In my jolly career as a digital designer, web design has taken centre stage. I quickly came to realise the need to educate small-medium sized businesses on the importance of starting off on the right track by defining success criteria.
Neglecting this task often leads to underachieving websites that have a higher chance of failing to deliver a return on investment.
Why is this an issue?
So far this is very straight forward, if there isn't a common understanding of what is being built and why, the pieces are unlikely to fit the puzzle. So what causes this issue? I have a couple of theories:
When a business considers purchasing a new website, now and then it is with a final product in mind and a vision of which features are expect to go where. At the beginning of a project the ‘strategy’ in ‘strategic design’ is barely in sight and easily overlooked at the first sign of tangible value.
Since modern society interacts with websites on daily basis, everyone’s a web expert, each with their own library of what sites and features work for them. From time to time this leads to a project kicking off with a Build-A-Bear mentality mixing cool features and ideas based on subjective opinion.
Defining a website goal that aligns with a business strategy is the first and most important step when laying the ground work. If the project is a redesign I would recommend evaluating your current website or hiring an expert perform a heuristic analysis to identify where and why your current website is failing.
To define a clear and coherent goal the S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) model is a fantastic guide. Here is a basic example for the launch of a new dating website:
“The websites goal is to register 6000-8000 new male and female members between the age of 18-35 years old, within the first 6 weeks of the websites launch.”
Not only does a clearly defined goal mean everyone can collaborate effectively towards obtaining the websites objectives, it also helps outline a clear path for questioning as the project moves into the research and discovery phase.
It is everyone's responsibility on a web project to make sure that features and requests align with the clearly defined strategy, which will help clients achieve objectives, providing long term value opposed to short-term satisfaction.
Define success criteria with help of the S.M.A.R.T model, it will help you consider potential aspects that can potentially make or break the final solution.