Not «just» a website – here you can learn what is needed when developing a website.
The effort and work involved in creating a website is often underestimated. A web presence needs to be carefully planned and executed, in order to achieve an optimal result. What you should think of when starting your next web project is explained in this article.
User centered design
In recent years the term HCD (Human Centered Design - not Hockey Club Davos) has become more and more popular. The human perspective is included in all steps of the problem solving process. This means that the subsequent user of the product is the focus of attention. A product is not developed according to the needs of a manager or client, but according to those of the user.
Using user research methods such as interviews, questionnaires, workshops or focus groups together with the customers/users, problems and needs are identified. These problems are analysed and classified according to various criteria. Subsequently, solution approaches for the defined main problems are sought and developed.
Human Centered Design runs through complete projects. Usability tests are particularly suitable. The earlier these tests are carried out, the better. Small usability tests can already be carried out with sketched prototypes. However, tests with hi-fi prototypes, which are clickable and enter the development phase 1:1 after passing the tests, are most common.
Especially with redesigns of websites, too little attention is paid to the conception. Often a website has to be renewed so that it simply looks «modern» again. But also the structure and contents of the website have to be rethought. It is best to start at zero and forget the current page.
Gladly I show you with the following example, how you can compile a concept: Take a stack of notes and write down all the things your customers would expect on the website. Put yourself in the customer's perspective. What interests you when you visit websites? Do you use a contact form or maybe you just write an e-mail?
After you've finished, it's time to structure the content. Group the notes in a way that could be logical for your customers. Forget internal structuring and processes. It only depends on a logical structure for the visitors.
Now the individual groups can be named with appropriate keywords and you already have your sitemap for the new website.
In the best case, let customers or future visitors execute this method immediately. Have the confidence to just watch – this external view will be good for the structure of the website.
If this is not possible, you can also work with so-called personas. Personas represent the goals and needs of the target group and appear in the form of an imaginary person: they have a name, various characteristics that make up the target group, and often an image. So you can imagine a real person for the persona, which strengthens empathy. Playmobil men, for example, can also be used instead of pictures.
When the sitemap is up, we illustrate it in a wireframe. As the name suggests, this wireframe is an abstract, wiry representation of the future website. It's just about visualizing the structure.
Almost the most important thing about a website is its content. Interesting text, high quality pictures and illustrations and exciting videos are the be-all and end-all of an appealing website. We recommend the use of professionals for the content. Copywriters and photographers will make the difference to your competitors.
For the implemented project of Centralhof Herrenmode professional photos were available. It gives the site a personal touch, as the photos were taken with a customer and many parts of Sursee are recognizable.
Due to this immense importance, the content first principle is often applied. This means that after defining the structure, the content is already developed and supplemented in the wireframe. The designer can then work with the correct content, which contributes to a coherent overall picture at the end of the project.
Collecting the content should not be underestimated. Thanks to Pimcore training, our clients are able to fill the website with content themselves and make subsequent adjustments themselves.
By default, we create a screen design for the desktop view of a website. This means that we design each individual page and have it approved by the customer. In this way, we avoid complicated customization requests during the development phase. While, for example, moving an image in the layout phase takes just two minutes, this can take about an hour during the development phase.
Depending on how important mobile optimization is to our customers, we design a smartphone-sized screen design for each individual page. Especially for pages that are often opened on the smartphone, this can make sense. Otherwise, the natural, responsive view is sufficient. There, all elements are adapted to the width of the device and listed below each other.
If the screen design wants to be tested with a real «website feeling», we create a clickable prototype from it.
Since our pages are all our own developments, they are individualized down to the last detail. As you probably already know, we build our websites with the digital online platform Pimcore. This system combines a CMS (website content management system), a PIM (product information management), a DAM (media management) and an eCommerce integration (online shop).
With Pimcore as a basis, any external tools and applications can be connected. In this way, digital processes can be optimized and simplified. With Artificial Intelligence (AI), the whole thing can even be further enhanced. While these possibilities rather improve the experience of the employees or the persons who work with them, the following options are relevant for the visitors of the website.
Customer Data Management can be used to personalize the user experience. Based on customer data, user actions (behaviour on the website) and events (e.g. weather or location), personalised and automated marketing actions (e.g. newsletter dispatch) can be carried out. The website can also be customized according to the visitor. This means that different users are shown different ads on the website.
With a Progressive Web App you can make your website available offline. This means that it behaves like an app and can also be downloaded from the Google Play Store. We expect that this will also be possible in Apple's App Store in the future.
Once the website is online, the work is not done. It should be constantly updated, possibly a text adaptation here or an image update there. Especially the news page should be up-to-date, as the name suggests.
In addition to the content adjustments, technical changes should not be ignored. Pimcore updates often deliver great new editing features with little effort. Further toolbox modules can also be easily developed and inserted anywhere on the page. Therefore, there are hardly any limits to further development – and you should definitely make use of this.
Your online marketing measures should already be planned during the conception of the website. These are considered in the complete development phase. Thanks to Pimcore, a newsletter can be integrated directly into the instance of the website, which makes it easier, for example, to use news articles from the website in the newsletter.
Social media is a very complex topic, which is why a blog article already exists for it. If you also want your company to appear in the social media, I strongly recommend that you read the article.
In the field of search engine optimization we help you to use the SEO tools integrated in Pimcore. There is also a blog article about this. Since deeper optimizations are not our area of expertise, we recommend consulting a professional.
Do you want to check how often the page is visited, which page is the most popular, on which devices the page is accessed most frequently or how long the visit lasts after the page has been put online? Then we recommend the use of analytic tools such as Google Analytics or Matomo. We are happy to configure the website for our customers.
As you can see, there is a lot of work behind creating a new website. Which of these points surprised you the most? What was forgotten in your previous web projects? We are looking forward to many comments - and when a new web project is coming soon, we will of course be happy to help you think of everything.