History has taught us many lessons and provided us some great leaders. One of those leaders was the legendary Benjamin Franklin. For all that he did to help this country establish independence, there is one quote of his that has always stuck out in my mind, "When you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail." That line resonates across all aspects of life, business, and even website development. Creating a plan for your new website is crucial and something that should never be over looked. We've had many people who know they are in need of an update but don't quite understand exactly what they need or how they can use their website. A new website is great but take some time to think through how that website will grow your business. Here are 5 aspects of planning a website that often get overlooked but should be thought through prior to any design or coding.
When you hire a new employee, you create a job description that outlines their roles and responsibilities. Hopefully you establish some goals to help measure their performance and keep them on track. Your website should follow these same lines. Your website should, in fact, share some of the roles of your staff, such as PR, sales, HR, maybe even some client relations. Establishing those goals from the beginning can help your website team design and develop a platform to execute and reach those goals. A website should be much more than a brochure, it is up to you to decide how much more.
How your site performs on the search engines will definitely come up at some point. If you are going to spend the money to have a site developed, you want people to find it, right? So spend some time creating a list of terms that relate to your business. These terms may be services or products you offer, they may be common terms within your industry, they may be specific or they may be general. Creating that list will help you build a picture of what type of content you are going to need to create. You can then use a tool like the Keyword Planner in Google Analytics to expand that list and understand which terms will get the most searches and which terms are more competitive. Knowing which keywords to target can play a roll in your site's architecture, content strategy, lead capture, and even your digital marketing. Knowing that list is important.
Website content is often an afterthought when it comes to building a new website. This is easy to understand, especially if your site has a lot of pages that are content heavy. But, at the very least you should do a content audit. Identify what content you have, what content is important to visitors, what content needs to be revised, and what new content you will need. One of the biggest things that slows down the process of creating a new website is content creation. Now don't get caught assuming content just means text. Content can be images, video, documents, or text. All of these are going to play a big roll in your new site so take the time and make sure you have everything that you are going to need. If you don't have photography you are going to have to spend some money on stock images or hire a photographer. If video is going to be integrated you are going to need to have something filmed and possibly edited. If you have PDFs that will need to be downloaded who is going to create those? And, if you have a lot of text to write, how will that be produced? Don't overlook content because this is what will help visitors make decisions while they are on your site.
Having a site is one thing, but having a site that brings you business is what this is all about, isn't it? Your site should help the right people find you and bring them into your sales funnel. Lead capture can happen in a lot of ways. It could just be a simple contact form, it could be a sign up for a newsletter, it could be a quiz, it could be downloading a whitepaper, or it could be an interactive chat module. The questions is, what is right for your business and your target audience. Maybe it is a combination of these. Each of these options have positives and negatives to think about so take some time to evaluate your potential clients and figure out what is important to them and how they interact with your website. Maybe some A/B testing will help you understand the most effective lead capture strategies for you.
Once the site is built and you are getting traffic, now what? The work shouldn't stop there. You have established goals, but are you reaching them? Tracking and measuring your traffic and results against those goals is crucial. You should be using some type of tool like Google Analytics to understand where your traffic is coming from, what pages they are interacting with, how they are navigating through the site, and if your lead capture mechanisms are effective. All of this data should help you make adjustments in your site and refine your strategy to optimize the functionality of your site. A website should never be a "set it and forget it" tool. Your site should always be evolving and this data is what should be driving the evolution.
As you begin to weigh the idea of building a new website, there is plenty to think about. Design and budget are two of the most common deciding factors, but don't rush the process to fix the cosmetics of your website at the expense of figuring out some of these other crucial aspects. The planning phase of your site can make or break your return on investment.
If you found this blog helpful, check out these other related topics:
- 5 Website Mistake That Are Killing Your Brand
- 6 Signs You Are in Need of a Website Update
- 5 Reasons You Need to Invest in a Custom Website