Make Sure Your Website Design And Development Project Is a Success With This Handy Checklist
Most of our clients generally understand the web, like I understand cars. I’ve grown up with cars and know there is fuel injection, brakes, cables, pinions (there are pinions, right?), the battery, etc. but if I were to be asked to build one, or tune one up…errr, hand me that wrench? I would hire a specialist. And, I would want that specialist to tell me all the things he or she is doing so that I learn, and understand – not because I want to build or tune a car myself, but because I want to make sure they are doing all the sensible things that need to be done to create a quality vehicle I want to own.
When it comes to creating a new web presence, or upgrading an existing one, Fuse IQ is the specialist. Over the last 17 years we have designed and developed hundreds of websites and web-based applications, and we know all the parts and pieces that need to be put in place – to be checked off – to make the project a success. Below you will find a handy checklist (with key questions per point below) you can use for your next web design and development project. We know this is not exhaustive, but if your project hits all (or most of) these points you will be set up for success!
Is your new design competitive in the market? Will it turn heads, is it familiar, or a differentiator? How can you stand out from your competitors?
Is your layout, content, and imagery tuned to reach your target audiences? Do you know your target audiences? What are their habits, where and how will they be reaching your site or application?
Design Supports Functionality
Does the design language help users understand what they can do on your site? Do the layout and graphics set clear expectations of what users can or cannot do on your site?
Modern Look & Feel
Does your design look fresh and new? Does it illustrate to your audience you are “on top of it”, or is the design over-used and tired?
Clear CTAs, Next Steps
Are there clear calls-to-action (CTAs) correctly pointing users to take the next step in what you would like them to achieve? Are there clear next steps (e.g. Step 1, Step 2, etc) in a series to clarify where users are at in a sequence?
Keep it Simple
Are you creating “content white noise” with too many options? Or do you have enough “white space” to give users room to breathe while assessing their options? Can you break down complex content into easier to digest smaller chunks?
Users Find What They Need Easily
Can users quickly and easily spot content or functions they are looking for? Are you overloading a page with too many options creating hesitation and uncertainty? Are you anticipating their needs and providing visual or textual clues for their next step?
Multiple Habits = Multiple Paths
All users behave differently – are you creating multiple paths to content or functions? Can users browse content or data and can they also search for it with keyword or faceted search? Does it help users to provide “You may also like…” related content?
Navigation is Intuitive
Is there a clear and understandable breakdown of content groupings and hierarchy? Do navigation labels match page destination labels? Are there easy to understand paths back and options for navigating elsewhere?
Use Standard Web Conventions
Designers love to think differently, yet is your design so different that users don’t intuitively understand the language of where to focus and what to do? Do you want your users to quickly get to the content or data they seek, or do you want to force them to pause and think? Have you investigated the latest eye movement heat maps of how users scan pages?
Have you asked your users, peers or colleagues how easy or hard it is to use the new site? What about the labeling and placement of links, CTAs and next steps? Do you have the budget for full user experience testing with participant selection and reward, script development, and review sessions?
Clear & Concise Messaging
Are your differentiators and value statements clear and obvious? Are you proudly displaying success stories and/or impact statistics? Do you have a consistent tone and voice?
Consistent Taxonomy & IA
Is your content clearly and consistently categorized into buckets that make sense and are familiar to your target users? Does your information architecture (IA) organize your content so that it flows well and is logically organized?
Did you know most users these days only have a 10 second attention span? Are you providing titling and synopses that are easy to scan and digest (a.k.a. snackable) to allow quick understanding and accurate decision-making?
Provide Visual Support
Are you providing graphics, images or video to support your content? Are you styling more important content differently than normal content?
Have you identified what words users are searching on to reach your site? Do you have a search engine optimization (SEO) expert that can help with this? Do you have free Google Analytics installed so you can do this research? Are you aware of other tools like Yoast or Moz that can help?
Did you know search engine optimization is a constantly changing science and that it makes sense to hire an SEO expert? Are you maximizing the keywords on your site in your titles and natural language content? Did you know video and social media strategies can help your SEO efforts? Have you considered using search engine marketing (SEM) tactics such as adword campaigns and optimizing special landing pages?
Push & Pull Outreach
What strategies are you using to entice users to visit your site and what snackable bits of content are you pushing out using email and social media? What social media channels do your users mostly frequent and are you maximizing those opportunities to drive traffic? Do you have a publishing calendar? Do you have white papers, reports or rich videos to encourage visits?
Buzz, Mentions, Shares
Do you have a social media content strategy? Are you engaging with your followers and generating re-posts and @mentions? Does your messaging build momentum, engage users in contests to create buzz before a capital campaign or other time-related event?
Are you monitoring your traffic and their habits? Are you identifying popular (and unpopular) content and adjusting your content strategy accordingly?
Fast to Load
Do you have a hosting provider and plan that allows your site to load quickly (i.e. 4 seconds or less)? Have you optimized your graphics and photos for the web? Is there a lot of back-end code that takes too long to load?
Optimized for Multi-device Delivery
Is your site responsive, meaning it self-optimizes for viewing on small, medium and large screen resolutions on multiple devices including mobile? Does your site load all the same code on all devices or is it adaptive to the mobile device and load a lighter weight (faster to load) set, or subset, of code?
Can your hosting provider guarantee a 99% or better uptime? What about redundancy?
What are the security standards your hosting provider holds themselves to? What about your content management system (CMS, such as Drupal or WordPress) – are your developers creating your site to the best standards for security? Do you have retrievable and usable backups in place in case your site is hacked?
Hosting That Can Scale
Can your hosting easily scale in its throughput if a new product, service or other event drives a spike in traffic? Is it easy and inexpensive to add more gigs of storage?
Google Analytics can tell you a lot, and did you know there are many other performance tools to test your site such as tools.pingdom.com?
Just like cars have become complex and magical mechanical wonders, so have modern websites. Yet by making sure you know enough to identify website quality, integrity, and performance, you too can make sure you are getting the best vehicle, er, I mean website your money can buy.