Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Design Criteria

Determining your needs

What are Your Goals? | What's Your Message?
What is Your Market? | Your Content
Assessing Technologies

Make the right choices to optimize your site and to minimize costs

Starting the Discussion

We'll want to be more general at the start of discussions to determine the overall project scope. Be sure to include your current and future plans.

As the discussion proceeds, we'll move into specifics and how we can best accomplish your goals within your budget.

Once we have fixed the overall plan, we need to decide upon some specifics.

Sharing Each Other's Expertise

You probably know more about your business or organization than I do, but getting the right message across will depend upon how well you can communicate your requirements in plain language that I can use for developing your site.

I'll do my best to communicate the technical considerations in plain language.

Not a Business?

On this page I'll frequently refer to business requirements, but similar qualities could apply to a club, organization or hobby.

What are Your Goals?

You can start by making a list of the things that you want your site to accomplish and how you will measure success.

Once you're clear on your requirements and how you'll know if your site is successful, we can talk about how to go about accomplishing your goals.

When considering developing an effective website start here:

Focus on your needs rather than your wants. Your budget and your intended market will affect some of the parameters.

Here's some questions to ask yourself:

How you intend to accomplish your goals? You'll need to develop a plan that includes testing, launch strategies, site maintenance and future updates.

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What's Your Message?

The content and design of your site is determined by the sort of message you want to convey as well as what your visitors may be seeking when they land on your site (your target market).

What Makes You Different?

Remember, you're not the only one that wants to be in the “top ten” on Google. You need to choose a few attributes to highlight that make your business stand out.

Think of key words or phrases that describe not only your business but what makes it different from your competition.

For example, every coffee shop has coffee, but what is your specialty? What is it that draws your customers? Is it the location? The unique atmosphere? What else?

By focusing on what makes you unique, you have a better chance of securing search results that attract visitors to your site that convert into sales and loyal customers.

Key Elements

There are a number of key elements that we'll need to address.

Describe Your Business

We'll want to advertise your company's strengths and address any weaknesses during the design process. You'll want to have a look at your competition's sites — your customers or clients will be checking them out.

Social Media & Blog

Do you already have a social media presence or a blog?

Site Content & Focus

How do you envision your website? Have you thought about how it can be maintained once it is built?

Answers to these questions will in turn determine factors like:

Consider other sites have you have visited that you like (and what you liked or didn't like about them). It may be a single element or a concept that appeals to you:

If you already have a business colour scheme like your logo, business stationary, etc. that will help to determine the style.

You'll then want to determine what materials you need to provide or obtain.

This could include professional photos of your business or staff, a logo (in a format suitable for the website), the text that tells about your business and why customers should buy from you instead of your competition.

I'll then take this material, organize it and edit it to present a professional image for your site.

Goals & Expectations

We need to be realistic about your goals, capabilities and expectations. Not all factors are in your control, but we can focus on those that are more concrete.

Be sure to voice any constraints up front such as budget limitations, timelines, personnel capabilities or anything else that could sidetrack the project. We want to provide the best experience possible for your company, your staff and yourself.

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What is Your Market?

The more we know about your target market, the more certain we can be about our choices.

Visitor Demographics

Visitor demographics will determine what elements are necessary for the success of your project. The more you know about your user demographics the easier it is to select options that will translate into success.

Who do you hope to reach with your website?

Identifying your target market will help to determine what sort of web presence you need and the sort of technology the site needs to employ.

Your content needs to enhance your other advertising and branding but should take advantage of the benefits the Web has to offer, including technology that your market finds compelling.

There is no point drawing visitors to your site if you cannot satisfy the search queries that drew them there.

Video is Compelling

Traditionally, most sites have been compositions of text and graphics (images) but video is a powerful way to present your product or story.

If you or your employees are very effective with people, a video showcasing your staff serving customers or speaking about how they resolved customer issues can make the site visitor's experience more personal.


