MAKING A WEB PROJECT GUIDE:

the Importance of Clear, Strategic THINKING BEFORE YOU EVEN look for YOUR WEB DESIGNER

AMY JACOBUS

Wordsmith, baker of layer cakes, frequenter of cutesy cafes, marketing brain and exercise enthusiast – among other joyous things.

WHEN YOU’RE IN THE WEEDS OF RUNNING YOUR COMPANY, IT’S HARD TO STEP BACK & SEE ALL YOU NEED YOUR WEBSITE TO BE.

What are your goals? What are your core values? Who are the people you’re trying to reach?

A lot of artists, nonprofits and small businesses literally don’t have time to think through this — and then it becomes way harder to access your mission and messaging priorities when you’re in the thick of designing a new website.

Which is why I get so excited when I get a chance to create clear, cohesive plans for clients who are starting a web redesign or embarking on their – gasp – first website ever!

Call it whatever you want… Creating a website project guide, a discovery document, a presentation of company information, perception, beliefs and objectives… It’s a chance to really dig in and find out what matters to you, what matters to your audience and how you can reach real goals through your website. It’s clarifying, energizing and empowering.

Because I had such a great time working with Sparkle Theatricals on creating a website project guide and RFP, I wanted to share with you our process and discoveries.

Establishing Goals

Sparkle Theatricals is a fairly new company, established in 2015. They have already created and presented several successful immersive productions, securing generous funding from grant-makers and establishing relationships with diverse audiences.

Sparkle Theatricals has relied solely on a Facebook Business page as their hub for online communications. They knew that they needed to center their digital marketing around a new website to lend more legitimacy to their work and to provide a better portal for the group’s many projects.

A website for Sparkle Theatricals needs to reflect the company’s mission, values and aesthetic in addition to providing greater functionality for communications and upcoming events. It needs to be a path to ticket purchases for shows, donations to the company’s new projects, show the company’s commitment to and command of their work to please funders, and educate audiences about immersive productions since many of their ticket buyers don’t know what that medium really means.

Our Process

Company Audit

We did thorough research into the company’s work to date and their current marketing and communications strategy, including their online presence and visual identity. We dug deep into Sparkle Theatricals’ vision and mission, the goals and priorities of the organization’s co-artistic directors and executive director, and their understanding of their audiences.

Competitive Survey

We created a list of colleagues and competitors and took a look at what those companies are doing with their visual branding and online presence. We compiled information from three groups: their direct peers, more developed organizations that have work that inspires them, and other local arts institutions or sporting events competing for their potential audiences’ time and attention.

Staff & Audience Surveys

We conducted surveys for Sparkle Theatricals’ inner circle (dancers, artists, funders, staff) as well as their ticket buyers. Survey results illuminated that Sparkle Theatricals is inventive, unique & fun, and confirmed that they need a professional presence online to better serve the community and increase credibility of its creative endeavors.

THESE exercises lead you to the info that every company needs to know BEFORE WORKING ON THEIR WEB DESIGN.

The Results

After all of this information was compiled, it was clear what content and goals Sparkle Theatricals’ website would have at its center. It was easier to note what they would need from a designer and developer when ready to dive into the creation of the site, and it acts as a guide for that entire process. Our web design project guide presented our compiled research, walked through user personas and clearly explained the goals and preferences of the organization.

We ended up with a guide that detailed:

  • Goals for the site
  • The mission and values of the company
  • Stakeholders who have a say in decision-making
  • Brand style guidelines, if any
  • How they want to be perceived (in relation to current perception of the company)
  • Their intended audience and marketing strategies that relate to the site
  • How Sparkle stacks up against colleagues and competition
  • A few distinct user personas of current and desired website visitors
  • The content they wanted to live on the site

While every company is different, this type of exercise is incredibly important for all of them, because it leads you to the core of who you’re looking to communicate with online and why. It helps clarify your goals and target audience to any potential oustide vendors and can provide a framework for understanding where your company is looking to go in aesthetic terms as well.

This guide can be referred to in other marketing projects, too, from a fundraising campaign to a Facebook campaign. The audience, the style, the mission and positioning are there!

“happy, organized, and empowering.”

Sparkle Theatricals’ experience developing a Website Project Guide with Amy Jacobus Marketing was happy, organized, and empowering. Amy and her team worked closely with us to take stock of what Sparkle Theatricals has already accomplished and then create a sustainable, inspiring plan for our company’s future website. We appreciate Amy’s candid feedback and constant encouragement. Working with her has helped us better understand our organization’s identity, along with those of our artist collaborators and patrons. Thanks to Amy, we are well on our way to launching a captivating website for Sparkle Theatricals.

– Alejandra Iannone, Co-Director, Sparkle Theatricals