Graphic of a Venn Diagram depicting three overlapping circles. The first circle represents Institutional Needs; the second represents User Needs, and the third is Content. The area where all equally overlap is labeled "Ideal Web Strategy.".

Building Your Strategy

A strong strategy assesses the following questions and uses the answers to inform how to approach creating your website. The effectiveness of your strategy is the the foundation for your site success. Websites that do not elevate in outcomes invariably did not have rigourous effort put into the strategy.

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The Discovery Process: Understanding Institutional and User Needs

For some, producing a new website is a simple task. Yet others may find it to be a daunting, complex process. Whatever the skill level of the individuals in your department who are involved with the project, it is crucial to the site’s success that team members are on the same page. This means knowing exactly what it is you are trying to achieve through your new website.

  • Where am I now? Assess the current state of your website. What information does it currently contain and what is the quality of the information? This is the Web content audit.   
  • Where do I want to be? Identify where you want your website to go; for example, what needs must your website achieve? What messages or information do you need your users to absorb? Talking with key stakeholders will help you develop a shared vision of what you want your final website to achieve. This is known as a business strategy.
  • What do users want us to be? Consider the people who will be using your website—what are their needs? You may know what you want to tell them, but it is equally important to understand the needs of your audience, and how these needs might be very different from what you initially envisioned.
  • How do we get to where we BOTH want to go? Consider how to satisfy your needs and the needs of your audience.  You will also need to think about how you are going to get buy-in and support for this initiative within your department.

By understanding your organization’s needs and core messages, as well as the needs of your users, your website will better serve both your organization and your visitors. The end result will be to realize the outcomes you hope to obtain from your new website.

Maybe your department is looking to produce content that will attract the best and brightest faculty or staff. Perhaps your goal is to show potential staff members the benefits of working for your organization. Maybe you hope to attract new donors, or retain existing contributors.

Whatever the desired result, it’s important to have a focus. The Discovery process of the Digital Communications Transformation helps you achieve that.

This is where you will employ research to inform the business strategy—or the key needs—for your new website. You’ll want all content on your site to strategically align with your business strategy.

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