A Proven Process for Building a Successful Online Business (Not Just a Website)
Small business website design is an art and science. Over the years, I’ve learned that the process is more important than the act. The best practice process for creating a small business website is to break it down into four phases. Each phase, is equally and sequentially important.
Phase 1: Research and Planning
Phase 1 involves doing all the detective work and strategic planning. In my experience this is the most important phase, and the phase most often taken for granted. Adequate research will unveil unforeseen opportunities for target market breakthrough and proper planning will ensure that phase 2, 3 and 4 are produced efficiency and methodically.
Phase 2: Writing, Design and Development
Phase 2 is what it is…it is the actual creation of the project. It’s project and team management. It’s following a blueprint to build an infrastructure. It’s adhering to best practices for writing, design and development. It’s putting the pieces of the puzzle together. It’s synergy.
Phase 3: Usability Testing and Quality Assurance
Phase 3 is another very important phase, often overlooked and taken for granted. Any digital marketing experts would agree with me, that user experience is the most important aspect of a website. Google has been preaching it from day one. Therefore, before a new website is launched…it should always be tested by users for quality assurance. Not doing so is a disservice.
Phase 4: Website Launch Marketing Campaign
Phase 4…your opportunity to make a grand entrance….to introduce your new website to your customers, influencers and the world. Why take phase 4 for granted…why not plan a celebration? This will be perhaps your biggest opportunity to generate new fans, followers, subscribers and customers.
My Approach and Process
The first phase requires research, planning, analysis, meetings, feedback, strategy, wireframing and documenting. Once the first phase meets approval of the stakeholders, the project manager compresses and simplifies the findings for the web designers, developers and copywriters.
Once the second phase begins, the project design and development team begins collaboration — which includes ideation of design, technologies, colors, layouts, functionality, user experience, etc. Phase two is the pinnacle of the process…the project is officially being built. Once the project team has developed the mainframe, integrated the information, and customized the appearance, then the prototype is presented for client approval.
If approved, the third phase is when we cross all the “t’s”, dot all the “i’s” and dot all the lowercase “j’s”….we hire users to test the website and provide actionable feedback. Then the project managers collaborate with the project stakeholders to incorporate the actionable feedback, followed by another round of quality assurance testing before launch.
My approach to launching a website is an integrated digital marketing campaign. An integrated approach to digital marketing ensures that all your brand elements, on all communication channels, are consistent in terms of graphics, colors, typography, core message, calls-to-action, etc. This saves production money and time…and produces better marketing performance and higher returns.
If you found this blog post useful, or if you have feedback, please leave your comments below. Feel free to also email me or get in touch on Twitter at @ARagland.
All the best,