You may think embarking on a new website build or refresh is an easy feat –your agency will take care of it. Or, you may be thinking quite the opposite: it’s so complicated and daunting you don’t even know where to start. 

We’ve been building websites for a while now and successful outcomes always come down to one thing: a clear website scope – a comprehensive list of outcomes, inclusions and functionalities your website must have to meet your audience’s needs.

We like to call this the Discovery Phase, the time where you discover (and document!) the full scope of your project.

Why website scoping is important?

A scope is important because it:

  1. Gets everyone on the same page. Your entire organisation will be aware of the details of the project and what needs to be delivered.
  2. Aligns your budget with what you need. A scope will assist in making sure you have allocated enough budget to what you need – or helps you eliminate areas from the scope that aren’t necessary.
  3. Can save you money. Carefully considering everything your website will need means you won’t need to go back at the end, because you missed something – which can be an expensive exercise.
  4. Creates accountability. Committing to a detailed scope you and your agency agree to will keep everyone accountable – to budgets, inclusions and timeframes.

What’s in a scope?

Your scope will need to clearly outline what needs to be included in the project, what the outcomes will be and how to achieve them. Some key inclusions to consider are:

  • Overview of the project and your organisation
  • Objectives and goals of the build or refresh
  • Functionality requirements
  • Sitemap or site architecture
  • Delivery timeline
  • Budget

5 tips for developing a great scope

Website scoping should be your first step to making sure you can deliver a successful website. There are a number of things you can do to help inform each section of a comprehensive scope – here are our top 5 tips to get you started.

1. Create user personas

Before you start planning a website, you need to think about who you’re building it for. Who will be your visitors? What information will they be looking for on your website? At what stage of their journey will they land on your website?

Creating user personas (if you don’t already have them) is extremely beneficial in getting clarification to all of these important questions.

And it doesn’t have to break the bank. You can start by surveying or interviewing your existing donors and supporters and speak to your internal teams like fundraising, donations and bequests. There are some great free user persona generator tools available that will help you collate all the information you’ve gathered and organise it in a meaningful way.

User personas will help you define what your website will look like, identify content needs and your site architecture. Speaking of…

2. Information architecture or ‘sitemap’

Your site architecture outlines all pages on your website and their relationship to each other. It should provide a simple, logical path your users can follow when visiting your site. A good site architecture will help improve your user experience and keep your visitors around for longer.

Some key things to consider when developing your site architecture are:

  • Intuitive, easy navigation: don’t make your visitors have to think about how to get to where they want to be.
  • Reducing clicks to a maximum 3-4 to access all pages: don’t make your visitors have to click too much.
  • Consistency in navigation: make sure your navigation stays the same throughout the site.
  • Internal links that make sense: don’t link pages for the sake of linking; have a good, logical reason.

A good sitemap will also help with your search engine optimisation. Once you have the structure right, it makes sense to create a site map. At Leafcutter, we use Slickplan to help our clients plan and create their sitemap, but there are many free, easy to use tools available on the web as well.

3. Content feasibility & function audit

Auditing your existing content is very important when you’re assessing the scope of your website project. It helps you identify and eliminate duplicate content and any discrepancies and website issues that might affect your Google ranking.

A functions audit will also help you pinpoint areas of improvement from a user experience point of view.

While there are a number of free tools available, it’s worth investing in a thorough audit to ensure you don’t miss anything. Chat to us about how we can help.

The outcomes of your audit will help you define your scope as it will give you a better understanding of what’s currently working on your website and what needs to change.

4. Web Analytics

It’s also worth diving deep into your analytics platform, like Google Analytics, Hotjar, Google Console etc, to see how your users interact with your website currently. This will help you more closely refine your user personas and help you identify key areas of improvement on your website.

If you don’t have any analytics tools currently, you’ll need we highly recommend getting one. Once your new website is live you’ll need to continue to track your digital activities and the site’s performance to identify areas that may need to improve, like content or functionality.

5. Security

Website security is a big concern for organisations today. And so it should be. Cyber criminals use increasingly sophisticated methods to target businesses of all sizes, resulting in trillions of dollars lost. For nonprofit organisations, this could mean losing supporters’ personal data and information, which would have a devastating effect on organisations. 

Some things you need to consider when planning a secure website include:

  • Passwords and user permissions
  • Web hosting
  • Installing the right plug-ins
  • Having the right back-up solution in place
  • Enabling web application Firewall

Keeping your supporters’ data safe is absolutely vital, but it’s not the simplest task. We’ve helped countless organisations with their website security, so let’s chat about getting yours right.

Wrapping Up

Websites are an important investment for your organisation. A simple and effective way to deliver it successfully is by getting the scope right at the start.

If you need help with your website scoping, let us know – we’ve helped many organisations with scoping, like the Leukemia Foundation. Let’s chat about how we can help you.