All in the <head> – Ponderings and code by Drew McLellan –

Five Most Important Considerations

At work this week, a colleague asked me what I though the five most important considerations were when planning a web site. I didn’t have an immediate answer and had to think about it for a bit. I’m still not sure the answers I came up with are really the five most important considerations, but they are five important considerations all the same.

I thought it was an interesting question and one worth throwing out there. Here’s the list I came up with. Are any of them the same as yours? What do you consider important?

Who is the site for?

Is you audience young or old? Time-pressured, or relaxed? Professional or visiting for fun? The target audience impacts everything from the look and feel through to the information architecture and even tone of voice. Every choice you make needs to be made with consideration to the type of person using the site.

What are visitors trying to achieve when they visit the site?

Visitors nearly always have a purpose in mind when visiting a site. People might claim that they just browse around without purpose at times, but even then they usually have a goal to be entertained or to learn new things. In identifying the basic user goals, the site can be designed (both visually and functionally) to help users achieve those goals.

What do YOU want visitors to achieve when the visit the site?

Whilst the project owners will often share some primary goals with the users, they also often have their own goals. These may be complementary, or occasionally contrary to those of the users. Examples range from the tangible (“upsell x, y, z product”) to the less tangible (“increase brand awareness”). By identifying these goals, the site can work effectively for its owners as well as its visitors.

How frequently do you expect people to use the site?

Although seemingly trivial, predicting usage patterns (or analysing usage patterns of any existing site) can help to put user goals into context. If users are returning to the site (such as a news site) once a day or even several times a day, the way the information is presented is very different to a site that is visited only once a year to download some forms. The information a user is looking for and the tasks they are trying to complete vary tremendously based on this.

How will you measure the success of the site?

The success of a site is rarely measured in numbers of visitors. For an online tax return system, success would be measured by the number of completed returns received each year. For a hosted application, it may be the number of accounts in use for more than a month. For an entertainment site, the number of click-throughs on banner ads might be the most important factor. In identifying how the success of the site will be measured directly from the start, priorities throughout the project can set to make sure that at all times the most important features are given the most attention.

What are your five most important considerations?