Website design and development can be thought of as a means to an end: It’s a way to nicely package resources that you want visitors to have and then persuade them to do something whether it be buy, donate, or participate. At its best, a well-built, well-designed website achieves that end through the strategic use of content, images, functionalities, and integrations that are beneficial for both the user and for the website owner. The individuals who create these components are typically designers and developers, yet involving a marketing strategist has proven to be beneficial before, during, and after the website design process. Assembling a team complete with a marketing strategist, means that you get not only design and development expertise but also someone to approach your website project from the eyes of a salesperson, communicator, and brand ambassador.
If we look at website design as a deductive process, the first phase informs what will happen during the more precise design and development phases. This initial phase involves a discovery session, content audit, and a review of the messaging architecture. From those outcomes, the marketing strategist works with the client to create a strategy that is complete with goals and a figurative map of how to get where they need to be (What do they say, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?”). The marketing strategist closely shepherds these information-gathering steps and encourages discerning choices amidst the enormity of features and functionalities that are available. Additionally during this time, if the marketer finds that branding or content issues need to be addressed, they can help take care of them before the project moves deeper into production.
Design & Development
While the strategy answers the question of “What?” implementation answers the question of “How?” At this stage, the marketing strategist takes information from the discovery phase to inform the sitemap, information architecture, design, and functionalities. A marketing strategist brings efficiency to the project in that the upfront work they do enables them to learn a great deal about the client’s pain points, preferences, and goals and then take the relevant information to the rest of the team. This helps designers and developers get up to speed quickly and move efficiently into setting the creative direction and defining technical requirements. Coupled with all of the information that has been gathered up to this point, the team as a whole, is in an excellent position to complete the project with a solid, agreed-upon vision.
Much like taking home a newborn baby from the hospital, the question of “What now?” inevitably presents itself. The work of a marketing strategist doesn’t end when the website is launched—in fact, that’s when the work of driving visitors to the site begins. With the knowledge gained during the discovery, design, and development phases, the marketing strategist can work with the digital marketing team to leverage the website’s features and advise on search engine marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and more. As one of the team members who has been there from the beginning, the marketing strategist brings a lot of insight that can help inform online and offline marketing tactics—sort of a digital sherpa, if you will.
In addition to hard skills, the website design and development process requires soft skills such as listening, problem solving, and advising. Given the large amount of information that is gathered from the client in discovery and all of the features available to them, it’s helpful to have a team member like a marketing strategist who compiles and parses it all from the beginning. The strategist serves to advise the client on what is arguably one of their largest marketing tools and also brings relevant information to the rest of the team in a way that helps them make the best recommendations. Keeping the client’s goals top of mind from design to post-launch results in efficiencies of time, money, and workload.
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