Without a top-quality website your online presence is hindered even if your direct competition may not have a tech-savvy website. Not only is it a smart decision to create an updated website for compatibility purposes, but establishing an effective and engaging website shows your current clientele and site visitors that you care about the details. However, before you jump into the web design (or redesign) process with two feet there are some things that you should know before you start the project.
Who Are You?
As simple as the question seems, the answer is much more in depth. To be honest, this is what we (IMPACT) pride ourselves in discovering in our client meetings because your website needs to match your company identity. Some things to consider with this question are:
- Your Website URL — If you have a current website address, does it match your company and/or the message you are looking to deliver through your company? Is it concise and catchy for your clientele to remember? If you were to change your existing web address, what would your ideal URL be?
- What Do You Do — Again, another facet of the “who are you” question that was posed above is to know what you do. Do you only deliver a specific service, or do you capitalize on customer service? Is your company only a buyer’s real estate agency or do you also help with foreclosures and saving people’s homes? In other words, what is the full spectrum of your company, and what are your specialties?
- What Image Do You Want — As long as you have an online presence it is significantly important that you deliver a consistent image through your website and your services. Make sure that you know and understand your current brand image with your current clientele so that you can portray that through your business site and social media outlets. Your image should maintain consistent colors, fonts, themes, and/or imagery.
What Are Your Site Goals?
If you venture into any business situation blind and without any direction there is an increased chance that you will fail that task. On the flip side, if you enter into a project with goals set and at least a general outline of what you want to accomplish you have a significantly better opportunity to succeed. Don’t just take this lightly, though, put some time in and answer these questions for yourself:
- What Should Your Site Accomplish — There are a full menu of websites out there from straight blogs to social networking platforms, and straight informational sites to full marketing mediums. The majority of efficient corporate website utilize all of these variations in some shape or form. However, what do you want your site to accomplish? Do you want it to simply be an informational tool for your clients? Would you rather see a networking forum for your site visitors to share their experience with your service and products? The potential is is almost limitless with so be as detailed as possible.
- What Pages Are Important To Include — Throughout the web design process you’ll discuss the overall site structure which includes all of the main pages, their sub-pages, and potentially their children pages as well. Prior to going through a full site outline, though, it’s important for you to think about the pertinent pages that are associated with your business. Some of the more common ones are: (1) Contact page, (2) About page, (3) Blog, and (4) Products/Services page. The idea behind this is to not only help you with site organization, but to also help determine what you site should accomplish (as in the question above).
- What Features Do You Have In Mind — With web development, there are a vast variety of web features which can be integrated into almost every website. One of the easiest ways to answer this question is to browse through websites and take note of innovative and/or interesting features. Remember that all of your features are customized so also think about how you want your unique spin to be added to the existing feature “template”.
How Will You Market?
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is to go through a fantastic (re)design process and then have no plan for marketing their great new addition to their company profile. With marketing a website, there are several means to a successful end, but here are some questions for your marketing conundrum:
- What Does Your Client Do — With websites, it is extraordinarily important to think like your clientele. Without the ability to accomplish this, you will lose our on potential organic traffic through search engines as well as in conversation percentages. So, what will your customers search for on Google, Bing, and Yahoo? What are they looking for throughout your website and how can you bring that to them more efficiently? Why do your clients use you and not your competition?
- What Will You Add, Drop, and/or Keep — Within your current marketing mix, it will be increasingly important to think about the ways to market your online presence to maximize your return of investment. Will you add to your current marketing plan to include social media and social networking? Will you drop current marketing efforts which have proven unsuccessful? With the current marketing mix, is there anything that you can alter to enhance the effects by integrating your website marketing? Again, there are countless ways to market, but now is the time to really think about what you do to benefit your company.
- What Does Your Competition Do — Throughout all facets of marketing, you need to have an understanding of what your competition currently does to gain further market-share. Go through what you think they do, and talk to your clients about what they see with your competition as well. By getting their feedback you are also showing that you are willing to receive criticism and feedback which will make them more loyal customers (it’s a win-win situation). By answering this question and investigating a bit further you will also find your competitive advantage and benefits to your company which will help you during your marketing campaigns.
Who Will Maintain Your Site?
After the project is completed, most clients enter into a newly-wed state where they are completely infatuated with their new addition to the corporate family. What gets swept under the table initially is the maintenance of your gorgeous site. To help minimize this potential, answer the following:
- Will You Blog or Update Content — A significant number of sites that are being built currently have also included their own blog. With a powerful blog comes a lot of responsibility which managers (sometimes) don’t have the time to maintain. So, what is your plan for maintaining your blog or updating the content on your new site? Will you assign someone within your company to accomplish this, or will you have your web design company help you?
- Who Will Upgrade for New Releases — There are several platforms in which you can develop and design a website, but with these great platforms comes the necessary upgrades to maintain compatibility with both the platform as well as internet browsers. This can get quite detail-oriented so you should think about a plan prior to starting the web design process.
- Will You Want More — This is the question that is almost always answered as “it depends”. And, rightfully so! Until you have an active site and understand the true impact of your website on your current and future clientele you will not know if you want more with your site. However, think about how quickly you would want to make those changes and the turn-time you would want to make those changes. Do you want to run the website and then a week later alter based on research, or is this going to be a two year period before you make any changes at all? Each company is unique with their approach, but remember to also ask yourself who will be doing the alterations on the site.
As you can see, we don’t let just anyone randomly jump into the web design (or redesign) process. We care about what you have going on as an individual company and take full responsibility for accomplishing everything that you relay to us within our multiple meetings throughout the web design process. However, we also want you to care about your website and think of it as an extension to your current company. To help you with the process, make sure that you go through the questions above so that we can all rest easy that the best product will come out of our working together.
If website design is something that you are interested in but don’t know how to get started, contact us today to schedule your free marketing analysis.
“The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Marketing”-E-Book
Image Source: HubSpot, “The 2011 State of Inbound Marketing”, E-Marketer.com