You know the drill. A website brief arrives and a familiar process swings in to action: identify business goals, identify audience goals, identify challenges and off we go.
It’s a valid approach. But does it ever feel like something is missing?
The initial discovery phase of a project is fundamental to its coherency. And that phase isn’t complete without considering not only the challenges, but also the opportunities that exist.
The most basic idea of strategy is strength applied against weakness. Substitute ‘opportunity’ for ‘strength’ and ‘challenge’ for ‘weakness’ – you get the idea. Yet in my experience, mapping opportunities is rarely applied to website strategy.
This may be because channel strategy tends to narrows our focus, even when the larger ecosystem is considered. We look at needs, we look at content, we look at details; but we overlook the wider opportunities that exist to realise those more effectively.
Opportunities can be internal – increased investment in content, a new hire with relevant skills or a sudden freeing up of resource; or they can be external – a weakness in a competitor’s approach or serendipitous timing related to the market or audience. Take advantage of these to heighten the project’s ambition, define a particular focus, iterate more quickly or plan for the future.
Opportunities broaden the context. This is important – while user needs are vital, a website is ultimately an interface for achieving business goals. So when preparing a website strategy, it makes sense to evaluate the advantages we have as a business, not just the obstacles we face.
Matching opportunities to challenges could provide the insight that takes your web strategy to the next level; and you may be surprised to find how many answers were hiding in plain sight.