Quick Update/Feedback Loop: Best Way to Design/Develop a Website
The process of designing and developing a website is a complex task that requires careful planning, execution, and continuous improvement. One of the most effective methods to achieve this is by adopting a lean approach, which emphasizes quick cycles of updates and feedback loops. This method, inspired by the Lean Design Methodology, allows for swift progress towards the end goal while ensuring that the final product aligns closely with the envisioned outcome.
The Lean Design Methodology is a business philosophy that focuses on eliminating waste in any production process to drive innovation and design excellence. It enhances productivity and value for customers and stakeholders. When applied to website design, it allows for swift launching and iterative improvements over time, negating the need for a massive upfront investment.
The first step in the lean website design process is the audit and analysis stage. This involves a comprehensive evaluation of the current website and its platform, as well as an exploration of the broad needs of the project and desired outcomes. The goal is to lay a strategic foundation for an effective launch.
Next comes the competitor, market, messaging, and landscape research stage. Here, the team analyzes the competitive landscape for critical factors like ease of use, content availability, clear calls-to-action, and messaging impact. This stage reveals critical opportunities and imperatives that can guide the subsequent stages of the design process.
The third stage involves prioritization and analysis. The design, content, and marketing teams look for quick wins and "low-hanging fruit" actions in a comprehensive audit document. Website analytics can show which pages do not convert leads or rank for SEO, and therefore may need the most improvement. This stage helps the team prioritize action items for a lean launch.
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Following this, the team embarks on the information architecture, buyer journey, and site organization stage. The team considers user experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO) mistakes, such as failing to use appropriate keywords for page titles and headers. Analytics and testing are used to define a better navigation system and concept plan.
Simultaneously with content planning, the design team works on design exploration and wireframes. This involves creating a mockup which captures design inspiration, and simple design themes such as colors, fonts, and icons. Then the team moves into wireframing and design mockups, with several rounds of revisions if needed.
Content optimizations come next. The team develops a value proposition that is value-centric and not autobiographical. At this stage, content may be SEO optimized for keyword strategy targets. Following this, the development stage begins. The website is built with modular templates that can be easily repurposed as the website scales. A lean website undergoes multiple launches, not a single culminating launch event.
Once the website is launched, the real work begins. This period is made for testing, iteration, and analysis. By testing different designs, messaging, and conversion points, the team gradually gains insights and can optimize for better performance.
Throughout this process, feedback plays a crucial role. Design feedback opens the door for team members, clients, and stakeholders to review and analyze a design idea. It's a critical part of the design process because it lets you know what's working, what's not working, and how things can be improved.
In conclusion, the lean website design process is a dynamic, iterative, and feedback-driven approach that ensures the final product meets user and business needs. It improves teamwork and alignment, creates more efficiently, and ultimately leads to happier users. By following this process, businesses can ensure their websites are not only visually appealing but also functional, user-friendly, and aligned with their overall business goals.