“A genius without a road-map,” says Brian Tracy, “would get lost in any country. But an average person with a road-map can find their way anywhere.”
That one statement from the prolific Brian Tracy outlines the very essence of this topic. Think about it like this: you could be (or hire) the best overall web designer in the world, but if you don’t know the company for which you are designing (and it could be your own site/business) you will lose the message the business is trying to convey through the web presence. However, if you know your business inside and out you will have no trouble determining a direction for the web design. Let’s take a look at some markers on the symbolical business road-map that a web design consultation with IMPACT with reveal.
Your Origin: Know Where You Have Been
It’s important to understand your company’s history in order to properly design your site (i.e. Did your company rise from the ashes of another idea? Did your company benefit from generous donations? Was your company spurred on by an idea to better the world?). There is an old saying that you need to know where you have been in order to move forward to where you are destined to venture. This cannot be more true as knowing this information will allow you to solidify your message and brand. Once your message and brand are concrete, we are better able to understand:
- Color choices — these help implement the overall message as different colors hold various emotional responses
- General site layout — the background of the site can now be formed to attract your target audience
- Verbage — the content of your site can now be formed to fit the overall demographics of your target audience
Three Stops To Make: Strengths, Behaviors, & Competition
Knowing your company’s strengths is one of the most important factors when designing your website. Remember that when you are running a company you are not necessarily reinventing the wheel, but you are trying to make the production, distribution, and sale of that wheel more efficient. By understanding those specific company strengths you are now able to market and feature them within your site’s content.
Knowing your customer’s behaviors is another stressed point. Are you clientele going to purchase the products or services through your site, or are they going to contact you and then purchase your product or service? Are you wanting that specific trend to continue or would you rather that behavior change? These are very important questions to define as this will determine the overall feel of your site. If you want your clients to purchase products or services through your site then perhaps a shopping cart theme will work. However, if you would rather they contact you first then a content-driven, information-rich, and call-to-action site may work.
Knowing your competition is the third point to specifying the design theme. If your competition is successful with their site (again) why reinvent the wheel? The only thing that you have to do is make the process more efficient for search engines and users! However, if your competition is not successful with their site’s direction then it may be a direct opportunity for you to capitalize on a different site design. Overall, though, the idea of knowing in which areas your direct competitors are strong or weak can drastically alter your site design.
The Destination: Goals and Getting There
Defining both short term and long term goals for your website is probably the most important discussion that you will have with IMPACT. It is the be all and end all of why you are creating or rehabilitating your company’s website. It is the reason why you are taking this adventure. Keep in mind that you want to establish these metrics and stick to them; achieving them will be one of the measurements used in evolving the site over time. To further the discussion of goals, the idea of how to get to accomplish these performance tasks is equally important. Develop an online marketing plan that will allow you to hit these goals as well as one that will allow you the flexibility to alter them if they are not meeting expectations.
I know, as a business owner, that this seems like a lot of work. However, it is truly worth the time that you put into it as the steps that you take throughout this process will help you get the best website for your individual company. Remember that no two companies are the same, and no two websites are the same. So, take the time to know your company’s history, your business’ strengths, clientele behaviors and competition, and your short and long-term goals (along with your marketing plan to get there). It will make your web design road trip much more efficient and successful!