Whatever business idea springs to your mind, you will eventually come to a point where you will need to have a website. Whether you build bridges, sell toys or provide consulting services – you need an online tool to spread the word about your product.
Designing a website has more to do with engineering than with art. The word design triggers associations with fashion, logos, and only visual things. In reality, design means create. Web design is a set of engineering solutions which aim to achieve a stated business objective. It requires a well-thought-out plan.
Sometimes you might want to use not only your personal experience but find a design team that knows how to:
- organize the process
- deal with misunderstandings
- meet business objectives
The big question is – how to outsource your website’s design and not fail? It’s going to be an essential part of your company’s image and reputation. How can you trust something as important to an outsourcing design team?
The principal difference between an outsourcing team and an in-house designer is that a team of designers includes several people, each with a specific range of expertise, and they all are managed by a project manager. Such outsourcing teams have all internal processes set up. They are the kind of business partners I want to talk about today and, namely, how to work with them.
The opportunities you have when working with an outsourcing team are:
- Multifunctionality. Outsourcing teams consist of designers, marketers, and copywriters. Your project will be studied by people with different skill-sets to make sure the overall design is clear and easy-to-use.
- Management. Outsourcing teams tend to operate under the supervision of project managers who are responsible for the integrity and on-time delivery of your website. Unless overseen, designers may deviate from the business objective in favor of personal preferences.
- Project discovery. An outsourcing team should provide analytical service:
- SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis
- competitor analysis
- trend analysis
Unless you have marketers, entrust your outsourcing team with that task. Without the discovery conducted, your business may never find its customers.
There are some obstacles you may encounter, as well:
Communication. The lack of face-to-face interaction may lead to the incomplete understanding of the business objective. As a result – delayed feedback and extended deadlines.
Solution. Arrange personal meetings with the team to discuss how the progress is going. You need accurate planning and established dates of meetings, even if you’re far from the team.
- Immersion. An outsourcing team may not dedicate full time to your website. They tend to work on a few projects simultaneously.
Solution. Engage the team in your project. Make a presentation to explain all the details. It will answer dozens of questions, and your efforts will show your interest in working with the outsourcing team. Such actions will prevent them making the design purely for money.
Establishing your business objective
Before starting the job, you are supposed to give the design team the following information:
- Target audience. Before designing a website, you must know who is going to visit it. If you think it’s going to be everybody, it’s more likely to be nobody. You can cooperate with your team to create your persona – your ideal customer. More on that below.
- Purpose. State what you want your website to do. Don’t put it like ‘change the world,’ neither be too plain. The way it helps people will work better than a generalized statement.
- Reputation. The reputation you have or want to have has a lot to do with your target audience. Unless you set it, the design team may not understand the segment you’re targeting.
- Competitors. It’s important to know the do’s and don’ts. Analyzing your competitors, designers can create a website that will be more appealing to your customers.
- Show what you like. Don’t hesitate to show the examples of designs you like. You can ask your team to take inspiration from them. It will save your time and ensure your team gets you right.
You also shouldn’t forget that your personal preferences may not match your business objective. Always remember that you are making a website for your customers.
The best way to give this information is to make a presentation and to have a face-to-face discussion.
Defining the target audience
Designers must know the key points to create a website that your customers will like. That’s why outsourcing teams offer user research.
For designers, target market analysis comes down to four main parts:
Customers’ needs. You can’t persuade anyone to buy your product unless they need it. Find out how your product can satisfy those needs, so the designers can present it in the best possible way.
Preferred interactions. It’s how you want your customers to interact with your website. You need to think about the emotions users are going to get on each point of your website. Predict all the pain points and how to mend them on further steps.
Personality. Creating a persona is the result of the previous steps. It’s your ideal customer, like an image of a real person.
Web behavior. It’s the analysis of what and why your potential customer does on web pages. It includes average sessions duration and points of focus. This information is important because it tells the designers what to emphasize on your webpage. For instance, it may appear that above the fold doesn’t work for your audience.
This step combines your ideas and design solutions. When creating a website, content is everything your customers will see – pictures, buttons, logos, texts, and so on. I include text here because it’s also a part of the design. It’s unreasonable to create blank spaces, and then fill them with texts. You can eventually understand that your content won’t fit the overall interface and you’ll have to redesign everything hence spend more time.
Your task here is to decide what sort of content you want on your website and what it gives to your users. If you’re an architect, you might want to have a page with your projects to show your proficiency in architecture. You don’t need to give the designers the complete content instantly, but the general concept is a must.
Another part of the content is SEO – Search Engine Optimization. It’s a process of making your website suitable for search engines. If your website is optimized, it will be shown on the first page in Google or Yahoo. To win SEO, I suggest you find an SEO specialist – a person who can consult your team on how to design a well-optimized website.
You will need to tell your designers your SEO requirements and traffic channels. Therefore, they will know what to emphasize on the website. They know they can’t hide or somehow change some parts of texts and other elements. Otherwise, search engines won’t recognize them.
No matter how great your website, if it’s not optimized – nobody’s going to find it without paid banners.
Wireframing is the main body of any project. This step accents designers’ work. When you have established the objectives, defined your target market, and finalized the content for your page, the design team will start creating the layout and interaction patterns for each web page. It’s called wireframing.
A wireframe is necessary to prevent major errors on further steps and see the sketched model of your website. The content is roughly put into blocks to examine the overall usability and adaptiveness of your page to changes. When the wireframe is complete, they will start testing its usability. You also need to participate.
When the testing is over, give your team some feedback. It must include:
What you like/dislike. Why?
What to keep/remove. Why?
The most important part here is why. All your remarks must be reasonable. If you just don’t like something on the website, it doesn’t mean it must be removed. Only testing can reveal flaws. Again, the website is not for you but your customers.
Feedback tends to take lots of time. You can avoid this if you arrange regular meetings with the team. You can also make your designers present the milestones of your project by themselves. It will help you give instant responses as they will notify you of all recent changes.
When you’ve dealt with the feedback, give your team a chance to tell you what they didn’t manage to do, why, and what alternatives there are. This is a crucial point, as many teams tend to hide minor points they couldn’t implement.
User Interface is the visual component of a wireframe. It includes everything you can see – images, colors, fonts, and so on. Your team will present the UI based on your business objective and the usability test results. If you don’t like the presented UI, you must explain why. It’s normal that you might not like some parts of it. To avoid delays, ask your team to prepare a couple of variants in advance so you can choose the one you like best. Remember that it’s extra work which requires extra time and money.
When you’ve chosen the graphic interface, the website is complete. Now it’s time to test it. Without testing, you risk to find out that something doesn’t work, so you will later have to pay extra to fix it.
To make sure everything is right, you need to conduct the following:
A/B testing. This approach shows which variable has better performing results. The variables are any elements on your page. You can check if it’s better to place some button here or there or which piece of text performs worse than expected.
Focus groups. Real people are the best reviewers. There’s a new approach which is said to give more constructive feedback. It’s the test groups whose members pay to participate. Such people are interested in testing as they pay money for it. Therefore, the results will be more effective rather than with random people to who you pay.
Try a different approach to creating a website with the help of an outsourcing team. When you have your website, there’s still something you can do. You must examine how your website performs. The same team that created your website can offer you keep on working with your project. This work will include analyzing your website for some time, usually from three to six months. After that, they can make some conclusions on what they can better. In such way, your website will be undergoing constant improvements.