Planning is the key to any successful web Site.

Your customer is the reason you have a web site whether you are displaying information, offering services or selling products.

To achieve a successful web site you need to know who your customers are and what they require from your web site. You may find that you are targeting more than one type of customer. After all people come from different walks of life and from different disciplines.

So how do we go about planning the site? Well after you’ve collated all the different types of customer either from gathering information from surveys or just by sheer brainstorming in a steering group we should be left with an idea of what the customers needs are. However, this can be hard to visualise and the information can be quickly diluted by your own requirements and before you know it you have strayed from the path.

So what can we do?

Persona’s are very handy and summarise your targeted customer base. The persona is presented in many forms but most popular is to create a table of fictional customers based on your data as shown below: (Click image to enlarge).

Personal document  example

Now the task is clearer and in the planning stage nobody in your steering group should be allowed to move away from your persona’s requirements. This keeps you all on the same path.

The persona’s will help you create the User journey from entry point to egress point. The customer has a clear agenda. “I want to go to your web site and locate the information, service or product as fast as possible and then leave to get on with my life”. If you delay your customer they will become annoyed or bored and leave to look at someone else’s web site. So the User journey is very important and often referred to as Information Architecture.

Information Architecture is not only useful for creating a web site that customers would prefer to use over other web sites but it’s also very useful to gain analytical information about your user base and how well your site performs and how you can enhance your web site. After all, your web site should always be evolving to keep your customers engaged.

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