Many business owners know that they either need a website or a website redesign, but what most don’t encounter is the thought that they’ve got to do a bit of homework before ever approaching a web developer. Here are 5 things you need to know before designing your website.
What You Want From Your Website
This can more easily be said as what are your business objectives. What goals do you want to accomplish with your website and why.
These objectives will act as the pillar for the design and will guide all decision making throughout the process. They essentially act as a guide map for the website. Without an end goal of what the site needs to accomplish, it will be very difficult for your development team to get through the project.
Some examples of business objectives as they pertain to a website are:
- Drive traffic, engage prospects, generate leads and re-engage existing customers
- Help close sales by validating and supporting sales team communications
- Improve customer satisfaction through better service
- Attract and recruit new employees and support current employees
Who It’s For
Along with your business objectives, you need to determine who is the customer or audience you’re targeting with your website. Who will be visiting, and what needs will that group have when they are navigating your site. These answers will directly inform the design of the website as it will determine the look and feel you are going for.
Some questions to ask to determine your audience are:
- What is my audience’s demographic?
- How do they engage online?
- What is my audience’s lifestyle?
- What are their needs and challenges?
- How does my product or service directly help solve their problems?
It Will Take Longer and Cost More Than You Think
The number one question we always get asked is, how much does a website cost? Followed closely by, how long will it take? I know the cost of services can sometimes be rather elusive. If you’ve never gone through the process of building and designing a website, the cost and time frame will most likely be a total mystery to you.
The thing we really want people to realize is that a website is a long-term investment in your business and future, and therefore should be treated as such. This means both the time and cost investment should align with how much value you think it will add to your business. If you just need a simple, informative page to claim your presence on the web, the investment will be less than if you needed a robust website with heavy functionality. Check out our previous blog post on how much a website should actually cost to get a better sense of the investment you should be making.
Websites Require Maintenance
All software is vulnerable, including the software that powers your site. More and more websites are getting attacked, from major corporations like Target to millions of small businesses everyday. Make sure that you keep the edge over your competition online by keeping your website and online strategies up to date.
This usually means maintaining updated plugins, security, consistent backups, managing analytics, product updates, calendars and other content, and much more. Owning a website is a responsibility, and you can’t just upload it and forget about it.
Content, Content, Content
Text. Photos. Logos. Taglines. All of these things will make up the content of your website, and you should have a pretty good idea of what you want or need these to be before starting the project. Your content will help define your brand personality and is what informs your audience, sells your message, forges relationships, and ultimately, makes you money.
Some of our most successful clients go through an extensive content strategy process to determine the content and copy that will go into the website before we ever sit down to discuss design. The content will be guided by your business objectives and audience needs, proving the synergistic effect this information has on your website.
I hope you can see the massive amount of time and effort that goes into a successful website before you even get to the development phase. In order to get the best return on your investment with a beautiful website, it takes a little thought and planning.
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