When thinking about websites, I always try to look at priorities from both sides of the screen.
First, the customer. What are their priorities? After all, the web is a utility. If I visit a restaurant’s website, I expect to be able to quickly find information about its location, their menu, and contact/reservation information.
If I can’t find that information, I might get annoyed and go look at another restaurant.
Consequently, now look at things from the point of view of the restaurant. They need to ensure that a customer can find the information that they are looking for and find it quickly. However, they also have a story to tell. They want to position their brand in the best way possible, one that’s true to their core values and the story they want to share.
The restaurant would want to have rich, detailed photography of their most popular dishes. Maybe they’d also want to link to favorable reviews, either by local newspapers or customers on Yelp. While the customer is coming to the website expecting this content, the brand is responsible for delivering the experience that meets and then exceeds those expectations.
Beyond this very simple content vs. functionality debate, there are numerous technical areas that must be closely considered. For example, compatibility with browsers and especially mobile platforms must be accounted for. When thinking of user interface (or UI), different types of websites might need different types of layouts to best fit their customer’s expectations. Even after deployment, heat maps are an excellent tool to collect data on the effectiveness of your site, and will help you plan for version 2.0 of your home page.