What is a web strategy?
A web strategy is a long-term plan to achieve the objectives of your business while developing its online presence. It defines a clear path from conceptualisation to the optimisation of the finished product, to ensure your website and online presence accurately correlate to your businesses goals and objectives.
A web strategy will differ from business to business depending on the:
- competitive landscape of the industry
- target audience they wish to reach
- performance of their current website
- goals and objectives (both short term & long term) of the business
Even though a web strategy is unique to its own business, there are some common techniques and structures that are applied to all web strategies to streamline the process and create a roadmap and communication medium between a web strategist and their client.
Phases of a web strategy
Like any well-developed strategy, it begins with lots of research! This involves getting a robust and complete understanding of the company and the industry it’s competing in. An in-depth analysis of the competitive landscape will provide valuable insight from both a design perspective and for strategic evaluation.
It’s important to get a well-rounded view of the business’s current position and future goals by diversifying your research; speak with stakeholders, gain metrics of the current website and do some research on their competitors. This will give you a better understanding of the direction the business wants to go in and what can be achieved through a web strategy.
Once you have a clear and concise understanding of your clients business and objectives, it’s time to focus on their customers. This process will be the foundation of the direction your web strategy will take. By defining the target audience, locating areas in the industry in which your client can compete, and identifying areas in which your client can gain an advantage over their competitors, will provide the basis for the main objectives of your web strategy.
The audit phase is the first deliverable, consisting of a culmination of the research and gathered analytical data, presented in a way that defines the clear goals and objectives of your web strategy. The purpose of this phase is to communicate the findings of the research phase to both your team, client and stakeholders, to ensure the web strategy phase begins with all relevant parties with the same overview of the objectives and intentions of this process. It defines a clear direction that the company wants to go in, what goals they ants to achieve and how best to achieve them.
Web Strategy Phase
This phase is the realisation of the previous phases to create technical solutions to achieve the previously identified objectives. This phase should have a clear structure and timeline, to chronologically complete aspects of the web strategy, but also to effectively communicate with your client.
It’s important to note that each part of the web strategy has a common audience, each step should have this common objective in mind when approaching the technical solutions and implementations. Here at the main considerations during the strategy phase:
- Understanding your customer journey: This can be done through the collection of analytical data and user testing. It’s important to understand how your users interact with your website, ion order to optimize their experience. This is particularly important during navigational design.
- Content Structure: Identifying the importance of certain content and making it easily accessible from any entry point to your website, for example; placing contact details in the footer, as well as the contact page, so that a user can enter at any point of the website and still be able to make that next step of engagement with your business.
- Every page is a landing page: This is often overlooked, but your users should be able to enter your website on any page and still get a sense of your company’s identity and values. This is particularly relevant with regards to SEO; if you have a competent SEO implementation and keywords on each page (which you should) then your users are more likely to enter your website on pages other than the home page.
- Optimisation: Ensure your website is optimized, keeping page load times down and increasing user experience, the first 5 seconds have the biggest impact on conversion rate, make sure your website loads within this time.
- Accessibility: ensure your website is as accessible as possible; did you know that according to the WHO, 15% of the world population are living with a disability? This shows that if your website is not accessible, you are excluding 15% of people from being able to interact with your business online. To learn more about accessibility for websites check out our previous article – The importance of accessibility for websites.
- Customer communication: It’s important to have a structure in place to effectively communicate with your users. Response time is a big part of this objective, the sooner you reply, the more likely you are to gain a customer, and the less likely they have contacted one of your competitors. For this, we would highly recommend using a live chat system such as a chatbot or virtual assistant. This provides an instant response to customer queries and is a solution that requires very little working hours to maintain. If you want to learn more about chatbot technology, read our previous article – Conversational Commerce – What it is and how it can take your business to the next level
- Social media: The role of social media in increasing the visibility of your business can not be underestimated. You can reach an astonishing amount of potential customer with a competent, strategic social media plan. Your website is the flagship store of your online presence, but your social media pages should not be neglected. It’s a useful avenue for people to reach out to your business and a great tool for generating company exposure, for free!
A brand identity is visual elements of a businesses brand such as logo, colours and fonts that distinguish a business in consumers minds. These elements aim to create a connection between your business and its products, websites, content, etc. The best example of this is Apple with the use of “i”. Any product with the prefix of the letter “i” immediately relates to the apple brand; iPhone, iPod, iTunes, etc.
Your brand identity is a key component in how you’re business achieves visibility online. Your brand identity should be a part of all aspects of your online presence and be a consistent factor for your websites design, visual content and product design. You can learn more about how we approach brand identity in this section.
The importance of analytics
Using analytical tools provides a business and its stakeholders with valuable insight into how people engage with their online presence. Collecting analytical data is important in all stages of a web strategy as it statistically identifies:
- current performance of your website
- types of users your website attracts
- design flaws that may be inhibiting your users’ experience
- user journey
- effectiveness of different aspects of the web strategy
- goals and objectives
- how to improve and optimize the web strategy going forward
If you would like to learn more about how we implement analytical tools and create custom dashboards for our clients to provide them with an ongoing statistical analysis of their online presence, check this out!
The Role of SEO
SEO is a key component of any web strategy; the ability for customers to find your business online implies you need to rank well on search engines! There are numerous factors in achieving this including:
- keyword research and implementation
- performance of your website
- structured, relevant, original content (text, images & videos)
- meta titles & descriptions
- Google ranking factor including core web vitals
Some or all of these factors can be included in your web strategy, although some businesses prefer to have a separate SEO strategy. If this is the case, it’s imperative that the underlying goals, objectives, target audience identification & competitive landscape analysis are consistent with your web strategy.
How a competent web strategy can affect my business?
It’s become increasingly clear that a businesses online presence is the most important aspect of how a business relates to its consumers. The increase in online sales, the higher demand for online services and the fact that nowadays if people need something, they Google it! Your online presence is what most of your new customers will judge you on, it will relay your professionalism, values, and trustworthiness.
Implementing a web strategy should be a core part of any businesses online presence. In the world of technology, no one can afford to be static. A web strategy provides short & long term objectives, making it abundantly clear the direction in which your business is going for your stakeholders, employees & consumers. Here is an outline of some of the key benefits your business will enjoy from a well structured and implemented web strategy:
- increases traffic on your website
- higher conversion rates
- better search engine rankings
- increased brand exposure
- a structured approach to achieving clearly defined goals
- and most of all… increased revenue and customers!
KAIZEN (Japanese for continuous improvements)
It’s imperative in any web strategy that there is a long term plan, one that is intended to be ever-evolving and optimised based on trends and forecasts.
Analytical tools provide us with great insights into the current and past performance of different aspects of your online presence. Use these tools to stay ahead of competitors, keep up with current trends, remove aspects of your website that is not working & enhance the ones that are! Implementing a new web strategy can be a big undertaking, but optimising and maintaining it is not.
Every website, business or online store should have a web strategy, regardless of size or turnover. It’s imperative to outline the future goals and objectives of your online presence if it is to grow and succeed. So many aspects of design, SEO, navigation, content & visibility can be streamlined by creating a structured and competent web strategy, while keeping a clear line of communication between you and your stakeholders.
With Vidar’s broad experience with design and usability, he is responsible for strategising the use of digital design within Studio Vi.