You’ve finally decided that your company needs a new web site. But now what? Every ad agency and “website guru” is going to tell you want to do – and it usually means pay them more money. The process can be daunting, especially if you are undertaking the new web site yourself (or managing others to do it). What types of things should you consider before you begin? How will you measure success? And if need be, how will you get buy in from your superiors to take on the expense of a new web site?
Start with the basics. Do you need a brand new web site or simply need to upgrade your current site?
Typically, a company will be constantly updating and uploading new content to their website but they will refresh the design of their web site every year or so. Refreshing and adding new content is good for SEO among other things. But there are also good reasons to update your web site’s design.
Maybe you and others in your company are just tired of seeing the same old site every day. Maybe your customers have expressed a desire for a change overtly. Or maybe your customers have expressed a need for a change covertly through dropping sales and other KPI’s.
You might also have noticed that what once looked like a modern, innovative web site design is now outdated by newer technologies and design trends.
Whatever your reason for deciding on a new site or redesign of an existing one, you will want to take a methodical approach to your approach. Some of these ideas can be implemented without taking a wrecking ball to your existing site.
1. Who is your audience?
The most important reason to change your site or build a new one is to connect with the people who will be coming to it. Presumably, this will be your audience, which depending on your business may also be your customers. Who are these people and what are they motivated by?
2. How easy is it to describe what you do?
This may seem simple, but being able to really define what service or product you provide is really important. Take a minute to write down the answer to this question. Is your answer concise? Can you explain it in a Twitter message – less than 140 characters? If not, you may want to work on tightening it up.
3. What do you want from your site visitors?
What is the purpose of your web site and what would you like your visitors to do once they get there? Is it obvious? If not, why not? If you can’t answer this question then it is going to be nearly impossible for your visitors to. Make sure the one thing you want from your sites’ visitors is within 1 click.
4. Are there misconceptions about your service or product that you can address?
You may have gotten feedback from your customers (or read about it indirectly from social media postings or review sites) on issues or problems that your service or product has. Some of these issues can be real or imagined. In any case, it is always good to know up front how your audience thinks so you can address those objections or perceptions in your site content and headlines.
If your product is perceived to be expensive (or it actually is) you may want to acknowledge all of the other benefits associated with it (higher quality, better warranty, etc) right from the outset and have that messaging be a part of your site planning and content strategy.
5. What do your visitors want from your site?
Similar, but often times different from Step 3 above, it is important to realize that just because you want a visitor to fill out an information request form or click buy on a shopping cart page, they might not be there for that purpose. This is where analytics comes in, whereby you can analyze how people move throughout your site and what they are specifically looking for. Google Analytics has a really useful report for determining this information, called Visitor Flow. It will let you know where visitors go, and where they leave from.
So next time you decide to revamp or build a new web site, keep these 5 points in mind. I guarantee that by considering your audience, your value proposition, proactively addressing misconceptions (or objections) and understanding both what your goals are, as well as those of your customers, you will be on your way to a highly effective web site.
What platform to build your site on is a whole other conversation. I use to be a Flash devotee. And I still think Flash has its place. But I’ve been converted to a connoisseur of WordPress. If you have questions, drop me a note and we can discuss what your best options are.