One of the things that organizations building their first web site, or rebuilding after a scrapped first web site, need to remember is that audience perception is adept at this point. It won’t take much time for a visitor to determine your priorities of your web site because they’ve seen so many, and they’ve learned to recognize the statement you make with content and design.
This is why so many folks talk about transparency, because it’s becoming there’s more there on your web site than you may realize. What you provide on your site, and how you provide it, tells the priorities of your organization online. Let me say that again: Your online priorities are naked to the world on your web site.
Why is this? Because unlike a marketing brochure, or a customer service call, the value/priorities/reach of an organization is inferred by the visitor while on the web site. A visitor can and will read into your site… What does the marketing and sales department want the marketplace to do? What can the customer/member service department provide online? How much effort is this organization making online? What are the project or market priorities for the organization at this point in time? How big is the reach as an organization? Does the website feel like a standalone or part of the business?
Those all, eventually, relate to the organization’s priorities for having a web site.
So, when you go for the first design, or the redesign, keep that in mind. Your priorities will appear. So rather than starting with a map of what content is easy to attain, start with your priorities for the web site. The initial release doesn’t have to provide all those priorities, but ought to indicate them without specifics. And treat the site as a process, not as a project. The results will be better – and better understood by the organization – if approached that way.