To build a large skyscraper, an architect needs to come up with a design first. Similarly, a detailed blueprint is essential before you start creating a large website. And it is the responsibility of the website architect to come up with this blueprint.
The responsibility of the website architect goes beyond that of the user interface designers or the information architecture professionals. Though they need to collaborate with everyone involved, the website architect is the actual concept designer.
An ambitious concept design project for a large website requires a lot of work. And the in-depth knowledge and practical skills are necessary to do this. Along with this, the architect needs to have a logical and analytical mind to come up with instant solutions.
Here is a step-by-step guide to how the website architectural process works.
Get a detailed design brief. It’s important to get as many details from your client as you can before you begin. The data collection may take a day or two, but make it thorough to ensure you understand the client’s goals and expectations.
Let your client, or even better the decision-makers, talk about what they want. Listen attentively to everything they say and take notes. Also, make sure they can summarize their expectations. Find out as much as you can about their target audience and competitors.
Define the website goals. Without specific objectives, a project may soon lose its direction. You also need to have a clear idea about what spells success for the client; otherwise, what you and the client deem to be a successful project may not be the same thing.
Apart from being specific, the goals need to be relevant and quantifiable. But don’t promise to deliver unattainable results. This can lead to problems later. Also, make sure everything is time-bound to keep things running smoothly.
Know the target market. It’s essential to conduct market surveys and research studies to find out everything about the potential users of the website including:
- Wants and needs of the users
- Socio-demographic traits such as age, sex, education and occupation
- Psychological personalities such as lifestyle, temperament and philosophies
- Geographic location pointers
After you have this data, it’s necessary to create personas from each of the user groups.
Analyze the competition. The business may have direct or indirect competitors, and you need to have adequate data about each one of them. This will help you learn what you need to do and what you must not do.
A detailed analysis of their strengths can help you identify what the competitors are doing right. And you can learn from them to combat your own threats. Their weaknesses can transform into opportunities, learn from them too.
Create a problem and solution matrix. What is the goal of the user? And what problem does the user face in the path to achieve their goal? You need to have a clear idea about the two to offer a solution for it.
Suppose the user wants to buy a night cream, but has no idea about which one to buy. The website needs to provide a solution to the problem. It needs to guide the user to understand their skin type, the night cream that suits it, and the purchase decision.
Work out the flaws. Identify possible scenarios in which the personas you have created take action on the site. A probable user flow chart can help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of the site design.
Once you have a clear and comprehensive idea about this, you need to focus on the flaws in the user flows. If something obstructs the flow, it’s important that you work out a solution at this stage.
Find the interrelations between sections and features. Visual cues help in the establishment of ideas and their hierarchies, connections, and suggestive details. Mind mapping can help you achieve this.
When you have a bird’s eye view of the ideas and concepts and their relations, it becomes easier to ascertain the place of each element at the right place. And you can create the superstructure of the site’s sections and site features.
Now, you are ready to create the information architecture of the website.
Do you create “architectural blueprints” for your websites?
Michael Evans is currently promoting MotoCMS website templates, which help business organizations build a robust online presence.