“Our website sucks and we desperately need a new one.” I hear this all the time. As a visual designer, I’m usually hired because of the product I provide. A website, a logo, an infographic. For many organizations I work with, they know they need these tools. Their website is out of date or they want to create an attractive annual report. Their goal feels tangible: a communications piece they are proud to share.
I love creating websites, and I also see a greater opportunity. The process to getting to a new website can be a changing experience as much as the product itself is. When I think about the process I provide, I strive to make it a transformational one for my clients. The way to get to the end can show us insights along the way.
A website is one of the main communications tool an organization has. You invest valuable resources of time and money in creating it. I don’t take that investment lightly, and the conversations that emerge from the process can be invaluable not only to the end product, but to the people involved. Who are our audiences? Are our programs page and our mission page in alignment? On the homepage, should we lead with what we’ve done or where we’re going? The answers to questions are not always obvious. Grappling with these questions can help leadership and staff discuss and get clarity on goals and direction.
Organizations of any kind have a range of audiences: communities, funders, staff, volunteers, donors, clients. In an ideal world we would have feedback from all these people at the beginning, middle and end. The reality is that it often falls by the wayside as the details of launching a website set in. One of my jobs as a creative strategist is to keep bringing us back to your audiences. This can be direct, through interviews and surveys, or indirect, through user personas. What we learn from listening to these voices can go beyond what we put on the website.
If you’re thinking about redesigning your organization’s website, try thinking beyond the content and colors. You might be surprised by how much there is for you to learn.