A good website is central to marketing success, yet many businesses end up with new sites that just aren’t up to the job. A common mistake is to leap straight in and start with design. But this design-first thinking can result in web projects that don’t deliver, and opportunities (and a lot of money) wasted.
Stop. It really helps to get clear on a few key points before you begin. Understand the hard work your site will need to do, so you get it firing on all cylinders. Nail down your website job description before you consider what it will look like.
“Nail down your website job description before you consider what it will look like.”
Here are six crucial questions to answer before you get started. Answering these will help put your web project on the right track, and make your relationship with your web design/development team far more productive. Get clear on the answers before you pick up the phone.
6 questions to put your website project on the right track
1. What are your business goals and how do they translate into measurable objectives for the new website? Your website has a job to do, so be sure to clarify its tasks before you start. Is the key driver for the website to save time within the business? Is it to attract more of the right kind of clients? Is it to better track the customer journey and convert more leads?
2. What do you want to say to the world? What’s the story you’re telling that will differentiate you from all the others in your market? The best performing business websites are crystal clear on the why as well as the what. What story do you want to tell on your home page? You don’t need every piece of page content written before you talk to a web designer, but it will help them and you enormously if you can articulate your message and tone succinctly from the start.
3. Who are your ideal clients? What is the audience for the new site? The more specific you can be the better. You may have a few different niches, but you should have a good idea of the ideal client for each of them. What content will these people be searching for online? What challenges are they facing that you can help with? Knowing this will help your web designer create the site around the needs of your clients – just as a good content marketing website should.
4. What are you selling? Which products or services are your focus? A good website will allow you to take prospective clients on a journey with you, building and deepening the relationship along the way. The journey to buy a pair of jeans is very different to the one you’d make if your company is investing in a new accounting system. You’ll need different kinds of trust-building content for each step along the way, and different calls to action too. So map out the journey you want to take your customers/clients on.
5. What content does the website need to house? What types of content will you want to create and share now and in the future? Your content will be the fuel that pulls leads towards your business – what will that content look like and what formats will it be in? Do you need to build a digital library or is it more like a cinema? Make sure you have a good balance of stock and flow content, and a home for both.
6. What functions does the website need to perform? A solid content management system and responsive design are the fundamentals that go as read these days but what else? CRM and email marketing connectivity? Member log in or ecommerce, now or in the future? What level of visitor insight, personalisation and marketing automation do you need? The next generation of websites are supercharged lead machines, but you won’t get one unless you know what to ask for. You can read more on the future of websites from our friends at Newfangled Web here.
Stop, think, plan
Creating a new website for your business is an opportunity to transform far more than just the look of your site. Resist the temptation to dive into the design and do a bit of hard thinking and planning first. Yes, it takes a bit of extra time at the start of a project, but you’ll get a much better result in the long run.
Make the most of the opportunity. Your business (and your web team) will thank you if you plan the job properly right from the start.