YouTube and similar sites provide an economic way to upload and convert video into a usable format. YouTube can be linked to or embedded into your site and you can have a YouTube channel where all your videos are listed in one location.

Many businesses employ YouTube channels to provide support for their products or services.


Infographics can provide your visitors with a new way to view information about your product or service that can be shared with friends and contacts. Infographics are created by graphic artists.

An example is this infographic:

“Update your software!?” infographic -- click to learn more.
See the full infographic.

Notice how colour and the bold use of text and images can communicate a lot in a small space and is more compelling than text alone.

Meet an Emotional Need

Infographics require some thought and work best when they satisfy an emotional need as well as a technical one.

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Your Content

We need an inventory of any content you currently have and what we may need to generate to make the site work as intended. This includes logos, photos, drawings, PDFs and similar content.

Is it Yours?

You need to confirm in writing that you have the legal right to use the content you provide.

Legal teams search the Web looking for infractions. The costs of including content illegally on your project can be very expensive. See Copyright: Who owns the content?

Outside Resources

I maintain business relationships with professionals in various areas of expertise including graphic artists, photographers, etc.

Gather Your Materials

It is important that you provide all the proprietary text, images and video content before work can begin on the site.

I cannot commit to a timeline without having these materials in my possession in a suitable format that I can work with.

Got Questions? Call Now!

Assessing Technologies

I have an excellent grasp on the design and building of the basic components of websites as well as the technology involved.

This includes an understanding of how websites work in the practical as well as the theoretical. However, I know my limitations.

Some content (such as video) has technical requirements best handled by a videographer. Others, such as infographics, require specialized artistic skills.

Will That Technology Work?

What will work depends upon your market, the unique content you can provide, your in-house expertise as well as your budget.

A number of issues with technologies are listed on the design considerations page.

Over time web technology has gotten easier to deal with and more transparent. The hardware and software your potential customers are using can affect accessibility — something we have to consider based upon your customer demographics.

Employing Video Correctly

If you plan to employ videos on your site, you need to understand the limitations of video when used on a website:

How much this will affect the visitors to your site depends on the demographics.

Security & Other Considerations

This section deals with a number of design practices that are common. However, you need to be aware of the limitations as well as the costs (both in terms of privacy and development costs).


You've probably heard the term SEO (search-engine optimization). This is a double-edged sword and we should discuss how you can best enhance your presence without endangering your visibility on the Web.

Beware of offers to place you on the top of Google's search charts. If SEO tricks are used, your site could become “invisible” overnight.

Google's stagnation has trickled down to its products.


Although [Google] constantly updates and tweaks its algorithms, which are powered by natural-language-processing AI tools, there is a creeping sense — among frustrated programmers, searchers, and even journalists — that the site is no longer as useful or intuitive as it once was.


One reason for this feeling may be that Google's algorithms have been successfully gamed by low-quality websites and search-engine-optimization companies that help their clickbaity clients show up in the first page of Google Search results.
The Atlantic

Site Analytics

Tools like Google Analytics can allow you to make changes to your site that better accommodate actual visitors. However, there are issues.

Privacy Considerations

People are getting more concerned with their privacy and the tools used to collect that information, including site analytics.

Ad-blockers and privacy tools like Ghostery and Privacy Badger are becoming more common and can disable analytics, perhaps skewing the data you're collecting.

Google Analytics is changing its privacy standards.

Only Collect Necessary Data

Consider what information you'll be collecting from site visitors, whether it is necessary and how you will protect it. Nothing can harm your credibility more than a data breach, especially if there is no purpose for the data you've collected.

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Web Design Index

  1. The Introduction.
  2. Design philosophy.
  3. Design considerations.
  4. Design criteria.
  5. Content Management Systems.
  6. Customized Blogs.
  7. Factors affecting price.
  8. Request a quote.
  9. Site maintenance.
  10. My design portfolio.

Questions? Call Now!


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Updated: January 10, 2024