How Strategic Planning in Web Design Leads To Breakthrough Ideas
When approached strategically, a website redesign gives you the chance to address past problems and capitalize on new opportunities. It’s also the perfect time to step your business up to the next level and vault past the competition with creative breakthrough ideas.
Creativity is a skill that takes time to develop and repeated effort to strengthen. To optimize your website’s conversion potential requires a creative mindset to generate unconventional ideas that challenge traditionalist thinking, question assumptions, and disrupt established norms. To make an impact, your web design can’t be looked at as “just another project” on a to-do list. It needs to be on your mission-critical list with priority over other initiatives, supported by strategic planning, resources, energy, and attention needed to make it successful.
Here are a few fundamental principles to get your mind into “creative shape.”
- Use divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is defined as a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. When asked for input, feedback, or direction regarding your website, think of and respond with multiple alternatives based on various scenarios and outlooks instead of a single correct answer.
- Connect the dots. Steve Jobs once said, “creativity is just connecting things.” The most creative ideas come from non-obvious connections between seemingly unrelated things. Make brain-storming part of your strategic planning sessions to expand your universe of possible combinations, look for common denominators across disciplines, concepts, and things. Then connect and combine the results in novel ways to broaden your range of viable options.
- Leverage your knowledge. If you already have a good understanding of your company, products, services, category, competitors, and customers – you’re halfway there. The other half of the puzzle comes from seeing all these points through your customer’s eyes.
- Use a “beginner’s mind”. To see the world through your customers’ eyes, you have to first be aware of your pre-existing assumptions or processes that exist simply because they always have. Then imagine yourself as an outsider and forget all you know about your business. Pre-existing biases are rooted in knowledge, accessed through memory, and could blind you to your customer’s needs. When we are too familiar with things, they are taken for granted and no longer visible on a conscious level. (Similar to furniture in your home, driving a daily route and not remembering all that happened between points A and B, etc.) First-time encounters are approached with eyes wide-open at a cautious pace. Get into exploration and investigation mode. Slow down. Pay attention. Notice everything with hypersensitivity to take in the nuances and subtleties about your brand, your website, and your company – as if you’d just discovered them for the first time. Your ultimate goal is to achieve “shoshin” – a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind”. The reason being, “in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind, there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki. This creative mindset and strategic approach to web design will help you provide effective feedback, suggestions, and direction for the strongest deliverable possible.
- Cross-pollinate internal ideas. Despite the functional differences between web design, branding and sales, they are three legs to the same stool, each relying on the other for support, strength, and sustainability, while sharing the same ultimate goal of growing your business. Infuse your web design project with your branding and sales efforts as part of a collective communication continuum. Think of each as an extension of the other so they are consistent in the portrayal of your business and the way you’re perceived online and offline.
A web redesign project gives you a reason to focus on the future and reflect on the past so that you could figure out creative ways to attract more visitors and increase your conversion rate. No matter your business model or target market, your website needs to speak to your customers’ needs and offer conversion points at each stage of their buying cycle. Develop the most effective website by implementing these strategic planning tactics that allow your web team to break out of normal conventions and beliefs, to look at your web design with the fresh eyes of a first-time visitor, and to use divergent thinking to come up with the broadest array of viable options.