A Needs Analysis in Developing a New Website

Introduction

This paper will apply needs analysis to the process of a new website development. It is a vital step in beginning stages of website design as it helps to identity user groups, needs, and company goals. Needs analysis can be important to provide a logical backbone to the development direction. After all, user-centred design of any technological system is focused on defining the users, their tasks, objectives, and desired functions. Since a webpage may be the forefront of virtual interaction of a user with a given company, needs analysis is critical for success.

Project Needs Analysis

Needs or gap analysis should be the starting point of any given project. The process itself can be formal and informal, depending on the available resources and time. However, the importance of a thorough needs assessment cannot be understated. In additional to identifying key needs, the analysis can help to highlight and balance any conflicts between stakeholders, developers, and audience/consumers as well as determine the technological requirements necessary to achieve the project goals.

Steps in User Needs Analysis

The three phases of the project need analysis provide a systemic approach to the process. Preparation includes goals, means, and limitations. Investigation allows for data collection, particularly from end users to determine needs. Finally, the decision phase provides summary of the findings, and develops strategy to address the changes as necessary to meet the needs of the end-users of the product or project. A large aspect of needs analysis is identifying the gaps which prevent an organization or project from meetings its desired goals, and determine the changes needed to progress effectively towards the objectives.

Feasibility of the Project

By utilising needs analysis in the concept of developing a website, the problem/objective is identified. Since only finite resources can be directed towards development and implementation, feasibility of the project needs to be evaluated. Feasibility is used as criteria, focused not on the concept of the plan for solving the problem, but examining the need for required resources – both tangible and intangible. It determines whether the project is ultimately worthwhile, both in terms of function and other factors such as economics or technologically.

Economic Feasibility

A number of initial costs to website development are based on budget constraints which can impact the website’s size, features, and overall quality of use alongside its ability to function and attract traffic. Website costing is dependent on multiple factors that should be accounted in the budget-planning phase. Features and content are highly individualistic and present different costs depending on business segment (Flynaut, n.d.). The budget has to be considered carefully and distributed appropriately based on the needs of end users and purpose of the website.

Return on investment is the epitome of economic feasibility for a website. Most non-government websites, even non-commercial, attempt to generate traffic and revenue to be feasible. Through metrics such as ad revenue, clicks, and others, the website can earn its owner revenue to cover website development and functionality costs alongside with fulfilling the call to action of the websites primary function whether it be sales, informational, or social.

The feasibility of developing a website has to consider long-term management, many of these concepts should be integrated from the start to ensure smoothness of functionality. The said costs should be calculated into the budget, particularly for the first months of running the website when it may require bug fixing and service. On an average basis, website maintenance costs can range between $400 to $5,000 a month.

Operational Feasibility

Operational feasibility analyses the inside operations on how the proposed process or system (in this case website) will work and be implemented as well as dealing with change resistance. It is important to consider these 6 factors in context and systematically consider how each one is operationally relevant to the project. Operational feasibility is meant to be a preliminary review on whether the project is worth to be proceeding to the analysis phase from a practical perspective.

Operational feasibility aims at measuring on how the proposed system solves the problems and functions. It must take advantage of opportunities within the scope. The various functions and features of the website should be evaluated beforehand for usefulness and functionality so that it would later be supported by management of the project as well as the end-users. Operational feasibility in this context seeks to determine whether the end-users of the website would be willing to transition due to better operations and more features that are accessible in comparison to previous systems (W3Computing, n.d.).

Technological Feasibility

Technological feasibility primarily focuses on the state of technology. Therefore, it is important to consider whether the website development can meet the demanding specifications required. Modern standards in development no longer focus on a waterfall approach but rather agile development where features are simultaneously developed in response to changing requirements. Functionality should remain optimal and streamlined in line with heavy technical demands and the result should be a smooth end-user experience. Web development can occur on a variety of platforms, ranging from easy to use and popular WordPress with predesigned features to building a website from the ground up using HTML. The functionalities and workings of front-end and back-end features have to be considered in the selection of the technological problem that will be used for the website development. In turn, the end-user should be considered as well, with the capabilities of platforms performing differently on mobile and various browsers. Finally, it is important to consider the technological capabilities of security, server hosting, and data management in relation to the website. Popular features such as user information, payments, and simply safe browsing, require integration of key security protocols early on. Developers must consider before the project if they have the expertise and resources feasible to ensure the security framework and selecting server hosting vendors that will contribute to this. Data collection and storage with data engineering capable to manage it appropriately (Martinez, 2018)

