When developing a website for your business, there are a few strategic questions that you need to ask yourself before launching into the design process. Far too many businesses say to themselves “We need a new website!” or “We need to leverage Social Media because everyone else is doing it!”. Then, they spend money on a project without thinking through the ROI they would like to achieve. Don’t start any major marketing initiative before thinking through the outcomes that you would like to see.
1. What is the goal of my website?
Is the goal to sell physical products on your site? Is the goal to communicate information about your business? Are you a local business and need a site to have an online presence when potential customers search for your product or services? Do you have (or want) international customers and need your website in multiple languages? Your answers to these questions will drive the type of website that you need. There is not a “One size fits all” website template for all businesses. What is the core goal or value driver you would like to achieve for your website?
2. What information do my customers need to be able to find?
General information should include your name and brand, what you do or make and how people should contact you. What else do your customers (or potential customers) need to know? What about the hours that your business is open? What about past projects that you have done for other customers? Are you a restaurant? If so, potential customers would probably like to see you menu. I never visit a new restaurant without first searching their menu online to see if I am interested in their food! It is important to think through the top 5 or 6 pieces of information that you want to communicate with your customers before you develop your website.
3. How are you going to communicate your business information?
Text? Videos? Pictures? Infographics? Customer testimonials? Once you decide what you want to communicate, think through the quickest and most effective way to communicate this information. MIT did a study that showed people can identify images in 13 milliseconds. So, pictures and infographics are a must for communicating information about your business. Icons can help prove your point as well. Come up with a communication strategy for your information. Put yourself in the place of your customer and ask yourself “how would I best receive this information”? Chances are, what works for you will work for them.
4. How do I want to interact with customers on my website? (If at all…)
Do you want your website to be a place where customers can have realtime interaction and conversations with you? If so, consider adding Drift to your website. Do you want to use your website as a funnel to help filter through your target customer vs. a third tier lead? Consider integrating Google Forms or Typeform to help customers filter themselves when you capture your data. Do you want people to be able to book a meeting with you on your site in just one or 2 clicks? Look at Calendly or other scheduling tools. The possibilities for customer interaction are endless and it’s a good idea to think about your preferred method of interaction before you launch into your site design.
5. How do I want to measure the success of the site?
This question is similar to capturing the goal of the website, but has a slight difference. The key word here is measure. How are you going to measure the success of the website? Are you looking for traffic? Conversions? New customers? Do you want your email list to grow by 3% each month? Do you want to rank higher on Google when someone searches your service in your city? Pick 2 or 3 metrics to measure over time. Set realistic goals! And then measure it! If something is working, keep going! If something is not working after a reasonable period of time, then it’s time to change your strategy. However, you’ll never know if something is working without measuring the right metrics.
6. What technical requirements do I need?
How often are you going to need to update your website? Daily? Monthly? Quarterly? Are you planning on having a blog? Do you need a customer portal where customer can log in an view their accounts? Do you need to host videos on your site? These decisions will dramatically affect the design and cost of your website. Depending on your requirements, maybe you can design the website yourself in a simple CMS such as WordPress or Squarespace. If you need more advanced features, consider hiring an agency to help you design and promote your website. Agencies can also help you update changes to your site and keep it relevant if you don’t have the time or the desire to manage your digital marketing efforts.
The main thing is to think through all of the things that you want out of your website, and decide the approach that is the best for you and your business. Happy designing!