Your website is more likely to help you communicate and achieve your goals if you know what those goals are. We provide a guide to working up a website brief. But often a consultation with someone outside your organisation can help with clarification of what you need from your website and other communications such as direct mailing and social media.
We will help you interpret your organisation’s brand for an external audience – your values, vision and goals – or even help you from scratch to discover and develop your brand.
We will help you understand the audiences for your communications, and how a website and other communication channels can reach them and help them achieve their goals.
We will evaluate your current website and communications – their style, content and any functionality – against what you want to achieve.
We will work with you to develop a brief for a new or refreshed website.
Case study: Evaluation of current website for a small business
The client was in the business of installing renewable energy systems. Their target market was larger houses where the focus is primarily on quality, knowledge and customer service rather than price. They also wished to develop their consultancy business to a much wider audience.
- A review of their existing website, to provide a short punchy critical appraisal.
- A list of proposed improvements, scoring the ease and impact of making the change.
- Updates to the website to put them ‘on the right track’.
- Any recommendations to help with attracting visitors to the website and winning work.
Based on an initial viewing of the website, I prepared a proposal outlining the likely required changes to the site, and an estimated price for a short report and the website development.
To prepare the report, I conducted a more in-depth appraisal of the website. I was also able to use my knowledge of the renewables sector to consider how best to attract and keep visitors. The report covered:
- First impressions – which often determine whether a visitor spends more than a few seconds on the website, or goes elsewhere
- Telling a story – whether the website helped the visitor understand their own needs, the company’s services, and how they would benefit from them
- Call to action – whether the website effectively asked the visitor to take the next step
- Conclusion – whether the website reflected the stated business model
- Understanding of the website goals
- Proposed improvements – description of the change; a score of the ease of making the change (whether to the client or to Websites Ahoy!) in terms of difficulty and time required; and a score of the impact of making the change
The eventual improvements to the site included:
- Refresh of the website styling to make it simple, crisp, and professional
- Refresh of the Home page, including the addition of feature boxes highlighting particular services
- Refresh of the Services pages
- Improvements to the information provided about renewables technologies and the financial incentives available
- Rewriting of the About page to provide evidence of the company’s track record within their target market, and their customer service
- Addition of Testimonials
- Improvements to the website navigation and the call to action, to lead the visitor through to making contact to discuss their requirements
- Addition of privacy and cookies policy
- Basic housekeeping behind the scenes to install the latest security patches and back-up functionality
Case study: Exploration of the potential of websites for an individual
The client wanted an exploratory consultation meeting to ‘think aloud’ about setting up a website or blog for his various interests and passions around church life. He was not comfortable with using Facebook for this, preferring something stand-alone but not knowing how to realise it or whether it was worth doing.
He had already registered a website domain, but wanted to know more about the various hosting and website development options that are available. He didn’t want to be tied to a particular supplier, and he wanted to know more about ongoing maintenance.
Given that his ideas were very nebulous and that he wanted to know specifics of setting up a website we met face-to-face, rather than online or over the phone. The session lasted 1½ hours.
I prepared a selection of demonstration sites to illustrate how to set up a self-hosted WordPress from scratch and provide an introduction to the admin screens. We covered changing the styling, publishing and managing the content, and adding extra functionality. We looked at alternative website technologies and providers, including the difference between sites hosted by WordPress.com, and self-hosted sites built in WordPress on hosting provided by a third party. The latter are more flexible in terms of functionality and can be cheaper. We then discussed the range of possibilities for blogging, email newsletters and social media.
Meeting in a café (with good internet access) encouraged an informal free-wheeling discussion within this framework. Increased understanding of how he could communicate clarified why he wanted to communicate, and sparked new ideas for what he could communicate. I was also able to draw on my knowledge of church life and related websites and blogs to explore these in more depth.
As a follow-up to our session, I suggested that he consult our “Guide – A website brief in 8.5 chapters” to help him distill his requirements. This includes questions aimed at uncovering goals for the website, the wants and needs of the target audience(s), the look and feel of the site, and how the audience(s) would interact with it.