4 Steps to Building an Effective Website – Step 4: Research & Functionality

By

If you have been working through the first 3 steps of developing your website, you have undoubtedly been busy! Throughout the process I am sure the desire to discuss how it will work has come to mind. I’ve listed this as the final step because it has been my experience that many people end up focusing on functionality over goals, when it really should be the other way around. Your website functionality should support your goals, map, and wireframe.


Today we will conquer 2 important questions:
  • What is Your Audience’s Expectation of Function?
  • How Do You Define Functionality if You Are Not a Technical Person?

Research

Defining your business goals in step one helped us clarify who you are and who your customer is on the web. Now you need to do a little research to see what they expect from your website. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Does today’s customer in your industry expect to be able to find your phone number easily?
  • Does your customer spend more time on a tablet or mobile device to visit sites for businesses like yours?
  • If you have a shopping cart, does it annoy your customer to have to register to checkout?

Different audiences have different expectations, and if you are dealing with multiple audiences you may need to add in a bit more function to support all of their needs.


Defining Functionality

How your website will function is a major step in the process. Items that may look simple to your untrained eye can be more complicated to code. Before you begin developing your website, you need to identify your function. But how do you do that if you are not a technical person?

Start with your wireframe; during this process you defined the placement of elements. Now write down how you see it working or moving in your own words. For example, if you have a wireframe with an area for big images that are meant to change, ask yourself questions like:

  • How do I want my images to change?
  • Do I want them to fade?
  • Do I want them to have a certain type of transition?
  • Do I need to be able to change these image myself?

Think in terms of your own use as the website administrator. If you define what you need to edit and change, it will affect how the website is coded.

In step 2 of our process, we laid out our map. To help define function, you should go back to that map and identify features that will enhance your text. For example, if you want the testimonial page to have video clips, you need to define that in this step. If you would like the testimonials you add to this page to appear in more than one area of your site, you should explain that to your developer. There is no need to enter information more than once on a website if it is developed correctly.


Samples

When you are not familiar with web language, the best way to explain what you are looking for is by example. Find sites that support the details you wrote out for each of your pages. They do not have to be samples from your industry. For example, if you know that you want video on your website, find sites with video and look at how it works. Share the link with your web developers, and they will be able to explain how complicated or simple it may be.

One word of caution: when you look at websites developed by bigger companies, recognize that they have deeper pockets. You may not be able to afford the exact functionality you see on your samples.


By walking yourself through the four steps in this series:

You will be able to build a website that meets your business needs, your budget and your customers’ expectations. And as your business grows and changes, you should keep working through the steps when scaling your business website.

Leave a Reply