile what we have learned into a deliverable such as a strategy presentation. We then take the strategy and apply it to all of the following phases starting with information architecture.

A lot goes into the strategy phase and you probably have a lot more questions. We’d love to hear them. Contact us or leave a comment below to get the discussion going.