For those who are not au fait with Star Wars (namely me), Alderaan was a planet featured in the films, an altogether attractive place to live with stunning mountains and a polar sea!

Unfortunately, Alderaan came to an explosive end and was reduced to little more than a cloud of asteroids.

What’s Alderaan got to do with websites?

A fair question! During our User Experience (UX) workshops with clients we present a range of exercises to ignite discussion and extract vital information on project objectives. The Alderaan Test is part of our UX toolkit, we use this exercise regularly and it really helps clients to focus on website purpose.

Created by our MD Andrew (an avid Star Wars fan, if you hadn’t gathered), it asks clients to ‘picture your website as Alderaan’ – post explosive end, picture your site as an entity wiped completely from history – now consider what your customers can no longer do as a result?

Examples we hear frequently; our customers; ‘can’t get in touch with us’, ‘don’t know when we’re open’, ‘can’t browse our product range’ or ‘can’t find where we are located’. Once we’ve covered the practical issues discussion usually moves to bigger issues; ‘we lose our share of voice in our industry sector’ and ‘we can’t promote our latest marketing campaign’.

The exercise is an excellent way for clients to look at their website differently – instead of listing the benefits of their website, they begin to consider what they stand to lose if their new site doesn’t deliver upon all requirements. They quickly realise there is a lot at stake!

Try ‘The Alderaan Test’ to get your new website project off to a productive start! We have also rounded up a few additional questions that we ask clients consider at project outset:

Do you know who your target Audience is?

Some clients have a clear understanding of their target audience; who they are, what device they use most, what time of day they’re most active online. It’s OK if you’re not clear on this or would just like to validate the assumptions you have surrounding your target audience. Incorporating User Experience and Insights research at the beginning of the project which will answer any questions or concerns you have surrounding identifying your target Audience.

Who will be involved in the project?

It’s important to understand who will be involved in the project at the outset. Identifying key stakeholders will ensure buy in is achieved and help clarify which individuals need to be included at each phase of the project.

Is the project multi-phased?

It can be daunting to launch a new website with an array of new features and functionality, many clients prefer to take a phased approach and roll new features out in stages to ensure website management teams have time to gain experience with new tools and features.

Think about the ‘must have’ and the ‘nice to have’ features for your new website. Consider the ‘must haves’ as Phase 1 and then additional ‘nice to have’ features can be rolled out in further phases. Making new functionality and features more manageable for not only internal teams but also for your website users.

Have you considered your website content?

Will there be content migration from your old site as part of the project? Or will there be new content created? Or perhaps a bit of both? Content format is an important consideration at the beginning of a website project. Giving your Digital partner a steer on the format of the content you will be adding to your new site will help guide placement and presentation! For example; will your new site have lots of videos, animations, high resolution images or downloadable resources?

Does your new website need to integrate with any external systems?

Understanding integration requirements in the early stages of a website project will ensure there is adequate technical resource assigned to planning and managing these integrations. Whether it be an ecommerce application, analytics tool or database lookup – make sure you are aware of the external platforms that your site needs to communicate with in order to operate successfully.

What are your competitors doing?

Have you looked at what the competition are doing? Not because you want to replicate their website but to discover any missed opportunities that could be incorporated within the new website project. There may be an opportunity to highlight unique selling points that differentiate your business from its competitors and you can prioritise this information accordingly.

We invest a significant amount of time at the beginning of our projects to understand website requirements. We would be happy to discuss your new website plans and offer advice and recommendations. If you would like to talk to us about your next project, contact our Client Services team here.

Image credit Wikipedia.