This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #StartingABusiness
A well-designed website directly contributes to enhanced user experience and leads to a higher conversion rate.
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Whether you decide to build your own website or hire a web development agency to design and develop a high-converting website, understanding the website requirements and incorporating them in the web development process results in a web application better suited to meet your business needs.
Your business website is a huge business investment and you need to follow a strategic approach if you convert it into a business asset. Here is a detailed checklist of the basic website requirements that need to be covered before you begin with the actual design and development process.
Website requirements provide you with a strategic roadmap to be followed while breaks down the development process into manageable steps ensuring that you don’t miss out on any vital details. Let’s get started!
What are website requirements and specifications?
Website requirements specifications are the documentation that serves as a foundation for the web design and development process. They articulate the project’s goals and objectives along with outlining the restraints as well as the stakeholders in the development process.
The actual requirements documentation for the project can be classified into a set of discrete requirements. These include business requirements, user requirements, system requirements, functional requirements, external interface requirements, non-functional requirements etc.
Preparing a software requirements specification document, commonly known as SRS document can be a great starting point for beginning with the actual documentation process.
Website requirements checklist
In order to define the website requirements, you need to lay down the basics of what you aim to accomplish with your website or web application, conduct the necessary market research and figure out what features you want to include within the application.
Here is a step by step checklist to help you along the way.
Define the objectives
What business goal does your website solve? How is it instrumental in you achieving the business objectives that you lay down and are the results measurable? Defining the objectives would lay down the map for every other website requirement and help you eventually measure how effective were you in accomplishing your initial goals.
Identify the target audience
Who are you building your website for? Who are the targeted users and what benefits would they have by utilizing your product? They may be existing customers, potential leads, your organization’s employees or somebody else entirely.
Once you have identified the target audience, it is time to determine what is it that you want them to do on your website. Do you want them to click on that CTA button and enter your sales pipeline or do you want them to browse around the web pages in search of relevant information before converting?
This would help you determine the user stories, plan the website design and the layout of the individual pages keeping in mind what the users are looking for and incorporating ways to make the target action as frictionless as possible.
Once you have narrowed down what you want to accomplish from your company website and who the stakeholders who stand to benefit are, the actual task begins. The technical website requirements are the things you need to consider to actually get started with website development. Here’s the list of points that you need to cross off the checklist under the technical requirements
Domain Name: For a new website, the domain name is the digital address that your users follow to land upon your website. It needs to be attention-grabbing and convey your business value at the same time.
In the case of already established brands, their brand name is usually their domain name as well but if you are just starting out with your entrepreneurial journey, chances are not many people would be identifying with your brand. You are then faced with two choices, stick with the brand name in order to get more traction and visibility or use a catchy domain name to stand out and get noticed.
Web Hosting: The web host is the online location where all your website content gets stored and retrieved from. The cost incurred with hosting depends on the type of hosting selected and the number of visitors to your website.
Web hosting can be either shared or dedicated. In shared hosting, the webserver is common among different websites while in the case of a dedicated server, you have a web server all to yourself. The hosting costs are steep in the latter case and is chosen only by enterprise-level businesses.
Web Page Design: Web design is focused around determining the layout of the different landing pages of your website like the home page, about us page, pricing page, etc. You have the option to go for drag and drop website builders like Wix and Squarespace or content management systems such as WordPress. If you want a unique high-converting website design that helps you stand out from your competition, hiring a custom web design agency should be the way to go.
4. Budgeting and timeline
These are arguably two crucial aspects of website design and are interconnected as well. How much does it cost to develop a website and how much time do you need to do it?
The actual design and development process may take anywhere between 6 weeks to 6 months and sometimes even longer depending on the complexity and the features to be incorporated. The budget required also depends on the timeline as longer the time required, higher would be the development costs.
It is imperative that you set a realistic timeline for completion of the project and website requirements assist you in making accurate estimates. Once the timeline has been established, you can determine the budget and get started with the actual development.
1. Security: The user information collected by your website is subject to a number of data protection regulations and compliances. For example, if your website falls under the healthcare domain you need to adhere to HIPAA compliance, European Union norms mandate GDPR compliance, in case of ecommerce websites or anything related to online transactions, PCI compliance has to be ensured and so on. Ensuring data security and privacy has become of utmost importance in today’s market. An SSL security certificate not only secures user data, but it also helps you boost up your Google rankings.
2. Usability: User experience design has become a must for any website. The application needs to function seamlessly across a range of devices including laptops, personal computers, tablets and mobile phones of various screen sizes and resolutions. A responsive web design company would ensure that responsiveness testing of your website takes place to ensure superior browsing experience of the customers irrespective of whether they use laptops or mobile devices.
3. Marketing and social media integration: A stellar website won’t make any contribution to your business unless people hear about it. Search engine optimization and social media integration improve the discoverability of your website ensuring that it reaches the target audience and gets widespread adoption. The web content needs to be high-quality and needs to incorporate the targeted keywords in order to ensure higher visibility.
4. Loading speed: One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of web development is ensuring faster loading speed of the web pages. Web design plays an important role in ensuring low loading times and faster loading speeds. The graphics, images and other content management has to be done in such a manner that it facilitates seamless loading of the web application in a fraction of time.
5. Analytics: Analytics tools such as Google Analytics give you insights into the user behavior on your website. The data collected imparts an element of measurability to the website design. You can know the design regions that are working as well as those that aren’t and can improve upon the latter.