Design is about achievements in the visual. Strategic Design is about creating marketing goals that define what these achievements should be and why. You will need strategic design and architecture for your website (the next step after your strategy). Probably, the following goals will be the focus of your strategic design and architecture:
- Communicate to the visitor immediately that he or she is in the right place
- Communicate what he or she can do next
You’re in the right place
To communicate to a visitor that he or she is in the right place, it must be true. This means we need the right person to come to the site in the first place. Then we need to speak directly to that person. Well, one great thing about the Web is that by building a site around a specific message you naturally recruit traffic that is seeking out that message (it’s the nature of Search).
Your site must also make the prospect feel immediately comfortable so that your level of professionalism is a non-issue. As a consumer, I am not in the right place if I feel uncomfortable. I’m not in the right store to buy food if I feel the environment would be a gross place to eat.
So, assuming that the visitor is the right person to be there, then to “Communicate to the visitor immediately that he or she is in the right place” means to communicate your:
In a nutshell… your brand.
Strategic Web Design is, to a large degree, about communicating these things all on the home page. Now, that doesn’t mean that a home page needs to be “texty” – every element of the presentation (including images, layout, text, and multimedia) must work together to present a whole message that is interpretable within 5 seconds, and it must communicate to the right person that he or she is, in fact, in the right place.
What to do next…
Communicating “what they can do next” is about allowing the visitor to your website to take an action that he will be rewarded for. This makes the experience of your site an effective one. For example, if someone is there simply to find your contact information, then he should understand immediately how to do that, how to use your site as a tool to accomplish his objective. Then, when he clicks on the “contact” button or link, he should be rewarded with the information he seeks. This may seem elementary, but consider other ways that your website could present an option for action and then reward the actor; it can get pretty elaborate.
To stay basic, you want to present:
- A clear organization of content
- An intuitive user interface
In other words, the visitor needs to know immediately what options of action are available and understand what will result from that action.
Your homepage is key
Your Homepage is your prime piece of marketing real estate. It communicates to the visitor if he or she is in the right place, and it provides the visitor with clear options of action based on what content is there on the site.
Thus to create an effective home page, you will need to go through a process of strategic exploration in your overall business, as well as generate ideas about what all will be on your website and why.