Getting the most out of your website build
Websites can be costly in set-up and maintenance. Furthermore, if you get it wrong in the first instance, you may potentially be alienating consumers from your brand which is an even bigger cost.By answering the following questions ahead of commissioning a developer, it will help you determine how your website should look, what it should contain, and what features it should include. These questions are critical, otherwise you will end up spending cash and resources on something that does not work for you.
- What is the purpose of your website? i.e. Disseminate information / Market your company and products / Sell products online / Build constituent and supporter base / Grow your profile. If your objective is to create a positive ‘brand experience’ your website requires intuitive navigation, alongside rich and interactive experiences. However, if you are predominantly e-commerce your site would require simple navigation and search functions to ensure consumers find that they are looking for.
- Where is your business in the marketplace? i.e. lagging / par with competition / leading edge. What competitor’s websites do you like/do not like and why? Similar to your business plan, you should perform an external analysis of your digital competition. This will determine to look and feel of your site compared to others in your industry. You also want to ensure that your site doesn’t fall behind in features and customer expectations.
- Who are your customers, and are they intended website audience? Are they mums and dads, teenagers, CEOs or silver surfers*? This is important to know because you don’t want to alienate a group who would be most likely to engage your products or services. * A silver surfer is an adult, generally 50 years of age or older, who frequently surfs the Web and spends time online (“silver” refers to the colour of their hair).
- What is your content strategy? What message are you trying to deliver to your customers? What do you want people to do once they visit your website? What kind of material will you include on your website? i.e. Information about us / Contact us / Marketing information / FAQ / Product information / Store / Journals / Articles / Current information / Personal material, writings, and accomplishments. The content strategy is the mindset, culture and approach to delivering information to your audience in all of the places they are searching for it, across each stage of the procurement process. The strategy defines not only which content will be published, but also why it is published in the first place. In short, your content has to be awesome. It has to be truly helpful. It cannot be all about you. It has to be about your customers’ wants and needs.
- How will people learn about your website? With the rise in importance of social media and online PR, I’m seeing more businesses change their method of budgeting, reporting and investing in media to reflect the types of sites where audiences spend their time online. It’s a positive move since it poses questions about how best to measure the returns from social media and set the investment at the right level.
- How often to you plan to update the main pages on your website? Who do you want to update the visible content (or “copy”) on your website? webmaster / both / myself. This will determine who builds your site and in what format or program they build it in. With today’s new generation of website builders, you can build your own website without having to pay a professional designer and programmer, however, this option is highly time-consuming and if you don’t have an eye for design you could end up with a site that looks like the dog’s breakfast. We build sites for our time-poor clients using WordPress, however before we start we have answered each and every question on this list!
- How will you measure your website’s success? Wow. What a great question. If you’re investing time and/or money into your site wouldn’t you like to know what sort of ROI you should expect? You can’t quantify everything however you can set goals for how many visitors you would like to see arrive at your page each week. You should also set some conversion goals – how can you see where you’re going if you haven’t written it all down?