The more I research Web sites—and I've checked out many thousands—the more I realize that the best ones unite many important factors in a way that is difficult to describe.
They just feel right—as if the creator of the site cares a great deal and wants that enthusiasm to shine through.
Like a sprinkling of fairy dust, the effect is important but indescribable but it most certainly includes a mix of both art and science.
Here are the five important elements that you must artfully bring together to create a great Web site:
Strategy: I'm convinced that the key to all marketing is to understand buyer personas. (Buyer personas also include those who may donate, subscribe, join, or vote). Armed with a) information about buyer personas and b) your marketing goals will reveal your strategy.
Content: The content you offer (text, images, video, research reports, webinars, ebooks, white papers, charts, graphs, and more) is the most critical (and most frequently downplayed) element of your site.
Design: As you think about design, consider your organization's personality and how design works to enhance your image.
Technology: Obviously an essential element is what technologies will be used at the back end.
Measurement: Once you launch your site you need to measure and make improvements. It is best to build measurement capabilities into the new site from the start.
A well-executed Web site, like a classical music concert, is an effective combination of many elements.
But on the Web, many organizations spend much more effort on the design and technology aspects than on the content itself. Don't fall into that trap.
Perfecting that critical mix of strategy, content, design, technology, and measurement is where the art comes in.
If you're considering working with agencies to help build your site, make certain that you know where their bias lies. If you are planning to use an advertising agency, then you need to know about digital masturbation. Is your agency a design agency? Then you need to assert the strategy and content elements as being critical because your agency will drive everything based on design.
Adding personality and authenticity and reaching particular buyer personas makes the challenge even more daunting.
Just remember, there is no absolute right or wrong way to create a Web site; each organization has an individual and important story to tell.