Timeline Feasibility

Time constraints can be a feasibility factor particularly for large or complex in scope projects. In consideration of the project management triangle, which includes time, quality, and cost – reducing time for development will result in decreased quality or higher costs. Timelines may be very vital for certain projects, therefore needs analysis needs to consider the feasibility of completing the website in a given timeframe. Similarly, to any other project management, web development has an established planned schedule which has a set sequence of activities necessary for development. There is an outlined timeframe for each activity, but these can shift. In some aspects of website development such as programming or beta testing, there are numerous possibilities for extended timeframes which incur additional costs or resource needs. Some of the individual deliverables during the development process are critical to the general scope of the project, and the context of shifting schedule plans should be considered as a feasibility factor.

Title of The Project

The project is aimed at developing a website for the educational technology start up Geek Express. It is an online platform for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math – therefore, a wide variety of students utilize it. The website should be accessible and well-functional to host the educational platform that Geek Express is attempting to develop in UAE. The end-user will be students and parents who would want to have a seamless experience in education and connect with their instructors and lessons virtually.

Purpose and Objectives of the project

The primary purpose for this project is to develop a website for the Edtech start-up Geek Express. This includes a modern webpage with all the necessary functions for the end-user as well as the back-end network and supporting services. Virtual learning tools should be developed for the system that both students and instructors can use individually. However, it is also important to build networks and connectivity to ensure the website security and uptime. Active use should be facilitated either through marketing efforts as well as user experience.

Scope of the Project

The scope of the website development project outlines a clear strategy along with some details. The scope for the website with Geekexpress is to create an accessible interface with ease of use and available content which users can interact with. It is important to avoid what is known as scope creep, as the scope outlines what is necessary and compares it to user needs, thus avoiding unnecessary elements which can increase costs.

Main Stakeholders

The main stakeholders are the start-up company for whom the website is being made. They provide the executive decisions. Investors in their start up are stakeholders as well since they will likely finance the website. Schools and teachers are stakeholders since the platform is educational and is meant to be integrated in educational institutions as well as at home where students, who are the end users will be the significant stakeholders in the project by providing feedback. Government agencies may be stakeholders since the platform would have to be certified to be used in schools.

Main Activities and Duration

Website development on such a large scale takes on a specifically laid out sequence where all information is gathered, and based on this, the planning and design are conducted. Only after approval, does the actual coding work begin to maintain efficiency in cost and resources. The process can be highly technically complex, but ensures for a smooth end-user experience lacking errors and including all the necessary content.

Main Resources Required

  1. Human resources – employees, programmers, web developers, and other specialized and management staff;
  2. Financial resources – budget to cover all expenditures for the development and salaries;
  3. Physical/technical resources – modern technology on which to create the website and servers to host it;
  4. Intellectual resources – IP and software to create and optimize the website, specialized knowledge;
  5. Communication resources – communication infrastructure to communicate with various stakeholders and specialists working on the project;
  6. Physical location – office space for the team to work together and collaborate;

Cost of the Project

These are basic broad costs that are usually included in website development. Considering that this is a fairly large platform with extensive features, cost will be high, particularly for the design and salaries for specialists. The website will require upkeep as well as marketing to remain relevant. These are initial costs that may decrease with time. Once the platform starts operating, the company can recoup these costs through user sign-ups.

Main Risks

There are a number of potential risks in a large-scale project. These may range from confusion regarding the project direction due to many stakeholders to running out of time or budget for the creation. The scope of the project may be too large and the planning did not adequately consider for all costs and discrepancies. Finally, there are the problems with technical aspects which may arise once again due to the scale of the project and interactive features which require careful attention. Risks are commonly considered before beginning the project and various risk mitigation strategies are utilized for best outcomes.

Project Team Required

As mentioned before, the process for the website development is complex, and all the included specialists are required for a large-scale website creation. Each serves their role in the various activities described earlier, and is critical to the web development. The hierarchical structure is maintained as well as collaboration regarding primary and secondary website functionalities.

Conclusion

Needs analysis is utilised in a variety of industries for project management purposes as an effective method of preliminary assessment. It helps to identify gaps between current and desired conditions or/and the needs of end-users. Website development which highly relies on end-user satisfaction benefits from needs analysis. This presentation sought to explore this in a case study fashion, with a focus on feasibilities which should be in considered in the context of website development.

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