Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Determine Your Needs

Determining Your Audience | Using Technology | Your Content

Make the right choices to optimize your site and to minimize costs

There are a number of factors that need to be considered when developing an effective website. These need to be weighed both independently and interdependently.

What are your goals for the site? What do you think the site will accomplish? How will you know if you've succeeded?

Determine what are needs rather than wants. Your budget and your intended audience will also determine some of the parameters.

There are several important aspects to the design process as we work together:

  • A distinctive look to the site.
  • A compatible look and feel to your other promotional material and if these materials need updating.
  • A plan that includes goals, approval authority, testing and launch strategy as well as how to incorporate site maintenance and future updates.
  • A review your future plans and goals so that the site design can accommodate anticipated changes.

Starting the Discussion

You'll want to be more general at the start to determine the overall project scope. Be sure to include your current and future plans.

As the discussion proceeds, we'll move more into specifics and how we can best accomplish your goals within your budget.

Once we know the overall plan, we need to decide upon some specifics.

Sharing Each Other's Expertise

You probably know more about your business or organization than I do, but getting the right message across will depend upon how well you can communicate your requirements.

I'll do my best to communicate the technical considerations in plain language.

Key Elements

What is that the impression you want your site visitors to have?

There are a number of key elements that we'll need to address, including:

  • Who is your target audience? What are their needs? How well do they use technology?
  • What is your message? Is it static or dynamic?
  • Who is your competition? What advantages or disadvantages do you have?
  • Are there sales, subscriptions or memberships?
  • How often does content change? What causes the changes to content?
  • Are you already engaged in social media like Facebook and Twitter?
  • Do you have a blog? Do you need one?
  • What is your budget? Does it include allocations for site updates and changes?
  • Do you or your staff have the time and inclination to commit to maintaining a blog or social media?
  • What results do you anticipate the new or updated website will produce?
  • How will you measure success?

Answers to these questions will in turn determine factors like:

  • site structure and layout (including navigation);
  • the need for e-commerce elements;
  • whether a blog or social media makes sense for you;
  • site content, interactivity, & technology; and
  • how the site content will be managed.

We need to be realistic about your goals, capabilities and expectations. Not all factors are in our control, but we can focus on what we are able to control.

Be sure to voice any constraints up front: budget limitations, timelines, personnel capabilities or anything else that could sidetrack the project.

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What About Technology?

Some content (such as video) has technical requirements. Others (such as infographics) require specialized knowledge or outside help.

What will work depends upon your audience, the unique content you can provide and your budget.

Video is Compelling

Traditionally, most sites have been compositions of text and graphics (images) but video is a powerful way to present your product or story.

However, videos that auto-start are becoming a problem on the Web and can turn off potential customers.

Sales Staff Videos

If you or your employees are very effective with people, a video of them serving customers or speaking about resolving customer issues can make the experience more personal for visitors.


YouTube and similar sites provide an economic way to upload and convert video to a usable format that can be linked to or embedded into your site.


Infographics can provide your visitors with a new way to share information about your product or service with friends and contacts.

An example is this CASL infographic:

“Worried it's Spam? 5 Things to Look For” infographic -- click to learn more.

Meet an Emotional Need

Infographics require some thought and work best when they satisfy an emotional need as well as a technical one.

You Need a Graphic Artist

Infographics are created by graphic artists.

I maintain relationships with professionals in various areas of expertise if you don't have access to your own.

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to discuss my services!

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Who is Your Audience?

The more we know about your target audience, the more certain we can be about our choices.

Visitor Demographics

Demographics will determine what elements are necessary for the success of your project. The more you know about your demographics will allow you to select options that are better suited to the majority of your intended users.

  • Are you serving a known user base like the members of a club, association or organization?
  • Are they younger, older or a combination?
  • Is gender relevant?
  • Do you have special needs for accessibility?

Identifying your target audience will help to determine what sort of web presence you need and the sort of technology the site needs to address.


Tools like Google Analytics can allow you to massage changes to your site to better accommodate actual visitors but there are issues.

  • You need to have the budget to fine tune your site on an regular basis.
  • The necessary scripts add to the load time for your site and are increasingly blocked by users.

Your perceived audience will determine much of the site design including whether technology will work for you.

People are getting more concerned with their privacy and the tools used to collect that information, including site analytics.

Tools like Ghostery are becoming more common and can disable analytics, perhaps skewing the data you're collecting.

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Your Content

We need to determine the sort of content you want to present and how it might be used.

It is important that you provide all the text, images and video content before work can begin on the site.

I cannot ethically commit to a timeline without having these materials.

Is it Yours?

You need to ensure that you have the legal right to use the content you provide.

Legal teams search the Web looking for infractions. The costs of including content “found on the Internet” can be very high.

See Copyright — Who Owns the Content?

What's Your Message?

The content on your site is determined by the sort of message you want to convey as well as the needs of your visitors.

Your content needs to enhance your other advertising and branding but should take advantage of the benefits the Web has to offer, including technology that your audience finds compelling.

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to discuss my services!

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Related Pages

These other pages discuss the various aspects of designing a site:

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Updated: May 3, 2018