The word “strategy” is thrown around so often within the Interactive Design world that it’s easy to overlook the most basic question that must be asked of any strategy, whether it’s for making outstanding fried beer (yes, you read that right), or for creating a world class interactive website that has the competition lying awake at night in a feverish fit of virtual envy.
And that most basic of questions is this: just what the heck do we mean by “strategy”?
Now, at LevelTen, try as we might, we can’t help you with the first challenge.
However, when it comes to a website development
strategy for creating a world class interactive web presence that drives a business profitably forward…that’s another matter entirely. Yes “we do that.” And here’s how:
Our strategy for creating outstanding, high-performing business websites is a three-step process that includes: researching business needs, researching end user needs, and analyzing the competition.
Step One: Researching Business Needs
It all kicks off with a “Goal Modeling Workshop,” in which the following good things happen:
• the client is introduced to the team members
• we explain how our agile development processremarkably
effective for getting people thinking and talking)
• we discuss how success will be measured to ensure that it’s realistic, measurable and will take clients where they want/need to go (e.g. conversions, new community members, time on site, revenue generated, etc.).
The take-away from step one is a clear and practical map of short term business needs (0-6 months from launch), and long term business needs (6-24 months from launch)
Step Two: Researching User Needs
Fresh off the heels of the Goal Modeling Workshop, we hold a similar kind of meeting on a different day to capture user needs.
We invite representatives of every identified user come in and participate in a “User Role Modeling Workshop.” This is where identified users (or user proxies) gather around a table and write down every possible task or desire they have for interacting with the client’s website in the form of:
“As a [type of user] I would like to [enter task] so that I can [enter motivation].”
So for example:
“As a job seeker, I would like to upload my resume, so that I can get hired.”
Some of the tasks/desires are obvious and the writing is fast and furious. Some, however, take some brainstorming and that’s why we do it as a group – to share ideas, generate possibilities, and sharpen focus. Ultimately, the goal is to clarify features that: users want, clients desire, and developers can make happen.
The take-away from step two is a prioritized list of features called a “Product Backlog,” which will then be integrated into the website.
Step Three: Analyzing the Competition
The third step involves checking out the competition – and when we say “checking out, “we don’t mean a superficial scan of their stuff. We set up accounts on competitor sites, ruthlessly critique their design on every level, evaluate their feature sets, learn what they’re doing right, and steer clear of what they’re doing wrong.
The take-away from step three is a “Competitive Features Matrix,” which helps clients see how and why their website will give them a competitive advantage.
Putting it all Together
And of course, a website development strategy is only good as the team that is working on it and the outcome it leads to, and ours is as good as it gets: the LevelTen strategy enables us to build brilliant, functional and professional websites for our valued clients that completely meets business goals, satisfies end-user tasks and desires, and blows away the competition.
(We’ll keep working on the fried beer...we have a lot of research to do.)