Planning a new website… HOLD ON A MOMENT!
Think about this… So your family has out-grown your existing home. You have explored the options and decided that you will join 7% of other British families by building your own home from scratch. You have fantasized about doing this for years. You finally have the motivation and means to do it, so you want to do it well.
You have big dreams and so many ideas in your head, but where to start? I know where you wouldn’t start. You wouldn’t just book a builder and ask them to get on with it after a couple of relatively brief conversations.
Could you imagine what you would end up with, not to mention the daily (or possibly hourly) requests for direction as you go! It doesn’t bare thinking about. Enlisting your builder is quite possibly the last stage in the process.
So why do so many companies take this approach with their website?
You know you need a new website so you immediately start contacting web agencies to help. Don’t get me wrong, web agencies certainly have their place in the process, but in my experience there is important groundwork to do before you get the designers and developers involved.
I have seen it time and again. What tends to happen is a prolonged muddle that eventually results in a marginal improvement on what came before, leaving both parties miffed by the experience.
HOLD ON A MOMENT!
Many businesses today cannot thrive let alone survive without a website, but it is in fact a means to an end. It is a means to help you achieve something specific for your business. All too often this is overlooked – your website has a significant strategic role to play but it is rarely approached with this in mind.
A new website is the perfect opportunity to reposition your brand and get attention to secure a new source of income. Building a great website takes more than a site map, new colour pallet and the latest features. I came across an infographic the other day (see below) which very much talks to my philosophy when it comes to websites.
Here are a few nuggets of advice to support this:
Do the groundwork for solid foundations.
Why are you here, what is your purpose? What is your why? Who are you in the eyes of your audience today? Who do you want to be? How do you make a difference? Who are your competitors, how can you stand out? Where is the market going, what opportunities can you pioneer?
Be sure about the role it plays in your wider strategy.
What role does your website play in helping you achieve your business goals? How does it enable your overall marketing strategy? What role will it play in your marketing campaigns? How will it facilitate your audience through the sales funnel? How does it foster ongoing engagement with your audience?
Your audience is everything.
Who do you want to visit the site? What do you know about them? What do they care about, what are they interested in? What needs do they have and how can you solve these, provide value to them? How can you wow them better than the alternatives? What experience will you offer and how will you inspire them to take the desired action?
Making it work for your audience and for your business.
What do you want your visitor to do when they arrive at the site? What do you want them to think? How do you want them to feel? What action do you want them to take before they leave the site, when they have left the site? How are you going to get them to come back?
Making it happen!
Have you written a brief that captures everything you need from your new site? Do you want the project to be design-led, developer-led, marketing-led, something-else-led or everything-led? What attributes does the partner need in order to work effectively with your team? What does success look like? What will it take to reach the desired outcome?
Making your dreams come true
In my opinion (and experience) you need to have delved in and defined the above before you start building! Do the planning, lay the foundations. That way you have everything you need to create an online user experience that will make your brand stand out, wow your visitors, inspire them to take action and win new business. If you cut to the chase the outcome may please you initially, but your website will struggle to contribute to your business in the long-run.
An old saying couldn’t be more applicable: PROPER PREPARATION PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE.