By: Jason Anderson

If there was ever a time to dive headfirst into a website design project, 2021 is that time. As stay-at-home guidelines push businesses further into the virtual realm, compelling online touchpoints have never been more critical. Plus, with so many big projects on hold, this unexpected downtime presents a great opportunity to undertake a website launch or refresh.

It’s tempting to seek out shortcuts to fast-track the website design process, especially with COVID fueling a particularly scrappy approach to business decisions. Perhaps you’ve considered repurposing one of your other brands’ site layouts or replicating features from a competitor’s website. But while those are great places to look to for inspiration, they shouldn’t be the primary drivers of your design process. Every company possesses a unique business approach and a distinct set of short- and long-term objectives, meaning that a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach simply won’t cut it when it comes to website design.

So where exactly should you start your website design process?

Start with strategy

At Dotted Line, we find ourselves constantly reciting the mantra “everything starts with strategy.” Strategy highlights which challenges a new website should address, and it serves as a gut check underscoring every phase of the creative process. When in doubt, asking “Is this on strategy?” can differentiate between which site features are truly essential and which are just flashy bells and whistles.

Sometimes a strategy-first approach requires hard cuts. When a client struggles to explain how a site component fits into their strategic roadmap, that’s a clear indication that a better solution exists, just waiting to be tapped. Business leaders must remind themselves that “all of our competitors are doing it” or “a customer suggested it” isn’t enough justification on its own. Committing to staying on-strategy pushes a company to think critically about the role its website plays in the customer journey and lays the foundation for the most relevant and effective brand storytelling touchpoints.

Flying Phase’s website is a great example of the branded through-line resulting from a strategy-first approach. While the world of financial consulting is often marked by rigidity, Flying Phase is anything but. From its cutting-edge name—derived from a pioneering America’s Cup design that literally lifts elite racing vessels out of the water—to their forward-thinking “business beyond the horizon” positioning, Flying Phase stands out from stiffer, more traditional competition. This differentiation strategy is impossible to overlook in their website design: marked by a stunning hero video and a vibrant color palette, Flying Phase’s sleek site goes hand-in-hand with their innovative approach to consulting. In this case, Flying Phase’s strong strategic backbone proved key to setting their site firmly apart from other industry players.

Take it in phases

We think of website design as a dynamic, phased process. A static site that only addresses a client’s immediate needs isn’t practical in the long-term—the most effective websites grow alongside a company as its business evolves and its brand story deepens.

A phased approach is especially crucial when we work with trailblazing startups launching a website for the first time. While established companies often initiate design projects armed with an arsenal of multimedia assets and branded copy, burgeoning startups enter into the design process virtually from square one. These websites need to be flexible enough to tell an abbreviated brand story in the short-term and accommodate new brand assets, features, and copy as they arise three, six, and twelve months down the line.

EDai’s new site accomplishes exactly that. After months of fine-tuning a tech-based approach to economic development, EDai celebrated its official public launch in early 2021, and is still in the throes of establishing its brand story. In the meantime, they needed a clean-cut, polished website to promote their proprietary LocatED tool and consulting services, while leaving room to expand their online storytelling in the future. The resulting design ticks both boxes, nimbly telling the story of EDai’s consulting firepower and laying the foundation for adding thought leadership content as the business and team grow. The clean, straightforward design mirrors the ease of use of their tool and the direct professionalism at the heart of their company ethos, all while remaining adaptable as EDai’s online content evolves.

A path to the most effective website design

Since no two companies approach their strategy or scaling plans in exactly the same way, it follows that no two website designs should look exactly the same. But developing a website from scratch that’s laser-focused on your business needs is no small task. Synthesizing strategy and anticipating future developments (while maintaining focus and staying in-scope!) almost always requires expert guidance, which is where we can help. We’re no strangers to website design, and we pride ourselves on meeting clients where they are, regardless of business stage, project timeline, or design complexity. Plus, we work to cultivate a diverse extended team with wide-ranging capabilities. Whether your focus is content strategy, user experience design, or anything in between, we tap the right experts to get the job done. At the end of the day, what matters most to us—and you!—is crafting the most effective website to support your specific business needs.

Have questions for us about how to kick off your website design project? We’re ready to help. Click here to reach out.

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