A few years ago, you could get away with a few pages of text about who you were and what you did. We’ve come a long way since the days of Times New Roman on a white background with a midi track (or have we). Visitors expect a cohesive look and feel, that they haven’t seen before, and that is appropriate to your site. As if that wasn’t enough, they expect a level of
functionality complexity rivaled by string theory. They even want to have it be intuitive to use. The nerve!
When presented with the daunting question of “What is it that you want your site to accomplish?”, many of those very thoughts may be swimming through your head. How do you make it look good, work well, and be easy to use all at the same time? There isn’t a magic wand to wave and you don’t need all the answers. Taking things one step at a time and organizing your thoughts is a great start though.
Establish some goals for the site – If you don’t know what you want from your site, you won’t have any way to evaluate its success. They don’t need to be perfect, you can (and should) revise them as you move along.
Think about what you like and what you don’t like in your own experiences of the Web – If you have a problem with something, you probably aren’t alone. Similarly, if you like it, there is probably something to it.
Evaluate your likes and dislikes and apply them to your goals – How can what is working already be applied to you? How could it be better? What mistakes do you not want to recreate?
What functionality is the user going to expect to see – Anticipating the expectations and goals of your visitors is going to help define what offerings you need to be able to make to them. This will, in turn, help to make your site a success and allow you to revise and evaluate your goals.
Once you have these concepts together, or at least a good start, you are ready to talk to someone about making this happen.
There will inevitably things you didn’t think of. That is perfectly normal. A good Web development firm is going to have questions and suggestions. If they don’t , you have either done a masterful job or they don’t understand the project. I would lean towards the later (no offense).
Planning can be a long process, but it’s what is going to make the difference between a Web site and a Web Solution.