Like us, you may have found some time to reflect on your website over the Christmas break. We’ve got big plans for ours, so look out for some changes over the coming months.
So, for all you business owners and marketers, we’ve pulled together a list of the 10 things to consider before meetingyour web designer.
You can use our list of pointers to help you plan. Uncover the motivation behind your project and get you and your design team (hopefully us!) off to a flying start with your new website.
1. What is the main aim of the website?
There are many reasons for having a website but it’s important to know what the main purpose of the site is.
Perhaps you simply want to provide information about your services. It could be all about your products, a shop, or to get bookings and sell tickets.
Is your website an essential part of your business? Maybe it’s just a place to provide a little background info, or an extension of your existing site, or just a little side project?
Of course, it could not be a business at all! Perhaps you run a charity or a community group and you’re looking to raise awareness. Whatever your purpose, it’s vital to have clarity on the main single aim for the website.
2. What are you hoping your website will achieve?
This goes further than the purpose you’ve decided on in question 1. Now you’re considering why you want the aim of the website to be what you’ve chosen.
If you decided the main purpose for your site was to provide information, then this is your opportunity to outline why this is the case. Are you looking to position yourself in the marketplace, establish more credibility, or just help people to find their nearest distributor?
3. How will you define success?
Will your website project be a success if it’s live by a certain date and under budget? Or, are you looking for rankings to improve? More positive user feedback? Get more active users? Grow your database? Sales to increase?
You won’t know if the project has been a success if you haven’t set up clear and measurable goals at the start. Make them numbers and dates, e.g. 5% increase in hits by month three, or 10,000 new subscribers by the end of year 2.
These are just a few ideas and it would be great to get them all, but it is better to focue on one. It makes the design choices and split testing more effective when you have only one clearly defined objective.
4. How will people find your new site?
It’s worth remembering that although great design and user experience are important to the success of the goals above, it is likely that your offsite activity will play an even more influential role.
If you want sign-ups to grow, enquiries to increase and sales to double, then you will need to get visitors to your site in the first place. You can only do that by sending people there from other sources. People can’t drive past your website, unless you’ve put it on a sign or vehicle of course!
A strong mix of online and offline marketing activity will be essential if you want to drive more people to your website. It could be the best website ever but without a coordinated launch then nobody will talk about it.
Remember there is a good reason why e-bay advertise on billboards and even Google send you stuff in the post.
5. What’s wrong with your old site?
Does you old site look dated? Or is it that your business has moved on and offers new things now? Maybe it just drives you bonkers when you try to update it.
Websites change all the time. It’s a good thing, too. They should constantly grow and change to meet the needs of technology, search engine algorithms, the law and user behaviour. Here’s some examples of reasons to change:
Discussing the things that bug you about your old site helps to ensure the new one ticks all the boxes and is built with future upgrades in mind.
6. How much is your budget?
Finding out how much awebsite costs is similar to asking how much a house costs to build. The budget will vary depending on what options you choose during your project.
With that in mind, it is vital that you come up with a figure you are comfortable with investing. Remember, it is an investment. Consider the value of the website to your business. It can be a means of finding, informing and even selling to customers, while you sleep. What is that worth?
Don’t view your site as an overhead. It isn’t an expense, it’s an awesome chance to connect and establish long term relationships with your customers.
Think about that, and remember to allocate some of your budget for promoting your website too.
7. Who is your target audience?
If you are redesigning an existing site, then you should have access to data about who your current audience are. If it’s an entirely new site, then there will be a bit of guess work involved.
Either way, it’s just the start because there is a huge difference between knowing your audience and understanding who they are. It isn’t enough, anymore, to know they are a certain type of business that comes from a certain area.
You need to think hard about the people who are visiting your website. How old are they? What are their hobbies and interests? If you can gain an understanding of the type of people using your website, you and your designers can make better informed choices about the style and delivery of the content.
8. Do you know what they want?
Once you know who your audience are, you can start to focus on what they are looking to do or find when they visit your website.
If you know what they want, then you can design your content and navigation around it. Having this level of clarity makes designing landing pages much simpler.
Don’t just rely on existing analytics data for this. If it’s a new idea, then do some research. Ask on Facebook and Linked in, create a survey using Survey Monkey. Do whatever you can to gain insight from potential buyers.
Your designers can use this information to improve the user experience and drive the actions you require. The rewards for this will come with increased sales and better search rankings.
9. How can you serve your online community?
Think about what your community are looking for from you. If you are a funeral business then good for you. Learn about your history, check. Information on where to find you, check. Maybe even a consultation booking function, check. But how about you add some useful content on bereavement support or digital death?
Imagine you sell watches. Great! Publish a blog, add videos. Provide valuable content for free. Your website will thrive if you put quality content first!
If you build a strong community, then you can recommend products and services to a more engaged audience.
10. Have you seen other websites that you like?
It can take many hours to write a useful web design brief. Sometimes just a few examples of sites you admire and some notes can get the design team off on the right road.
Don’t worry if you’re unsure. Usually, after a short chat, your designers can find some sites to recommend you take a look at.
Remember, designing a new website should be a creative and ultimately satisfying experience that you can actually enjoy.
If you’d like to chat through your website project, please give the studio a call on 0131 447 8613. We’d be delighted to help.