Developing a New Website: It’s Not as Daunting as You Think

Colorful paper confetti being blown at the camera by children

Here is a fact we all know to be true: technology is always changing. Did you just buy the latest iPhone? Don’t get attached–something newer and better is inevitably going to come along within the next six months.

Websites are no exception to this ever-changing landscape. Websites we visit on a daily basis are constantly changing to add new features, levels of interactivity, and other bells and whistles that set them apart from the sea of websites that fill the internet.  

Because of this, developing a new website can be a bit overwhelming. How can you possibly create a new website that is going to break through the noise of the 100+ other websites you come into contact with everyday? How can you make an impact?

This past summer, VIVA decided to revamp our website. But rather than focus on adding new bells and whistles, we wanted to make an impactful website by keeping the focus on our work and the impact it has had. The process we employed was creativity-focused, intentional, and sometimes slow-paced, yet the result was a new website that we believe accurately captures our brand and the work we do. Here’s what we did, and what we learned during the process:

Step One: Intentional, Strategic Conversations

This first step may not be surprising, given our line of work, but even we have to remind ourselves to slow down and focus on strategy first. There is tremendous value in thinking through key strategic questions before developing and launching a new website. For VIVA, we met internally to discuss questions such as: How do we effectively talk about who we are and what we do? How do we want the user to feel when they are on the site? How do we showcase our work in an effective, interactive way? Having these conversations and answering these difficult questions first made the rest of the process much, much easier.

Step Two: Develop Effective Content That Tells a Story

I know, easier said than done. But, we found that having those strategic and intentional conversations at the beginning of the process provided clear guidelines for developing effective copy that got down to the essence of who VIVA is and what we are all about. When talking about our work, we decided to employ an almost “storytelling” method that shares our different projects, our unique approaches to those projects, and the results of our work. We were also intentional in keeping the copy brief and to the point–always thinking back to the user and what information would be most useful to them.

Step Three: Mood Boards

We believe that mood boards are a great way to start the creative process of a website because they allow you to think about the creative aspects (i.e. look and feel) of a website in a concrete way. For VIVA, we developed three different mood boards to choose from that tapped into different aspects of our brand and company culture. We ended up selecting a mood board that we called “Human Spirit,” which embraced color and showcased the positive human impact of VIVA’s work.

Step Four: Put it All Together

Once steps one through three were accomplished, all that was left to do was put it together, working closely with our website developer to translate our vision into a powerful design, and then into reality.

As a staff member that was deeply involved in this process, I walked away recognizing that intentionality matters, and a thoughtful process leaves you with the most fruitful results. As far as the ever-changing technology landscape? At the end of the day, we didn’t necessarily walk away with the trendiest site on the web; instead, we feel confident that the website we developed is strategic, bold, and embodies the essence of VIVA.

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