Great websites are achieved when designers have a very clear idea about the purpose of the site, its objectives and where they want to go with it. For this to happen, before you actually begin the process of design, you need to take the web design project through an extensive process of requirements gathering and analysis. Sadly, this is an often overlooked aspect of web design, with designers looking to waste no time in getting started on designing their website. This is a cardinal error because a website is built around a specific purpose. If you do not make an effort to understand what it is and why it’s important for your client, your design won’t be able to deliver its message successfully.
Importance of Requirement Gathering and Analysis in Website Design
Think of your website project as a question, and requirements gathering as a process of finding a solution, and you will realize its importance. When a client briefs you about his website project, you are getting an overview of what the client wants. Your client has a very clear idea about the objectives he wants the website to satisfy. But, for you the designer, just knowing the objectives isn’t enough. You need to look at the project holistically. You will need to ask plenty of questions before you get a very clear and in-depth idea of what the client expects you to deliver. Some of these questions include:
- What is the client’s business domain all about?
- Who are his competitors?
- How are his competitors’ websites?
- Who is his target audience?
- What are the expectations of this target audience vis-à-vis the client’s business?
- What are their expectations from your client’s website?
- What are their interest and preferences?
- What are the performance metrics of your site?
These and many other questions need to be answered before you actually get started on the design process. The answers to these questions will help you conceptualize a design that is both client oriented and user defined. This improves the chances of your website attracting more website traffic and increasing its conversion ratio. The process of requirements gathering and analysis gives you the answers you need.
The process of Requirements Gathering and Analysis in Website Design
Categorizing the Requirements
Categorize the requirements into ‘Client Requirements’, ‘User Requirements’ and ‘Functional Requirements’. By categorizing the requirements you ensure you gather data faster. You will be able to optimize your requirement gathering and get the answers you want.
Gather Client Requirements
What is it exactly that the client expects from the website? Yes, he must have already shared the project brief with you, but that was just an overview. As a designer, you now need to flesh his requirements out. You need to talk to the client and understand why he wants this website designed. How is this website going to address a particular need of the client and why does he think that a website is best suited to satisfy this need? The answers to this question will help you get into the clients mind vis-à-vis his website requirements. You would do well to remember that the client might not have any knowledge of web design whatsoever, so all your questions must be put to the client in layman’s language, which is very easy to understand.
The design of your website is the destination that you want to reach, and by gathering client requirements you will be able to map your road to this destination. There should be no ambiguity in your mind as to what the client wants, so make sure that you are fully aware of the client’s expectations from the project.
Gather User Requirements
What does the website’s end user expect from the project? That’s the definitive question which needs to be answered to ensure user spend some time on the website. As a designer, you need to design a website that is able to make an impression on the website’s visitors. So you need to identify the various design elements that will impact the user positively.
So, what is it that will tickle the interest of your website visitors? You need to identify the website’s target audience first up, and then get into their shoes. Think like they think. Better yet, ask them questions directly. Prepare a questionnaire whose core purpose is to figure out their expectations.
Some of the questions can include:
- What are you expectations from a real estate * website?
- How would you like the Home Page to be designed?
- What is the information you will expect from the site?
- What will prompt you to click on a call-to-action button on the site?
You get the drift. You can ask as many questions as you want, but the problem is what do you do if you don’t get to ask these questions? What then? The next best option will be to analyze competitor websites. Critique their strengths and weaknesses and take a look at the user interaction happening on their site. What are users doing on their site and how are they converting? Analyze and draw inspiration from your findings.
By gathering user requirements you are trying to understand what users will find easy and helpful to use. These days, you want to design user experiences rather than websites. So, you must know what users want and give it to them.
*used as an example
Gather Functional Requirements
After you have gathered client and user requirements, gather all those requirements into a single document. This document will serve as a reference point for your project. On the basis of this document create your sitemap. List down the pages that should be a part of your website and make sure you adhere to an information hierarchy. Once, you have your sitemap ready, start identifying the software and resources that will help you design your site. Software includes all the designing platforms you will use to create your website, any third-party media you might want to use etc. Resources on the other hand, include the people who you want to put in charge of specific stages of the project (if you are not working alone) and the stock photography, font etc. that you believe you need for the project.
This isn’t the end
The process of requirement gathering and analysis doesn’t end here. You need to take a close look at all the requirements you have so comprehensively gathered and convert them into project needs. The fact is, you will have tons of information on your hand, but not all of them can be put to use. Make no mistake, all of it is important, but not all of it can be used to conceptualize a website. All the information that you have gathered is your learning and you need to put this learning into practice. So perform an analysis of the information you have gathered and take a look at it through the prism of your website objectives.
Not every client requirement can be met neither can every user requirement. Think of what is important and what isn’t and perform an information audit. Use only the most useful information for website conceptualizing and planning the design process. Requirements gathering and analysis is both a process of collection and thinking. You need to get a handle on both, to design a great website.
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