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Website strategy vs website design: What’s the real difference?

A website is one of the most powerful ways in which a business or individual can reach their audience. With this in mind, website strategy and website design are conceptually different, but both should always be involved in the process of redesigning a website.

Website strategy vs website design: What’s the real difference? Blog Feature

Tim Ostheimer

Sr. Front-end Developer, 8+ Years of Web Development on HubSpot and Various CMSs

August 17th, 2020 min read

A website is one of the most powerful ways in which a business or individual can reach their audience. However, there are many potential benefits and purposes of a website unique to the needs of its owner.

For a business, a website usually serves as the digital face or storefront.

It tends to be used to provide information and resources to customers and to educate them about the products and services being offered. It also helps facilitate communication between the company and its customers or leads through direct communication or content funnels and marketing automation.

🔎 Related: Ultimate website redesign guide for businesses

For an individual, on the other hand, one’s website is typically unique to their profession and personal goals. An artist may use it to show their portfolio of work, while a public speaker may use it to share testimonials and availability.

Regardless of who or what it is, the benefits of a website are determined by its purpose and what value it offers to the user.

With this in mind, website strategy and website design are conceptually different, but both should always be involved in the process of redesigning a website.

So, what makes a website successful?

To create a successful website, you first have to determine what success means. This will be different for every business just as what a website does will be different.

Look at the current state of your business to identify areas which could be improved using a website as a tool. 

If you’re having trouble finding new business, for example, you might want to focus on content creation and SEO to help expand and attract your audience online. If you’re having trouble selling your product or services, you may want to show users all of the benefits of using your product or working with your company. 

If your website eliminates your pain points and helps boost revenue, it is likely successful.

So where do you start? — With a website strategy.

What is a website strategy and why is it important?

Once you’ve outlined the basics for what would make your new website successful, next you would determine how to make it happen. This is where a website strategy helps refine your wishlist into a plan which will be used throughout the entire project.

A website strategy is a plan which elaborates on all of the aspects of what the website will have in a very specific way. 

This should include a sitemap with a list of pages and the navigation hierarchy, keywords and the URLs of pages, and even a list of what sections might be needed on each of the most important pages.

🔎 Related: How much should a website strategy cost?

This step is still important even if you already have a website and are just looking to rebuild or redesign it. Your goal is to figure out what it currently does well and what it doesn’t to determine what needs to be done. 

You don’t have to come up with measurable goals right at the start of the process, but ensure your ideas are realistic and be as specific as possible.

The act of preparing all of this information allows you to gather your initial ideas, revise them to be more specific, and prioritize them to help determine a realistic timeline which shows you where to focus your efforts. 

So, how is this different from a website design and how are they used together?

While a website strategy helps you determine what needs to be built, a website design is the actual visualization of this plan and how the interface will be used to implement it. 

For this reason, it should be no surprise that every website design or redesign project needs a strategy.

A website strategy is primarily used to determine the structure of content on a webpage or throughout the website. It is focused around the value or the goals of the content and how it fits into your conversion paths. It’s sometimes even as specific as defining some of the exact language used in parts of a page.

A website design, on the other hand, takes that content and arranges it into a visually appealing interface which is intuitive to users both in terms of readability as well as usability. 

Even if the content is clear, concise, and well written, a poorly designed interface could distract users or make your brand seem untrustworthy, and vice versa. 

How does IMPACT’s website redesign process involve these?

At IMPACT, we incorporate both of these elements by first, having our website content and design experts review your existing website to identify areas for improvement. 

This process usually involves looking at things like the sitemap structure, content, user experience, and analytics of the website. Sometimes a website redesign isn’t the only solution to a problem so we consider all options, when building a strategy, before making any decisions.

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For clients who already know they need a new website or plan to rebuild their existing one, we work towards creating a Website Blueprint before going into a website design. 

Our Website Blueprint is a more detailed version of what every website strategy should include. It outlines the navigation structure, specific page strategies, SEO keywords, suggested language and content, and the expected cost of what it will all take.

We create a plan for the website redesign which is entirely customized to your company, focusing on its unique aspects such as your products and services, pricing, branding, and customers.

One of the greatest benefits of working with IMPACT is that you can work with us to create a Website Blueprint before hiring us to do the design and development. 

This allows you to experience working with us first hand to ensure we are aligned aesthetically and strategically before making a larger commitment.

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