New Year’s Resolutions are a great way to kickstart a project in January. And if a new website is one of your goals this year, then why not start right now.
This guide will help you plan your project to make sure it is a success.
We’ll talk you through the four key areas you need to consider: Strategy, Content, Functionality and Design. Each of these is crucial to a successful project.
Strategy is an important first step because it helps define the purpose of your new website.
You need to know what your business goals are and what role your website plays in this. What does it need to do to help you achieve your goals?
Who is your audience
Your website should be aimed at your target audience. But to make sure you reach them you need to know who they are, how and why they come to your current site. What are their needs? What problem are they looking to solve?
You may already have this information but if not then you can use tools such as Google Analytics or https://www.semrush.com to find out where your website visitors are coming from and what keywords they are searching for.
Once you understand the needs of your target audience you can define what the most important thing is that your website needs to communicate and what action you want visitors to take.
Once you now know what you want your website to do you should define your success criteria – what will make your website successful?
To do this you need to set some goals and these need to be SMART; Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Timed.
- Reduce the site’s bounce rate by 10% by 1st March
- Increase monthly sales enquiries by 10% within 3 months
- Get 500 new email subscribers within a year
A website is part of your marketing strategy and needs to be supported with on-going marketing, so keep this in mind when defining your SMART goals.
Review the content you already have on your existing website and decide whether any of it can be used. Then decide what pages you need and what new content is required.
For example this may involve gathering feedback from your customers to create case studies, customer stories and testimonials.
Good pictures are worth a thousand words
Professional photography is incredibly important to budget for. If the image is right and of great quality it will speak for itself. You don’t need to spend half your budget on endless photos, all you need is a few good ones. There is no substitute for quality photos of your staff, storefront, products or services.
Writing clear and concise marketing copy, like good photography, requires a skill that not everyone has. If you don’t possess this skill, then consider hiring an expert.
When working with your web designer it’s important to be as clear as possible about what functionality you want.
For example, perhaps you want a photo gallery on your website. Great idea. But what will it consist of? Will it be 20 images in a grid? Thumbnails with a pop-up overlay when you click on one? Or a multi-page gallery with hundreds of photos, individually categorised and tracked with metadata?Should users be able to rate images, comment on them or download them?
Don’t leave room for doubt
Define each type of content, and be as specific as you can. If you don’t, your developer will make their best guess as to what it should be and you might not end up with what you wanted.
Content elements like an event calendar, staff directory or blog provide a general frame of reference but they require clear direction; Exactly what do they need to accomplish? And how will they be used? How will they be updated?
Also consider whether you need to integrate with 3rd party systems such as MailChimp or Google Maps.
If you’re unsure of how to define content, an easy way is to simply observe the functionality of other websites and see what might suit your purpose.
The design of your website should incorporate your Brand Identity. This includes your logo, colours, typefaces, image style, illustrations and web copy tone of voice.
To help your designer it’s useful to compile a list of websites and brands that you like the look of and why you like them.
Following these four steps and gathering as much information as possible will help your web designer understand what you need for your project to be a success and for you to get a return on your investment.
If you need help creating your website plan then we can work with you as part of our process to create a website that meets your objectives, serves your customers and is aesthetically pleasing.
Drop us a line and we’d be delighted to discuss your project and how we can help.